Looking Recap: We Like It Even If It Is Called A 'Dramedy'
We’ve cleared time in our busy Sunday night teevee watching schedule to check out the first episode of HBO’s new dramedy “Looking,” just so we could bring you this recap.
“Looking” is the tale of three gay friends looking for love in San Francisco, written and created by Michael Lannan (based on his short film Lorimer), and directed by Andrew Haigh, whose second film Weekend became a critical darling on the festival circuit two years ago for its camp-free depiction of gay relationships.
If you’re one of those liberal straights up for giving gay narratives a try, don’t expect this show to ease you into the gay sex thing. Right off the bat, you’re in a park getting a hand job.
“Stop talking,” the man with cold hands tells our protagonist Patrick (Jonathan Groff) moments before a buzzing cell phone interrupts their tryst. And any sexiness, which there wasn’t much of anyway because Patrick is a little prudish and nervous, is subverted by thoughts that the caller may be his mom checking up on him to make sure he’s not one of those gay perverts who has anonymous sex in parks.
This is how gay dudes roll apparently, real gay dudes, not the happy-go-lucky ones straights are used to seeing depicted on TV and in films. These gay dudes, in their 30s and 40s, are pretty similar to single straight people in their 30s and 40s, except for the handjobs in the park thing. Why don’t straight people have parks where they hook up? That kind of thing could put Match.com out of business.
Other than Patrick, a straight-laced video game developer, we’re also introduced to Augustin (Frankie J. Alvarez), Patrick’s best friend/roommate, and Dom (Murray Bartlett), the older, wiser waiter friend who adds perspective from his decade longer of life on this planet. They smoke the wacky tobacky, gossip about their exes, and are swayed into being plus ones at awkward events because of the possibility of open bars. See, they are exactly like middle-aged single straights.
So, it’s not all hot pants and parades apparently, which is sort of a letdown. Now that gay men have the option of saying “I do,” things are getting a little more real, as reflected in the relationships on “Looking.”
“Instagram filters are ruining everything,” Patrick tells Augustin while trolling the web for dick the next morning. Augustin helps him weed out suitors with not much potential only to follow with some big news. He and his boyfriend Frank are moving in together, which means Patrick also needs to use the Web for practicality reasons perhaps, like finding a new roomy.
Next we see Dom telling his roommate, longtime gal pal Doris (Lauren Weedman), that he’s considering calling Ethan, his ex who once threatened to kill him, who is now a successful real estate agent. But it’s about much more than jumping on that gravy train.
Later, Dom hits on a much younger colleague, offering to put his positive energy into his universe but gets denied, which makes his mid-life crisis crap that much more painful.
Dom is having a bit of a freakout, evaluating his own successes and failures in the face of douchey financial guys he has to wait on at the fancy restaurant where he works. Doris talks him down, but not for long.
Augustin, an artist’s assistant by day, is at work constructing huge sculpture projects instead of exorcising or exercising his own creative muses. He’s introduced to a new handyman who he is forced to work late with, who turns out to be a sexy young thing, thwarting his plans with Frank that night.
To make up for it, Frank shows up with food and booze around dinnertime. They joke, they flirt, and after a quick view of the handyman’s new Dolly Parton tattoo, things escalate quickly ending in a not very graphic three-way romp.
What about nervous Patrick? Patrick is plenty successful at his techy job as a level designer, just not in matters of love.. He is nowhere close to an impromptu threesome. He does land a date with the cute oncologist from the morning’s OK Cupid search. Sadly, the meet up is horrible from the first few moments, as awkward as a cold-handed physical.
Two guzzled glasses of wine into the thing, Patrick gets a little too comfortable with his uptight doctor friend and lets too much info slip, like the hand job in the park and that his longest relationship has been six months. And it’s over, just like that and they split the check. Ouch.
However, Patrick rebounds quite nicely. The moment his ass meets seat on the train post-date he is sized up by a Latin lover named Richie (Raúl Castillo) one row over. Patrick flirts bashfully, going so far as to go along with Richie’s assumption that Patrick is actually doctor who just ditched Patrick, an assumption he makes after snatching the doc’s card out of Patrick’s hands.
Patrick turns down Richie’s advances, shakes his hand and heads out to a bachelor party where he and Dom awkwardly watch the grooms get lap dances by something furry in a thong.
Patrick shares his woes with Dom, to which the latter shows little sympathy. Instead, he encourages Patrick to loosen up and maybe look outside of his comfort zone of uptight, white Stanford grads. “Why do you think I go on so many bad dates?” Patrick asks Dom.
“Maybe you should quit giving a shit what your mom thinks, or what anyone thinks,” he says. And with that, Patrick heads to the other side of the tracks to find the dude from the train.
Dom hits the sofa alone, calls the crazy aspiring real estate tycoon and leaves a message, just like we thought he would. And Augustin and Frankie talk about defining their relationship a little more now that they’re shacked up, and what that means for the possibility of future fuck-a-thons with Dollywood fanatics.
To find out what’s next for the guys, watch Season One, Episode Two “Looking for Uncut” next Sunday, January 26, at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.