Film and TV | Frankie J. Alvarez | Jonathan Groff | Looking | Murray Bartlett | Television

'Looking' Back: Episode 1, 'Looking For Now'


After months of anticipation, HBO's Looking has finally made its debut. The series has been a hot topic since it was announced, and has been heralded by some as "the honest gay series we've been waiting for." We posted our initial thoughts on the first four episodes of Looking last week. Now that the first episode aired, we want to know what you think.

We have a few episode-specific thoughts and want to hear from you in the comments,

  • There's been a lot of talk about diversity of the cast (including in the comments on our review). I hadn't mentioned the cast's diversity in the review, because I didn't find it particularly remarkable. The representation is broader than some have speculated (this is not an egregiously all-white cast), but the series also hasn't yet really dove into any worthwhile conversation about diversity, either. The faces may be different here, but, so far, the experiences (from a diversity standpoint) feel the same.
  • It's particularly interesting to see how Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez)'s story will pan out, given how there's been so much hoopla about gay relationships either destroying the concept of monogamy, or embracing it.
  • We're particularly fond of Lauren Weedman, who plays Dom (Murray Bartlett)'s roommate. You may recognize her for her work as Horny Patty on HBO's canceled series Hung. She's got a great way of calling the guys out on their nonsense (like she does in the premiere episode with Dom's Facebook stalking), and she continues to give the guys much-needed reality checks in future episodes.
  • There were three short sexual situations in tonight's episode -- Patrick (Jonathan Groff)'s attempt at cruising, Agustín's morning sex and the three-way with the guy with the Dolly tattoo -- none of which got particularly racy. Some folks have been disappointed with the lack of skin, but it feels more like a stylistic decision, rather than an aversion to gay sex. Would more explicit scenes have added to our understanding of the characters or story?

We're only one episode in of Looking's short first season, but there's already a lot to discuss. Were you happy with the premiere? Will you keep watching? Do you see yourselves in these characters?

Let us know in the comments.

'Looking' airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

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  1. It wasn't what I had hoped, but it felt real, and at times made me uncomfortable. That's a good thing. I'll be back for next week.

    Posted by: Dave | Jan 19, 2014 11:10:53 PM

  2. I wouldn't kick the one with the 70's porn-stache out of bed.

    Posted by: crazycorgi | Jan 19, 2014 11:15:17 PM

  3. Queer as Folk 2.0

    Posted by: Poirot | Jan 19, 2014 11:15:25 PM

  4. I didn't love it but I liked it overall and ready for more next week. It did come off a bit QAF but with some differences also. The characters were a bit awkward and rough around the edges, which isn't a bad thing. Definitely not your typical cookie cutter gay show. I'll wait for more episodes before really judging.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 19, 2014 11:23:29 PM

  5. I don't believe that Jonathan Groff would have any problems finding a date ever. Completely unrealistic.

    Posted by: John | Jan 19, 2014 11:28:51 PM

  6. It's just a hipper version of "Queer As Folk". sex, sex. cruising, hook-ups, ageism, casual sex, threesomes. We seem not to have evolved much in 2014 and gay men are still trapped in the seventies….pass the lube, ecstasy and poppers and point me to the nearest bath house.

    Posted by: shanestud | Jan 19, 2014 11:30:12 PM

  7. Well acted, well filmed, written and produced, but it seemed like they were jamming all this information in as if it was only going to last 4 episodes. People spoke quicky, constantly overlapping each other, then it jumped from place to place and story to story without staying around long enough to get the feel of what was going on. The camera seemed to be constantly moving and jump cutting around as well. And just as I started to get interested in one story or character, another story line popped in. We meet one character, they discuss moving in together, then they are in a three way, which just seemed to pop out of nowhere. And I may be getting jaded, but was there a scrap of originality here? I felt like I had seen all this before and I didn't really feel much affection for any of the characters. The date scene was painfully realistic and I squirmed. But I have seen it many times before in the same way. I will continue to watch and see how it pans out, but I was a bit underwhelmed.

    Posted by: Ny Larson | Jan 19, 2014 11:32:55 PM

  8. Knowing that the series is in the hands of the same person behind Weekend makes me a bit nervous for the show. While I enjoyed how the relationship in Weekend unfolded, I was not very happy with the portrayal of drug use in the movie - where using hard drugs was portrayed almost as routine and unremarkable among the leads. If "Looking" follows a similar trajectory, I'm not sure I'll stick around.

    However, there is something compelling about these characters, and it will stick around for a few more episodes to see if the show finds its legs.

    Posted by: Talisman | Jan 19, 2014 11:35:06 PM

  9. I kinda loved it.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Jan 20, 2014 12:09:12 AM

  10. I didn't love it. It felt like the city itself was the main character. I'm hoping it gets better.

    Posted by: David | Jan 20, 2014 12:18:11 AM

  11. Didn't love. Will try again. Agree that Groff having at least superficial-relationship troubles is a stretch. That blind date of his would not have blown him off. I just get bored with tons of sex meaning "honest." But I wish it well and hope it improves for me. I loved Groff's performance, effortless and charming.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jan 20, 2014 12:34:27 AM

  12. Is "Looking" a gay icon?

    Posted by: Clueless! | Jan 20, 2014 12:37:07 AM

  13. I liked it a lot. Very authentic, which is pretty rare on TV. The date scene? We've all been on that date. As many of the reviews have said, it's very easy to relate to these characters.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 20, 2014 12:51:31 AM

  14. I don't find it hard to believe that Groff would have trouble finding a date. It happens to everyone, and he's nobody special. Don't get why people are so nuts over him. But even if I did, NO ONE is immune to relationship droughts.

    Posted by: Macguffin54 | Jan 20, 2014 1:06:53 AM

  15. I loved it, I relate to it, and the characters. I know these people, I am these people. I like the show stylistically, and I am happy that the "Weekend" like production has been toned down. I appreciate that the show is both sex positive, and the drug use does not bother me in the least, whereas the drugging, drinking, sexing and horrible relationships in QAF was constantly cringe inducing. I am in.

    Posted by: Critifur | Jan 20, 2014 1:16:23 AM

  16. oops. I did not edit that well at all.

    Posted by: Critifur | Jan 20, 2014 1:18:01 AM

  17. @NY Larson, yeah, I think it's partly a function of the fact the show is only 22 minutes long. @Talisman, I don't know what planet you live on but causal pot use isn't even just a "gay" thing, and it's not nearly as bad as all the drinking that's depicted in TV and movies.

    I wasn't wowed by tonight's episode, but I didn't hate it either. I will definitely be back next week.

    Posted by: scooternva | Jan 20, 2014 1:23:05 AM

  18. It's understated and fairly fresh, but the writing is very mediocre, almost perfunctory. There's an easygoing mellow feeling, the actors seem comfortable and bounce off each other well, but nothing to take to the roof and shout about yet. The three leads are a bit on the dullish side, but I hope the show finds its stride and the dialogue doesn't feel quite so empty. I loved "Weekend" and was expecting a stronger vision.

    Posted by: will | Jan 20, 2014 1:36:49 AM

  19. This may take some time to grow on me.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 20, 2014 1:43:24 AM

  20. Well of course I'll continue to watch and see how it develops--you have to give these things a chance. It's not like any other network has any gay-themed shows on currently--kudos to HBO.

    But without Groff I think I would have been bored pretty quickly. His character reminds me of Michael Tolliver from 'Tales of the City'. Both adorable.

    And what's with the reappearance of the 1970s facial hair? I couldn't tell some of the guys apart they looked so similar. What's next, the return of 'Honcho' magazine?

    Posted by: TRH | Jan 20, 2014 1:45:48 AM

  21. Vapid characters leading boring lives depicting cheap stereotypes in a city I don't recognize. Not Looking.

    Posted by: Hank Plante | Jan 20, 2014 1:50:33 AM

  22. It's odd watching a threesome and not being titilated or aroused. I guess a rule of thumb is when the characters are not interesting, their sex is not interesting.

    Posted by: will | Jan 20, 2014 1:54:15 AM

  23. First episodes are really tricky to pull off, and lots of very good shows started out with pilots worse than this. Good cast, understated writing, and I liked how they sometimes let us connect the psychological dots instead of doing it for us.

    It took me a minute to recognize "Scotty" with the Dolly Parton tattoo as the high school kid from Were the World Mine - how they *do* grow up!

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Jan 20, 2014 1:58:28 AM

  24. Very unimpressed. I didn't laugh, I never felt engaged, and it had the un-sexiest sex scenes ever. I kept trying to figure out what year it was set in, even though there was a cell phone in the first scene. The trailer was decent, they should have those guys do the show. I just kept thinking, when is this going to be over... Not a good sign on a half hour show. I'll give it a try another week or so.

    Posted by: Pt | Jan 20, 2014 2:06:16 AM

  25. The date scene was very realistic. Some people have a checklist and they don't waste time. Happens in NYC and Chicago too. There are a lot of choices and they move on if it doesn't click. But many straight people in their 40s and 50s recently widowed or divorce are the same.

    But the guy had him meet him at a straight bar, and he's a doctor. Many have that same personality.

    Posted by: stevetalbert | Jan 20, 2014 2:21:03 AM

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