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

'Looking' Back: Episode 2, 'Looking For Uncut'

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Last week's premiere episode of HBO's Looking left viewers with a few mixed feelings. Overall, many (including myself) were impressed with the realistic portrayal of a certain segment of the gay population, but felt that realism didn't necessarily translate to compelling television. 

For those who decided to give the series another shot: Now that we've had a chance to see the second episode, have some of the put-offs from the pilot been resolved? We've got some observations about episode two, "Looking For Uncut," and want to hear your perspective, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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  • There's been some discussion about the series' depiction of sex. Tonight's episode featured the most intense sex scenes we'll see in the show's first four episodes. While Dom's Grindr hook-up showed the most skin, it was only presented in a brief, matter-of-fact scene. No complaints here on that glimpse of Murray Bartlett's side-butt, but those hoping for a little more titillation were likely still disappointed. It makes sense to take this kind of approach, given Dom's own emotional disconnection from the hook-up, but do we, as viewers, have to be so bored by the sex, too?

 

  • Patrick (Jonathan Groff) continues to walk a very fine line between charming cluelessness and insufferable naivete. (You're going to tell me that a web-savvy, late-20s gay man today has never once come across an uncut guy? Not even on the Internet? Come on.) His night with Richie (Raúl Castillo) was sufficiently awkward for a proper first date, inducing the appropriate cringes as he continued to misread signals and eventually bungle things in the bedroom. After all the comparison's to Girls and Sex and the City, the strongest connections to those series may be their love-them-or-loath-them protagonists.

 

  • One of the series' strengths is its great soundtrack. Using Cazwell's "Rice and Beans" was almost too on the nose, but it was hard not to love Patrick's drunken revelry on the dancefloor while Erasure's "A Little Respect" played.

 

  • Clearly Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) is going to be the vessel through which the ideas of monogamy and open relationships are explored. His conversation with Patrick about sex vs. intimacy felt like a good introduction to the theory, but I'm looking forward to seeing his story dive deeper into some of the thornier relationship elements that may present themselves while putting this into practice.

 

  • There was a bit more humor in tonight's episode. The best stuff comes courtesy Doris (Lauren Weedman), but even Patrick's claim he was eating a kale salad while late-night snacking on mac and cheese made me chuckle. Nothing here is too laugh-out-loud hysterical, and I still just can't help but want this dramedy to be either more dramatic or a little funnier.

Two episodes in, has your opinion on Looking changed? 

Let us know in the comments.

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

(Photo credit: HBO/John P. Johnson)

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Comments

  1. Nope, still not impressed.

    It feels like this show should be 1 hour. The current format just doesn't seem to be enough to flesh out the characters...just when things seem to get interesting, it ends.

    And when did awkwardness become synonymous with humor? A awkward moment is one thing, but an entire episode of awkward just gets old.

    I'm really trying to give the series the benefit of the doubt, but I don't know if I will be in for the long haul.

    Posted by: Talisman | Jan 26, 2014 11:24:00 PM


  2. I want to see more. Does that say it all?
    Agree that we are just being given morsels in the 1/2 hour format, I wish it was a bit longer. However, I respond to the awkwardness, and don't see it as an attempt at straightforward humor. but as a mark of its success at relating to the audience. The characters are all so flawed, but each has their unique charms. Not too much is canned here: some of the set-ups are, but then the script will yield a surprising self-awareness.

    Posted by: Dave | Jan 26, 2014 11:34:15 PM


  3. I think I have finally become post gay. It just isn't enough for me to be happy with a gay program anymore just cause it has gay leads. It has to be good. I want to like Looking. I really do. It's just not interesting. Realistic yes. Well acted yes. Do I care about these people? Not so much.

    Posted by: Ny Larson | Jan 26, 2014 11:37:32 PM


  4. I am giving it one more episode, but it pains me to say that I just don't like it. Its more work to get through than I'd like...more like the dying seasons of your favorite show that has gone downhill,but you continue to watch out of habit and loyalty. Young women found the first season of GIRLS to be representative and resonant and slightly older women found SaTC to be aspirational. I, as a gay man, feel neither of those things watching LOOKING. It almost feels like a 90s production...a less artful TALES OF THE CITY. The issues and humor are gay clichés, not topical, resonant, biting, or representative. It captures a certain time and place for a segment of gay men very well, but does only that, making it a modern period piece, and not one that is brilliant enough to be aspirational for those who aren't that segment. I wanted so much for this show to speak for the latest generations of gay men in a new and fresh way that put the show on par with HBO's best and I am only on episode 2 and watching out of duty. i hate that.

    Posted by: JanusMetri | Jan 26, 2014 11:49:33 PM


  5. I am having a hard time liking the main character. He seems so mind-numbingly stupid I have a hard time believing he hasn't tried licking a power socket yet. He meets a guy on okcupid, where you can clearly see what a person's intent is (long term dating/casual sex/just friends etc), then doesn't know a guy isn't just after sex, AND tells a story about how a stranger wanked him off in some bushes that morning? Just no.

    Posted by: RyanC | Jan 26, 2014 11:50:54 PM


  6. I really love Groff's character because he makes all the dumb decisions I make on a date. Foot-in-mouth disease, I believe it's called.

    Posted by: Mikey | Jan 26, 2014 11:52:40 PM


  7. My partner and I are absolutely loving Looking. We loved last week's pilot episode and we loved the episode tonight as well. I do agree, however, that the show's current 30-minute format is too short to really develop the story and characters to where they need to be. My partner turned to me tonight when the episode ended and said, "I love it! But it's just way too short." HBO made a mistake turning it into a 30-minute per episode series. But thus far, we still absolutely love it. The real question of whether or not the series can garner a viewership is yet to be answered. The ratings for the show last week were abysmal. If they don't improve, it won't matter if the show would benefit from being lengthened or not. HBO has no reservations in axing shows that underperform on their networks. I am hoping more viewers turn in and Looking can succeed as a series just like Queer As Folk did for Showtime.

    Posted by: Dr. Christopher Blackwell | Jan 26, 2014 11:53:41 PM


  8. yeah i think it should be an hour. but the main character seems he is trying too hard and kind of an airhead..i dunno, ill give it another shot tho

    Posted by: mymy | Jan 26, 2014 11:53:58 PM


  9. Better script, but that fuzzy gold-brown cinematography has got to GO.

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 27, 2014 12:17:38 AM


  10. The big improvement in episode 2: Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

    I like me some Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

    Otherwise, not so much.

    Posted by: Vint | Jan 27, 2014 12:19:03 AM


  11. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, thought this second episode sorta meh but still liked it. I liked Patrick's awkward dating fail.

    Having watched True Detective and Girls before Looking I have to say I already care about more characters in Looking than in the other two combined.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Jan 27, 2014 12:23:41 AM


  12. I agree with most of the comments so far. These just aren't characters I can connect with and care about. There really isn't anything all that unique about them. They are actually pretty milquetoast. I feel like I'm watching an independent film where everyone is examining their bellybuttons and commenting on it. I guess I've been spoiled by the interesting characters and sense of family from "Queer as Folk."

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 27, 2014 12:30:56 AM


  13. The pacing of this show BLOWS. Also, they way they beat you over the head when making a point or preach on a topic. I lost a bet because I thought they'd wait till episode 3 to give the "open-relationships are the best" justification speech, but they did it tonight. This show won't make it past season one. The gay audience already knows this junk and the straight audience needs to give it time to understand the point, they won't stick around.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 27, 2014 12:31:55 AM


  14. HBO please cancel this train wreck already and get the guys that made THE OUTS to do a show now.

    Posted by: hook | Jan 27, 2014 12:37:50 AM


  15. This show is a remarkable demonstration of equality; as it slowly but perfectly illustrates that poor script writing, shallow pretense, and lazy plot devices will kill any show, be it straight or gay themed.

    Posted by: Phluidik | Jan 27, 2014 12:38:05 AM


  16. haven't seen the episode - sad to hear people don't like it... I'm sure people put their heart and soul into making this...I liked the first episode

    Posted by: steve | Jan 27, 2014 1:02:36 AM


  17. I'm sad that it's not getting the audience it deserves. I like the show. It's growing on me.

    It's funny...before it aired, as a gay man of color I was big on hating it because of its apparently lack of diversity. But now that I've seen that they tackle the HUGE issues of race and class in the gay community, head on, it is really something that needs to be seen and discussed.

    Too bad it's probably getting cancelled.

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 27, 2014 1:36:01 AM


  18. I think many people can relate to the character's actions either through themselves or through their friends.It is very topical to me in that i have friends that get on grindr to hook up or are in relationships with certain rules and freedoms and it never gets boring once that happens. Being in a latin/white long term relationship myself, i could relate at times at the dichotomy of being sexually objectified for being latino or actually looked at as potential relationship material no matter what race.

    So the way the show is going is that you are either going to relate to the characters because they are similar to you or your friends OR you are not, and if you cant relate, your life must be really boring, jk.

    Having everyone say that the show is too short at 30 minutes,actually just indicates that people want more of it. I certainly do, and cant wait for next weeks episode.

    Being filmed in San Franciso is also a plus for me, since ive visited many times and would consider moving there, along with thousands of other techis whic i am part of....

    Posted by: rayjr75 | Jan 27, 2014 1:43:02 AM


  19. I liked this episode better than last, but it' still kinda weak. Its not the actors fault or the storyline, Im willing to give it some time.I think Haigh has a vision of what he wants to do, but like weekend, he likes the slow.

    Posted by: Lazycrockett | Jan 27, 2014 2:01:25 AM


  20. I can't tell the characters apart. Main character aside, the others look too much alike. :(

    Posted by: Charles | Jan 27, 2014 2:06:19 AM


  21. Not gunna lie, I couldn't wait for tonight's episode. I have fully warmed up to this series. The show should be an hour though. The main guy who went on the date is easy to both love and hate.

    Posted by: anony6 | Jan 27, 2014 2:16:27 AM


  22. I like the slow-burn approach. I don't need to see another silly, albeit entertainingly over-the-top, soap like QaF. And, ya, the 30 minute format is doing the writer's and actor's a real disservice here because the brief exchanges we're allotted have the unfortunate side effect of accentuating the character's negative traits.

    Unless that's the point.

    Posted by: Gil | Jan 27, 2014 2:34:50 AM


  23. I think the show is amazing! Andrew Haigh's writing is so on point with the emotional shape of each of his character's point in their lives; and i'm looking forward to the slow reveal of their story arc's.

    It reminds me of Mad Men, that cinematic quality as though it's a much longer piece that is sliced down to bites for TV.

    As for the Gay communities response could you imagine if there was only one programme for the straight population! How everyone would need to see themselves in it to like it? Way too much pressure.

    We need Looking. We need like 5 - 10 shows. Then there'll be enough variety for all our tastes and we'll all be happy!

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 27, 2014 2:47:32 AM


  24. I was desperately trying to like this series, but I just can't find anything to latch onto. The characters are unappealling. There doesn't seem to be any plot. The dialogue is lame.

    It had a weak premier, but I was willing to wait & see if they could somehow build itself up. Unfortunately, nothing much happened this week either.

    It may be unfair to note that season1 episode1 of "Breaking Bad" grabbed you by the balls on all counts from the very beginning, but it demonstrates it can be done. After all, this is HBO & the show is supposed to be about gay sex in San Francisco. How can you make that boring?

    In my opinion, they did.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Jan 27, 2014 3:12:52 AM


  25. @Talisman: Awkward became synonymous with humor the first time a studio exec said, "Hey, let's make a movie starring Ben Stiller."

    The American rip-off of "The Office" didn't exactly help, in that regard, either. But I forgive them for that, on account of John Krasinski is adorable.

    Posted by: FFS | Jan 27, 2014 3:33:03 AM


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