‘Looking’ Back: Episode 3, ‘Looking At Your Browser History’


  • Cruising and open relationships are the kind of things one would expect to be discussed on a gay-themed television program in our post-Grindr age. However, I was personally surprised by the observation about gay guys playing as female video game characters. It's such an astute observation, something so subtle, that it proves the value this show could have. 
  • Tonight we saw the introduction of Patrick (Jonathan Groff)'s new boss, Kevin (Russell Tovey). You may recognize Tovey from BBC's Being Human. Not that every gay character needs to sleep with one another, but it seems unlikely they'd give Patrick a handsome, gay boss if it wasn't going to throw a romantic curveball at him. Call it Chekhov's gay.
  • And speaking of Kevin, what a nightmare for him to read over Patrick's browser history. (Also, again, if he spends that much time on Manhunt, how is it he never saw an uncut guy?) Sure, lots of places track your web usage, but wouldn't you be mortified if your boss ever looked at yours?
  • We were also introduced to Scott Bakula's character, Lynn, tonight. While we didn't get to spend too much time with him in the steam room, he had that great line about the Gay Men's Chorus: "Everyone likes them in principle, but no one actually wants to hear them sing." (Not to mention, Bakula looked pretty good in that towel.)
  • While we're on the topic of the steam room, it felt like another example of the show purposefully shying away from the more graphic sex scenes. Even with Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Lynn soaking up the steam room, that was an awfully sexless bathhouse. When action was about to happen between Dom and his admirer, we cut away.
  • It's still early to see the effects of Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) meeting that prostitute. We get a bit more development between them next week, and it's the kind of thing that will propel Agustín's story forward for the second half of the season (even if it propel's his personal growth backward).
  • Shows shouldn't make you watch half the season to get invested, but next week's episode (finally) sees some storyline development across all three main characters. So, if you're still on the fence, you might want to give it one more try.  

What did you think of the episode?

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


  1. JeffNYC says

    You describe the show as “purposefully shying away from the more graphic sex scenes” but there was graphic sex between Dom and the character played by Andrew Keenan Bolger.

    Or did I just imagine that?

  2. Dw says

    I loved the first two episodes. I’d watch several more episodes based on those two. That said, the third episode was really poorly written. Hopefully it’s not a sign of a change in direction.

  3. says

    So dreary, disengaged, and disengaging. There’s no depth to any of the characters, no sense that deeper currents and motives run in them. And the show owe San Francisco an apology, having Instragramed all the color out of the most colorful city in America.

  4. Talisman says

    This show just isn’t working. The characters are one-dimensional, and their chemistry is non-existent. I just don’t get the feeling that Patrick and Agustin have been friends for as long as they claim. What’s more, the way the show is written, there is rarely any interaction between the three leads. They might as well not even be in the same show. I’ll give it another episode, and that’s more than I’ve given other shows that haven’t hooked me.

    BTW, as a MMO gamer, I can tell you that there is nothing subtle or astute about the observation that gay men play as female characters. In fact, the situation is not limited to gay men: it is quite common for men – both gay and straight – to play as female characters. I often hear straight men claim that, if they are going to spend so much time watching the character from behind (the common camera perspective), they want to watch a woman.

  5. JonnyNYNY2FLFL says

    I tried to like it, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

    The writing is so loose and sloppy I wonder if the dialogue is just ad-libbed. So far, there’s little evidence of a plot or even an overall direction. None of the characters is very appealing to me (not a fan of facial hair), but beyond sex appeal, they don’t seem to offer any reason to care about them either.

    Jonathan Groff, however, is dreamy. I’ve followed him in other roles (notably “Spring Awakening”) so I know he can act. Unfortunately, in “Looking” they cast him as awkwardly naïve for a 30-ish SF professional. They also have him constantly talking with his mouth full of food, which is gross.

    I had similar problems with “Girls”, which many people compare to “Looking”. However, when I watched them back-to-back this weekend, I found “Girls” to have more redeeming qualities. It actually made me lol a couple of times this week. So far, I haven’t detected any wit or humor in “Looking”

    Episode 3 started with an “artwork” that was profound in the eyes of the artist, but was really just a crappy pile of furniture nailed together. I think that might be symbolic of the series.

    For those who wrote favorable impressions of the show, good for you. I’m hoping for some good entertainment with homosexual tendencies too.

    Perhaps the interaction between Jonathan & his new boss will finally take us somewhere in the next 5 episodes. If not, I’d be happy to see the series go away. I hope HBO gives me something I can get into while I anxiously await the return of “Game of Thrones”.

  6. says

    When I watch TV or movies or YouTube series or whatever, I watch them because they’re more interesting or funny or sexy or intellectually stimulating than my own life. It’s a very, very, VERY low bar for success, but somehow, LOOKING fails miserably.

  7. Truthiness says

    doesn’t anyone own a beard trimmer, have the grooming skills their mother taught them or simply just wash?

    this show is a knock off of girls and just makes me question their hygiene.

  8. says

    We are three episodes into an eight week season for “Looking” and we still know nothing. Hell, I am beginning to feel like Jon Snow.

    As another poster mentioned, the main characters have no actual chemistry together. When they are together, you never get the feeling that have been long time friends. At best, you get the feeling that they are passing acquaintances.

    To be honest, I think some very overt sex could make this show better. Why should gay sex be relegated to the off screen shadows while straight sex is thrown in our faces?

    And yes, this show is severely hamstrung by the fact that is only 24 minutes in actual running time.

    With all of that being said, build a show around Russel Tovey (I wish he were my husband) and I think we might be on to something.

  9. BlahBlahBlah says

    I dont hate it but it just seems sort of colorless and bland. I’m disappointed but I’m still watching and I will probably watch it all the way through the season.

  10. Profe Sancho Panza says

    I thought Scott Bakula’s scene with Dom was the best thing this week, and Russell Tovey’s character is promising, too.

  11. jonathan says

    Just not a good TV show. I know you all want it to be good so badly, but it really is a piece of garbage. There isn’t one good thing about it.

  12. DC Insider says

    In the end, gay or straight, a show needs to be interesting, well written, and have characters that you are remotely invested in. Fail, fail, and fail.

    I’ll watch one or two more episodes to see where it goes, but I’m not betting that I’ll be “looking” much more.

  13. art says

    This was suppose to be somewhat like the movie Weekend for tv… And is pretty good…. But it lacks wit and specially the intimacy of the movie… All the sex has been very impersonal. On purpose? Love The Scott Bakula scene, it felt very real.

  14. AdamK says

    The first episode was boring. The second episode, however, was boring. I didn’t watch the third episode.

  15. Joseph says

    “Looking” is incredibly, incredibly disappointing. And dispiriting: I was so hoping we’d finally get a good TV series about gay men, especially considering the talent involved — but this has been a dreary, boring, thoroughly stultifying program. How is it possible so much promise could go so terribly wrong?

  16. C.J. says

    So. Much. Facial. Hair. I love me a nice man with some GROOMED facial hair, but it’s like every other character is some version of a dude in Williamsburg. :)

  17. Dave says

    Many commenters here are trying to “compare” it to previous series, be it Sex and the City, Q as F, or Girls, and seem to agree that it’s not enough like any of them. I like that it is not like them (esp Q as F), it is fresh, engaging, and hard to predict. Reminds of Seinfeld’s early seasons, in that nobody knew what to think about it, it being so different from other “comedies”. We’ll this dramedy needs some room to breathe, I think it is a gem. BTW, this week’s episode was the best yet, with the humor and sex improved, and the story arcs becoming clearer.

  18. Dave says

    Many commenters here are trying to “compare” it to previous series, be it Sex and the City, Q as F, or Girls, and seem to agree that it’s not enough like any of them. I like that it is not like them (esp Q as F), it is fresh, engaging, and hard to predict. Reminds of Seinfeld’s early seasons, in that nobody knew what to think about it, it being so different from other “comedies”. We’ll this dramedy needs some room to breathe, I think it is a gem. BTW, this week’s episode was the best yet, with the humor and sex improved, and the story arcs becoming clearer.

  19. Robert says

    I love it. I feel compelled to write this mainly because I am stunned by all the negative reviews. I find it well written, clever and very, very funny.

  20. Simon says

    The people who say this show is uninteresting must be from some other Earth that is different from the Earth where I live. I have never seen a show about gay men in the workplace that was NOT about discrimination or about a gay man who had to lie in order to keep his job. To see a show in which a gay man is trying to figure out whether a colleague is gay because he might ask him out, as though that is a perfectly normal thing to do, is astonishing to me. Can those who say this show is boring please list all the other shows they’ve seen in which something like that takes place? I can think of none.

    In the same vein, those who say this show is no more interesting than their dull, everyday routine must live awfully exciting lives. The characters on this show seem to have no problem either finding someone attractive to hook up with or finding someone attractive to date. Most gay men I know have problems finding either, let alone both. Is it really that easy in S.F.?

  21. David says

    Meh. These story lines feel incredibly dated and generic. The characters one-dimensional — especially Jonathan Groff’s goofiness, which feels phony and designed to make him SYMPATHETIC. Please – he lives in SF and has never SEEN an uncut cock. Also, any gamer worth his salt — or anyone who works in an office these days — would know about keeping browser history private. C’mon…

  22. Paul Cabral says

    I love the show! I am hooked! And, it’s always fun to see where in SF they filmed being that I live in SF.

  23. says

    Okay… Contrary to the comments before, I think it’s a brilliant show. Great direction, beautiful photography, perfect music, pretty good acting and chemistry, understated storylines. It reminds me of “Enlightened” and despite its lack of viewers I hope it will get 2 seasons as well…

  24. JoelD says

    Well, flame retardant at hand, I’ll note that my partner and I did not get through Episode 2. The show is not compelling and seems to see gay men as perpetual 16 year olds with nothing but cock on their minds. I wish there was some compelling character development and plot lines to reflect other aspects of life so that the sex–which I like seeing as much as the next guy–emerged from characters. As it is, the show dances coyly around sex scenes while the whole premise seems to titillate. For that, there’s google—much more directly satisfying.

  25. Andy says

    Taste in comedy is subjective, I realize, but I wish someone would tell me what in episodes 1 or 2 what he found funny. I haven’t seen 3 because it’s such a boring slog to sit through, for all the reasons people have mentioned above.

    If I hear buzz of a positive change of pace for the show, I might take another look; as of now, I am done.

  26. Simon says

    Andy, to grant your wish, what I found funny in the first two episodes was the scenes in which Patrick kept putting his foot in his mouth, giving the guy he’s with the exact opposite of the impression he clearly wants to make.

    I also like the scene in Episode 1 between Dom and his roommate, a woman who seems to steal every scene she’s in.

    I realize this isn’t the type of screwball humor one sees in ‘Girls,’ in which Ray has to chase a girl halfway across Brooklyn because she accidentally smoked crack at a party, or Hannah asks Adam to stop his bike and when he complies she falls on her face in the street. But that is not the only type of humor I enjoy.

  27. Mark says

    To repeat my perhaps dumb question from last week (no one answered): Where/how can I watch episodes 2 and 3? I don’t have HBO. Episode 1 was posted online. Thanks.

  28. MichaelJ says

    I too am surprised about all the negative comments, as much as I understand some of it. There could be better chemistry between the characters, and we need some backstory on how Dom became friends with Patrick and Agustin, who were buddies in college. And some of the writing is ridiculous. (E.g., never dealt with an uncut penis up close?).
    But the main characters aren’t one dimensional. Their desires to break out of the ruts they find themselves in — ruts in both their personal and working lives — seem real to me. They certainly do not have “nothing but cock on their minds.”
    And there are some very funny lines and moments, such as the line about the Gay Men’s Chorus or Patrick telling Agustin he’s eating a kale salad while pigging out on mac & cheese.
    I’m sticking with the show, for now.

  29. Anony6 says

    Wow, tough crowd in the house. I like the show and am looking forward to the next episode.

    What’s appealing to me about the show is the suspense that lay behind so many of the seemingly mundane(not boring) scenes. You can just tell the characters mind’s are racing in some moments. Also there’s something magnetic about being seeing such social awkwardness, while having the privilege of not being the person committing the missteps…similar to reality tv appeal. It is in this appeal where a lot of the humor and gravity of the show comes through, at least for me.

    See you all next episode 😉

  30. Zlick says

    Put me in the camp of those who think this would be better as a one-hour drama. In both of the last two episodes I felt I was getting a little hooked into it, when the episode came to a sudden end. It’s on the verge of hooking me just a little bit, and then blows it.

    Comedies are more suited to the half-hour format. This is not a comedy. It’s a meandering drama with very little drama, but I feel I could get into it just a bit if the episodes didn’t stop the moment they were getting barely interesting.

    I’m glad some people are honestly enjoying it. But the general reaction seems to be Yawn and Meh. I’m going to watch all 8 episodes, and I’m pretty sure that will be all that ever airs. Oh well.

  31. Matt says

    I really enjoy this show. I love all of the main characters and I think each episode has been better than the last. It seems like everyone is SO quick to judge this show. People started in before it even aired. Even this article is saying shows should be established by episode 3. That’s ridiculous. So many great shows were not well received for the initial episodes or even initial seasons, but networks gave them a chance to grow and find their voice/audience. I think Looking has all the right ingredients in place and I think (and hope) that the plot is going to pick up in the coming episodes. And also Jonathon Groff is adorable and underrated and I need more of him.

  32. Steve Talbert says

    I’m surprised by the negative comments also, but then to me I was thinking it seems so late 1980s or early 1990s but without HIV or any closeted angst.. The bath scene reminded me of Tales from the City.

    I like it because it’s short and doesn’t take much effort to keep up, and I’ve been through all of those things at one time or the other. It’s like paying attention to some people you see out a lot but don’t know, or like noticing the relationships of the wait staff over time at a restaurant or bar you frequent.

    The show I REALLY like right now on HBO is True Detective. Like Twin Peaks directed by Q Tarantino.

  33. Steve Talbert says

    Oh, and I think Enlightened was so much better, but I can see the similarities in pacing.

  34. ScottCA says

    I’ve now seen the third episode, which will be the last I watch. A snoozer of a series. I still cannot picture the three main characters as being anything other than the most casual of acquaintances – certainly not bff’s.

    Every time someone says “its real” I come to the conclusion that I must live in a different world. Groff’s character is a blabbering idiot, and I don’t recall the last time a sex worker gave me is card in a restaurant. It’s neither funny nor amusing in the slightest. And it seems that the vast majority of my friends agree.

  35. Mike W says

    I always thought it was straight guys that chose to play female roles in games: they’re the ones that fantasize about having boobies to play with.

  36. raul415 says

    I watched the first two episodes with four other gay men (and a str8 man) and we were all impressed by the tone and writing.

    I liked it so much more than I thought I would.

    My only hope is that we go deeper into the lives of these guys.

    We have almost reached the point where one size doesn’t have to fit all. Not yet but almost.

    Love the show and I can’t wait to see Mr Tovey!

  37. rebarb says

    This show lost me after episode three. The characters are not terribly likable or interesting. Frankly, I found myself bored halfway into the second episode. There is really nothing to make me tune in ever again. Snooze!

  38. Bill says

    A fun show and it’s nice to see more LGBT programming on the air. No show can ever please everyone entirely. As someone has already said, many successful shows start off rather poorly only to move on to better things if given the chance. I’m with HBO and willing to do just that. OH, if only I had a boyfriend as sexy as Jonathan!!!!

  39. tyto says

    Great show. Not sure why there’s such attitude about it though, as if dissing it gives credibility points. Music selections and supervision are choice. Guardian UK has fantastic review and analysis of the show, much more perceptive than the Towleroad crowd’s “it’s boring” dismissal.

  40. SpaceCadet says

    Hmm. I’ve only seen the first episode (free preview) and I don’t plan on adding HBO until GOT comes back but if even gays aren’t liking this show, and more importantly, giving up on watching it, then it’s not going to make it to another season. And that’s kind of sad. It definitely has an attractive cast. I guess it just needs more political scheming, and dragons.

  41. Matt says

    I love the show. That being said, as a married man in my 40’s (ok – just 40), I find it sad, maybe even pathetic, that a long term monogamous relationship isn’t interesting enough for television. Sure, when we’re queening out on Modern Family for laughs, it’s fine, but I’d love to see this type of relationship on Looking – we’re real, romantic, sweet, loving, and OUR sex scenes would blow away the hookups on Looking. Just sayin’.

  42. Polarwanderer says

    Russell Tovey is the only good thing in this train wreck. It is poorly written and just boring. How someone can make a show about three gay men in SFO and Oakland so dull is beyond me. Oakland is hipster central now. Watching me set up my Paypal account in line at Smitten ice cream in Hayes Valley yesterday is more interesting than this show. Watched the last episode with friends and one fell asleep, the other drank heavy, and the third left. Pull the plug on Looking and give Rusell his own show!

  43. bravo says

    It is possible that men had beards before Brooklyn came into vogue a few years ago? I am sick of the beard-Brooklyn tie in. If you had a beard when it was not trendy, then you are tops on my list.

  44. Warner says

    Previous post by JONNYNYNY2FLFL said it best:

    “Episode 3 started with an “artwork” that was profound in the eyes of the artist, but was really just a crappy pile of furniture nailed together. I think that might be symbolic of the series.”

  45. D.B. says

    Just finished watching episode 3 — it’s sad to say, but I really think the people behind the show were perhaps overly concerned with creating a realistic presentation of gay life — but they forgot that this was also supposed to be entertaining. This show is really dull.

    That said, I’ll probably continue watching, but my partner was out after episode 2.

  46. Paul says

    I love this show as well. I think this week was the best episode yet. it’s a long arc story and the characters are super real, I know people just like these guys. Their individual stories had breathing space from each other in this episode for the first time and I liked that you could see the individual arcs of the characters plots emerge.

    That said I can see why people might not like it. It isn’t very TV or mainstream.

    PS I so don’t want to see explicit gay see on a TV show… I’ve got porn for that.

  47. NealB says

    Add me to those that remain interested in it. I just re-upped my HBO for another month to follow it along. I like that it shows its characters living what look to me like ordinary lives. And throwing in a bathhouse sex scene would have been gratuitous, I think. The show lacks a powerful character, maybe Tovey’s will assume some of that.

  48. michael says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I really hope it gets picked up for a second (longer) season. The last show I enjoyed this much from HBO was Enlightened and that sadly didn’t make it beyond season two. So nice to have a series to watch without the typical comedic slapstick hijinx where characters are more like cartoons than people. The shows I tend to connect the most with are the ones where characters develop over time (Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Breaking Bad).

  49. Melanio says

    In my opinion, it’s a slice of life. Reminds me of early Sex and the City. I guess in today’s world even SATC would have tanked quickly since the first several episodes was a bit too NY and didn’t appeal to a mass audience. Looking needs some vibrancy but I like that it’s a different point of view, although I think this is Andrew Haight with the more unpretty Gay male (bears and otters anyone?) but nothing is going to be perfect. I liked Weekend because it was just that 2 days that could or could not lead to something. I still will give it a chance. But then again I like Downton Abbey.

  50. jarago says

    The three new characters have made the series much more interesting- specially Russell Tobey and the still sexy Scott Bakula.