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

'Looking' Back: Episode 5, 'Looking For the Future'


It's a shame so many viewers have seemingly abandoned Looking just when the series is finding its footing. Tonight's episode, "Looking For the Future," was easily the show's strongest yet, and an excellent showcase of Looking's potential.

Perhaps related, it's also the episode closest in style to Andrew Haigh's Weekend. "Looking For the Future" may draw similar comparisons to Before Sunrise, as it followed Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Richie (Raúl Castillo) on a daylong, romantic get-to-know-you throughout the city. The result was 30 incredibly intimate minutes that invited viewers to get to know these characters a lot deeper.

Here's hoping the final three episodes are similarly engaging. With HBO seemingly clearing house, including the cancellation of two other underperforming dramedies after one season apiece, it's not exactly looking great for Looking's season two.

See what it was about "Looking For the Future" that makes me long for more, as well as a look behind the scenes of tonight's episode, AFTER THE JUMP ...


RoadSeeing how nicely one story filled out these 30 minutes, I'm not looking forward to cramming in Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) next week. It's not that I'm not interested in their stories, but Haigh's style works best when it has time to breathe.  

RoadThe conversations tonight not only cued us in to more of what's making Patrick and Richie tick, but it also spoke volumes about the contemporary gay experience. It highlighted the questions both same-sex and straight couples ask one another (Do you want to get married? What was your first time like?), and the ones that are unique to gay men (How did you come out? Are you ashamed to be a bottom?). Their conversations throughout the day reflected the ordinariness of being gay in 2014 along with the the parts of gay life that are still unique.

RoadI thought the sex scene between Richie and Patrick was particularly bold. It wasn't scandalous or graphic, but it was realistic. We haven't seen many matter-of-fact rim jobs depicted on television, and Haigh's light-handed approach is a welcome introduction to what gay sex really looks like. Stripped of the dramatic lighting and music, it could go a long way in showing mainstream audiences that it's not as alien as they might have been led to believe.

RoadSpeaking of sex, clearly Patrick's aversion to bottoming is meant to be deeper than just a sexual preference. He's not ready to let anyone in. His day with Richie was progress, but, by the end, he still wasn't ready yet to let Richie see all his darkest secrets at the señora or to let him top. "Maybe I opened up enough today," he says. His problem bottoming reminded me of a scene in John Cameron Mitchell's amazing film Shortbus: "[New York is] one of the last places where people are still willing to bend over to let in the new. And the old. New Yorkers are, uh, permeable."  

RoadWhile we also learned more about Richie, tonight explained a lot about Patrick. The flaws that have made him borderline insufferable the last few weeks are starting to make a little more sense. Keeping himself so tightly-wound must be exhausting; no wonder he has little energy for social graces. It makes his trouble keeping his foot out of his mouth a little more excusable. "You worry about so much," Richie tells him. When we hear about his mother, or how he struggles to see a boyfriend as more than just his sex life, it really illustrates just how much growing up Patrick still has to do.

What did you think of the episode? Are you still watching? Do you want to see more?

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  1. I'm not sure what you found strong about last night's episode. I was incredibly bored with both characters. I like Jonathan Groff but an episode dedicated to his bottoming issues was not needed. I had six people watching with me, all straight and they had seen the other episodes...they were very bored. It was a half hour of preaching to the gay community through a completely mismatched couple. The bj scene was nice though.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 17, 2014 8:14:01 AM

  2. This one benefitted from not trying to develop all three friends' plotlines in the same episode. I liked the exploration of the couple's individual psychologies and the relationship dynamic. This is what Looking could do well, and what differentiates it from more plot-driven shows. But it won't be everyone's cuppa.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Feb 17, 2014 8:25:03 AM

  3. I'm not sure what Mike Is implying when he refers to the character's as "mismatched?" If he means socio-economically or ethnically, I think that is incredibly shallow and reprehensible.

    If he means sexually, that remains to be seen. Although it seemed to be implied during the Ross/Rachel conversation that they were compatible.

    Posted by: Jonnycakes | Feb 17, 2014 8:32:30 AM

  4. OK, I admit it. At this point I am merely hate-watching "Looking".

    My opinion that it is a poorly written mess with no direction & unappealling characters was only reinforced by last night's episode.

    The meandering and shallow dialogue between Patrick and the hairdresser last night made me suspect there is no script at all. Instead, the actors are just doing improv & the producers are editing a bunch of vignettes together and calling it a show.

    HBO has a total FAIL in its lineup with this one. Glad it will only be 3 more episodes & then forgotton.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Feb 17, 2014 8:36:25 AM

  5. Last night's episode was really good. I'd watched the first two episodes and then tuned the show out, assuming I wouldn't watch it again. However, last night's show pulled into the characters storyline. I was interested and found myself watching the show intently and wanting to know what happened next. I'm not sure whether "Looking" will be picked up for another season, however, if the remainder of the season is like last night's episode, the show deserves another "look".

    Posted by: Bryant | Feb 17, 2014 8:46:42 AM

  6. Here's to hoping LOOKING will survive at least to a complete season 2. I absolutely love the dynamic between Richie (he's my fav! Raul Castillo!) and Jonathan Groff. Not every TV show (nor person, career, business, etc., for that matter) comes out of the gates swinging at full speed ahead, and this doesn't have to be an end-all/be-all barometer to a show's success or failure. While it is true I have watched other gay-themed shows that started off a lot stronger than 'Looking' has, I am one a few viewers (maybe) who are really "feeling" all of the characters and absolutely adoring the relationship between Richie and Patrick. I want to see where it goes!

    Posted by: Kermit | Feb 17, 2014 8:53:32 AM

  7. Um, I can't watch this bogus show anymore. Episode five checked off more items on the gay list of stereotypical dialogue: top or bottom?--check; when do you first have sex?--check; how did you come out to your parents?--check. It is just a shallow plot trying to redeem itself with spit or swallow sex.

    Posted by: not looking | Feb 17, 2014 9:02:16 AM

  8. After watching this episode, I definitely want a second season of Looking!!! and also please, one-hour episodes.

    Posted by: David | Feb 17, 2014 9:05:35 AM

  9. I liked it. I still do. I am not sure why those that hate it so much, continue to watch it. Oh, so they can be venemous.

    Posted by: Mitch | Feb 17, 2014 9:08:59 AM

  10. I thought last night's change of pace to focusing solely on Patrick and Richie was nice, but I also felt like it might have been a bit too soon in the show's run to do a stand-alone episode and disregard the other character's plots since we're still in the "getting to them" phase. That being said, my a straight girl friend of mine had never watched the show and watched this episode with me last night and fell in love with the show, so maybe isolating the characters a bit more helps. rather than spreading the stories too thin. Though I hated LOOKING before it even aired, mostly because I felt like this was going to be yet another gay show about beautiful men who have unrealostic problems, my opinion has changed. I feel they're doing a good job at making it relatable and real and humorous. I have slowly warmed to the show and am interested in seeing where they take the characters.
    I did think "this is very Before Sunset" and loved how cinematic and feature-film-esque the episode felt. Bravo to a well-crafted half hour.

    Posted by: Stefan | Feb 17, 2014 9:09:03 AM

  11. " We haven't seen many matter-of-fact rim jobs depicted on television, and Haigh's light-handed approach is a welcome introduction to what gay sex really looks like. Stripped of the dramatic lighting and music, it could go a long way in showing mainstream audiences that it's not as alien as they might have been led to believe."

    We didn't SEE a matter-of-fact rim job on this episode either. One was alluded to through dialogue. So, it isn't going to go any way at all in SHOWING mainstream audiences anything. And, unless gay sex is totally made up of contorted facial expressions, it was not any kind of introduction to what gay sex REALLY LOOKS like.

    Maybe you need to choose your words a little more carefully. You can't SHOW or SEE what gay sex REALLY LOOKS like without ever putting a penis on the screen.

    And, what was the deal with Patrick getting out of bed and putting his underwear on only to walk to the bathroom and get into the shower? Seriously, who gets dressed for their trip from the bed to the bathroom?

    The aversion to showing any actual nudity on this program is painfully obvious.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 17, 2014 9:23:18 AM

  12. I just want all the characters to use the personal grooming & hygiene techniques their mother taught them.

    beard trimmer, soap, water, comb, styling product, haircut, deoderant, a razor, moisturizer, washing machine, dry cleaner.

    you know, stuff like that.

    Posted by: Truthiness | Feb 17, 2014 9:36:53 AM

  13. A shame? I watched the first three episodes, and they were dull, pointless and unfocused. If something hasn't engaged me after ninety minutes, I'm not about to waste any more time on it. The only shame is that the series isn't any good.

    Posted by: jomicur | Feb 17, 2014 9:37:38 AM

  14. A bunch of bitter queens in here. If you hate it stop watching, this is not Queer as Folk 2.0. If you hate it, stop watching it.

    About 12 of us got together last night and watched last week's and this week's episodes. This was a group that predominantly had not seen the show before. They thought last week's episode was poor but this week was grand. In fact we decided on a new hashtag RuPaul style, #bottomshame. Haha

    Queens get over yourselves.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 17, 2014 9:38:08 AM

  15. Not getting better, not bad enough to "hate-watch."
    Just ho-hum, unfortunately.

    Posted by: keating | Feb 17, 2014 9:53:08 AM

  16. You just noticed, Brian? Towleroad Comments has always been Bitter Queen Central.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 17, 2014 10:06:00 AM

  17. The real shame is that one would have to pay for HBO just to see this. Move it over to basic cable--something like AMC.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 17, 2014 10:07:02 AM

  18. I felt the ep was one of the better ones. In fact, I loved the deep characterization as both explore each other and discover themselves through each other while walking through the city. Oddly, I personally felt... more empathy for both characters (probably more so in Patrick) that surprised me. So yeah, I felt this episode was a good ep. It was slow but the fact both characters are discovering each other is something I can totally relate to on multiple levels. And the part where they both have the discussion about HIV is something I truly relate to, as well. Especially how Patrick reacted when he said something about sneezing.

    I also love how Andrew Haigh keeps the characters grounded and realistic. It's not so fantastical. It feels quite stable in it's realism. That is where his talent as director truly shines imo. And I also have to give props to the writers for keeping it grounded as well.

    This has to be my fav episode yet by far. Kudos to the whole cast and crew.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Feb 17, 2014 10:11:28 AM

  19. In fact, another thing about the ep I should point out is the fact the pacing was intentional imo. Because..well...when you discover those moments about yourself with someone you care for. They become moments you want to last forever and enjoy that certain amount of time with them. And I personally felt that was what being conveyed through both characters. The sense of timelessness as they wander through the beautiful landscapes and enjoy being with each other. While learning about each other. Yeah, I feel this was done to wonderful effect. You just want time to stop and remember those moments.

    Oh, and I'm sorry but I love the hirsute- otter look. Beautiful. Yeah, this ep was brilliant.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Feb 17, 2014 10:18:25 AM

  20. For what it's worth, I'm enjoying the show very much. I'm sorry others are not, but everyone has different tastes.

    Posted by: Chip | Feb 17, 2014 10:21:02 AM

  21. I believe this blog invited readers to express their honest opinions of the show. Are we supposed to blindly praise it because it has a gay theme?

    I think most viewers were excited to learn HBO was offering up this sort of programming. Sadly, many of us also require a level of quality which we think is sorely missing from this particular series.

    I hope higher standards are sought for the next gay show they greenlight.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Feb 17, 2014 10:22:03 AM

  22. Wow. This show is boring. Not just the episode; the entire show.

    Posted by: Eric Payne | Feb 17, 2014 10:22:10 AM

  23. Your commentary is part of the show.

    Posted by: snork | Feb 17, 2014 10:25:11 AM

  24. "Are we supposed to blindly praise it because it has a gay theme?"

    No, but say your piece and then STFU. Coming back to the comments EVERY week to repost the same crap just makes you seem like an a-hole. Also, if you hate the show so much, why do you continue watching?

    "Sadly, many of us also require a level of quality which we think is sorely missing from this particular series."

    At this point, I feel like if you're going to criticize the show's quality, which is subjective anyways, you should be required to mention what shows you feel are high quality. Please do share. This oughtta be good.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 17, 2014 10:31:23 AM

  25. I prefer the small segments with the different characters, because the writing isn't that good for extended plots. I think the actors are doing well with what they are given.

    I also don't get the attraction to Richie by Patrick other than they are both interested in Patrick.

    If there are more scenes like the fortuneteller, I will stop watching. California is not Quebec. Why would Richie 'forget' that Patrick probably doesn't understand much spanish?!? The scene makes no sense. They had already gone over the part where it's crazy to have someone crack eggs on you to tell the future when Richie first talked about being delusional. Maybe if the show was magical realism or something like early episodes of Ally McBeal.

    Posted by: Steve Talbert | Feb 17, 2014 10:35:30 AM

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