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 ...
Seeing 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.
The 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.
I 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.
Speaking 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."
While 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?