‘Looking’ Back: Episode 6, ‘Looking In the Mirror’

  • I'm not sure if the most recent plot developments should be called "predictable" or "natural." Of course Dom doesn't know how to relate to Lynn (Scott Bakula) without sex. Of course Agustín can't resist the temptation of C.J. (T.J. Linnard). Of course Patrick isn't nearly as comfortable being Richie's boyfriend as he'd like to be. On the one hand, any viewer could've smelled any of these happening from miles away. But, on the other hand, good writing doesn't mean always pulling the rug out from under your viewers. (Are you listening, Ryan Murphy?)
  • Thematically, I like how these three stories all confronted this idea of what happens when you get what you think you want. While Agustín's was the most obvious example, even Dom had initially set out to have a platonic business deal with Lynn. Patrick and Richie's argument after Dom's party was one of the best scenes so far, but, as he stood toying with his scapular, I couldn't help but wonder if Patrick is regretting that invite to his sister's wedding.
  • Doris (Lauren Weedman) is still the best. "You are so gay-fired" is my new favorite Doris-ism.
  • Is it just me, or has Agustín become the most unlikable character? His tantrum over his art project was insufferable. His outburst targeted at Richie was completely out of line. And the way he treats his adorable boyfriend (O.T. Fagbenle) makes no sense. While Patrick is attempting to grow, Agustín is running out time to hit the road to redemption.

What did you think of the episode?

Comments

  1. mymy says

    I think this show is getting better. Tho, living in San Francisco I have encountered the film crew on various location shoots and find them pushy and rude. I also like to play “guess how much their apartments cost”.

  2. anon says

    I think the major problem with this show is the short running time. Both the short 22 minute episodes and then only 8 episodes in total. That’s just under 3 hours total time. You can’t really tell 3 complete stories in that amount of time.

  3. says

    I am hooked — but I was never of the opinion that the show was boring, not from the beginning. As the plot progresses, I become more engrossed. And I agree that Augustin has become insufferable. He didn’t seem so thrilled with his decisions in that last scene as he videotaped his boyfriend and CJ… That said, I can’t believe there are only 2 episodes left this season! Hopefully next time around HBO will order more, because this is just a tease.

  4. Robert Rhea says

    The story lines are getting better, agreed. The show is still insufferably short with only incremental story development. Its like trying to watch a movie in nothing but previews. Its a waste of incredible talent.

    If it survives into a second season, the show runners need to be scrapped and replaced with people who know what they are doing.

  5. IJelly says

    I think the show is wonderful. I get that some folks might not be into it, but I don’t get the absolute bile that’s been tossed around about the show. We really have a knack for being the most vicious to our own.

  6. jamal49 says

    @ANON I think you’ve nailed the problem. Most series on HBO or SHO generally get the 52-minute treatment. Time for plot set-ups, character development, the usual things that make a series interesting. Of course, let’s first understand that most gay men ARE boring and their lives ARE boring and that if you are going to make a series with impact and interest, you’ve got to have something in the plot that at least promises a bit of drama. Unfortunately, “Looking” thinks that just showing gay men living their lives in San Francisco should be enough to draw anyone’s interest. Well, in case anyone hasn’t been paying attention, SF isn’t all that interesting, gay-wise, anymore and in about ten more years, SF’s fabled gay presence will have been forcibly dispersed on the winds of heterosexual dominance.

  7. SteveDenver says

    30 minutes is short, BUT I’LL TAKE IT!

    Each year the next crop of network TV shows shows up and throws up: overdressed, painfully made-up and muscled-up casts of cops with only one case to work, vampires and zombies whose next acting job for their marginal skills will be porn, and leftovers from last century’s sitcoms trying to make a comeback.

    I like how LOOKING’s characters are fallible, susceptible, regretful, sometimes oblivious, and very often reminiscent of people I’ve known. They also have rusty sinks, dirty dishes, and live in a real world that seems not too far out of reach.

    LOOKING is awesome soup served in portions that are too damn small, but still delicious.

  8. Reggie777 says

    Overall, I love this show. Not every tv show has to have explosions, car chases, etc. The characters are human, and for me, lovable, and interesting.
    My only criticism is the length of the eps. Shows like this need a full hour to get going. And definitely I’d love to see more eps to the season.

  9. Samuel says

    Right from episode one, Looking has been the most honest and naturalistic representation of gay men and their relationships that I have ever seen on TV. It a shame the subtlety has gone over the heads of the vocal detractors. I’ve been flummoxed by the accusations of it being ‘boring’, and could hardly believe we were watching the same show. But as my Dad always drilled into me, only boring people get bored.

  10. Michael Wright says

    I liked last night’s episode. Gay life in SF can be” boring.” I know, I lived there 20 years. Get up, go to work, friend’s birthday party in a park, another friend being a jerk to your new boyfriend, etc. All rather mundane.

  11. Astro says

    I’ve watched each episode so far, and I’ve really been rooting for the show, because I REALLY want it to be good, but I was also in the “this show is slow and boring” camp ill the excellent “Before Sunrise”-esque episode 5 with Patrick and Richie

    it’s like the set up is there, the issues of modern gay living in a major US city, its there, but that its just not gelling.

    Perhaps it is the 1/2 hour runtime that’s shooting it in the foot, since it never gets to establish itself.

    It’s like its almost TOO laid back..I mean most don’t watch tv for documentaries..its mostly for some comedy or drama or some sort of escapism.

  12. Dimitri says

    The latest episode hit a nerve in that it brought up the uncomfortable reality of race & class. I think many of us have been there, dealing with that awkward moment of either confronting the “other” as a group or being the “other”. Subtle but strong stuff and important because it leads to introspection & questions.

  13. emjayay says

    The main character in the director’s breakthrough film couldn’t have been more boring. Lived in a provincial city in a council flat, had the same lifeguard job he probably got after high school, and had straight married friends with kids probably from high school. His idea of home decor was postcards thumbtacked to the wall, and his idea of entertaining was instant coffee. But it was mesmerizing.

    Of course, he was really Lord Gillingham.

  14. Zlick says

    Whoa! Was that an actual moment of conflict, i.e., drama, on a television show – when Augustin dissed Patrick and Richie in disgusting fashion and opened up a riff between the new boyfriends? How un-Looking-like of this show, which has avoided any kind of conflict or bad guy in search of being oh-so-natural that it lacks any freaking DRAMA.

    I don’t hate the show, but it’s meandering slavishness to naturalism is bothersome and has not exactly hooked me. And the characters are just annoying me. Patrick is goofy adorkable, but HE’s the one who’s insufferable, while Augustin is just a plain jerkwad who is totally and utterly unlikable.

    At this pace and style, this show is not getting anywhere with a paltry 8-episode run. If it’s renewed and somehow succeeds, this season will be just another one of those awkward first seasons it’s bizarre to look back on before a show found its footing. But I don’t see how another paltry 3-hour season can bring it anywhere interesting even if the entire show is revamped.

  15. Kevin says

    I second what many have said in the comments. The biggest problem is how short the episodes are. With that being said I find the show very natural and an accurate portrayal of people. I’m not saying it represents the gay community. No show represents its audience.
    Desperate Housewives does’t represent suburban housewives and Glee doesn’t represent the typical high school kid, etc. The idea isn’t for a show to speak for a group, it’s to highlight both the good and bad characteristics we find in certain pockets of people.

    It’s interesting all the comments about Agustín – I agree for one – but again, isn’t it just an accurate reflection? We all have that friend who is creative and obnoxious. If everyone was educated, well-spoken and caring to their partners there wouldn’t be much to go on.

    All in all I really do love the show and I give credit to all those involved. HBO needs to renew and order hour long episodes though!

  16. tsk tsk tsk says

    22mins??? Even HBO’s “Sex and the City” was a full 30mins long for each episode…they had to edit them down to 22mins for regular tv syndication repeats. So is HBO already forcing a 22min time limit? If they can’t give us a full hour at least give us the full 30mins. There is a lot you could do in 7 more minutes with this show.

  17. JonnyNYNY2FLFL says

    With all the criticism of “Looking”, it’s ironic this episode featured a piñata in the park. Unfortunately, with the show, there are no goodies inside.

    The hint of action & conflict among the characters last night was contrived. At this point, who cares about any of them?

    The sad fact is that the writing of the series has been consistently lame. It would take a miracle to turn this series around in its final two episodes.

    Sunday nights have been epic in the history of HBO programming. With “Looking” in the lineup, the audience gets a bucket of cold water thrown upon them. The premium channels get thousands of pitches every season. Hopefully, the next gay-themed series greenlighted will get greater scrutiny for quality & not just check-off the box for targeting a specific demographic known for high disposal income.

  18. Meh says

    In which there are a few points:

    *Richie the sometime Esta Noche doorman who power-cruised Patrick on Muni is all prim about Patrick meeting Dom via hookup.

    * Patrick does his little “I’m so gay!” dance at Dolores Park in the middle of a huge gay SF throng, in broad daylight, without riot control present. Good lord.

    * Dom, a ridiculously handsome 40 year old San Franciscan, moans about his social death in a culture where hot daddy types are hunted with the coldly rapacious hunger of a pack of starving velociraptors.

    * Dom, a ridiculously handsome 40 year old San Franciscan, lacks the presentational sense to at least come up with a catchy cuisine name for his half-million-dollar sales pitch and continues to utter THE DISH WE DO NOT NAME like a magical incantation.

    * Agustin, pretty much all the time. I have no idea who Agustin is supposed to be except “the guy that is obviously bored with his boyfriend and can’t admit it yet.”

    It’s not that Looking is boring, it has some really good scenes! That moment where Patrick sees Kevin’s partner for the first time and manages to silently, squirmingly convey his dismay at how outclassed he feels: oh, quite good. We’ve all been there. That he would then gracelessly embarrass Richie in his flustered state felt natural, nicely done.

    It’s that every good moment is followed by an equally clunky, tone-deaf moment that overwhelms it. I keep wondering if someone running or editing the show is actually bipolar.

  19. Andy says

    I hate how Latinos, especially Mexicans like Richie, are always portrayed as extremely superstitious, in the name of “culture”. We’re not all psychic-visiting, good-luck-charm-wearing idiots, constantly trying to ward off the evil spirits. I realize some might find it a charming little slice of Latino culture, but it’s really getting to be a tiresome stereotype.

  20. Icebloo says

    Who the hell is writing this ?

    Firstly we have Patrick saying he is not a bottom but then we find out he and Dom met each other when they hooked up. Dom is a total top so how did that work ? It seems they have different writers each week who obviously don’t research what has been said in previous episodes !

    Secondly Jonathan Groff has to be THE WORST over the top actor on TV. Why do we have to suffer through his smugness every week ? Finally this week we did not have him shoving food in his mouth like an animal and talking with his mouth full. He is disgusting !

    Thirdly the scripts are SO SO SO predictable – we knew Augustine and his partner would end up having sex with the prostitute, we knew Patrick would be attracted to his boss, we knew Dom would misinterpret his relationship with Scott Bakula, we knew Patrick would be ashamed of Richie, we knew they would do the same old 40 is the death of a gay man routine that has been done in every gay drama. I mean – COME ON ! Let’s have some originality !

    On a positive note I LOVE the character of Richie. This is the first time I have seen this actor and he is the best one in the whole show. I hope they don’t write him out because the main three characters are dismal. I am also loving Scott Bakula’s character and I like the fact they have not turned him into a lecherous old man. He seems to be a nice, stable genuine man.

    Finally….how the hell do they expect us to believe Dom is only 39 ? He looks 49 !

  21. truthteller says

    @ Andy:

    The reason Richie is such a good character is because he exposes the internalized shame of being Latino you expose in your comment:

    “I hate how Latinos, especially Mexicans like Richie, are always portrayed as extremely superstitious, in the name of “culture”. We’re not all psychic-visiting, good-luck-charm-wearing idiots, constantly trying to ward off the evil spirits.”

    Having faith or a spiritual life does not make one an idiot. You remind me of Agustin. He too rejects his roots to fit in with the dominant culture.

  22. LJC says

    This show has some problems but I really love the low key approach. Perhaps just being gay isn’t really all that dramatic or interesting anymore. I read today that in San Francisco the new thing is “post gay”. Does that mean anonymous?

  23. crispy says

    “Firstly we have Patrick saying he is not a bottom but then we find out he and Dom met each other when they hooked up. Dom is a total top so how did that work ?”

    Riiiiiight, because a bottom claiming he’s a top has never happened in the history of gaydom.

    Also, how do you know Dom is a total top? I don’t believe that’s ever been mentioned on the show.

    Also also, you are aware that hook-ups occur without anal sex, right?

    Yet again, I find that the people who complain the loudest about the show tend to be the most clueless.

  24. David says

    They should make the show about the comments about the show – that would provide some drama! I’ll refrain from passing judgement on the people who so vehemently hate this show except to say their lives as gay men (and humans) must be very different than mine to not find something to connect to in these stories. I waited with anticipation all week to have another chance to see Patrick and Richie together and I know I’ll be spending this week dreading whatever’s going down at that wedding next week.

  25. StudioTodd says

    Here’s my dilemma–I agree that the show is getting better and better with every episode.

    But while I am growing to like the show more with each episode, I find that I dislike some of the main characters a little more each week.

    Augustin is a given–pretentious snotty and hateful little art snob who treats the people who care for him like crap while constantly moaning about how terrible everything is.

    But Patrick…I had high hopes for him, and I looked forward to watching him try to navigate a dating scene that he clearly doesn’t completely understand.

    However, he is proving to be such an emotionally tone-deaf, classist, graceless and thoughtless prick that I’m having a tough time watching him (given what I assume he will inevitably do to Richie).

    I have a feeling that the show will try to play it so that Patrick doesn’t get past his thinly disguised prejudices, yet the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for him because, of course, he’ll just hate himself for that character flaw (just not enough to change it). And Richie will probably come off as seeming to be inflexible and unforgiving because he will refuse to overlook it.

    I identify most with Dom, I suppose (being over 40 and still not where I’d like to be in my life), but it’s hard to muster up any sympathy for a guy who is that goodlooking and still worrying about his age pushing him outside the sexual “in-crowd” social circle. He’s “in” and has always been “in.” No one is going to kick him out of bed any time soon.

    I’ll still watch…I guess I don’t need to like every character…hell, I don’t even like all of my friends and I stick with them…

  26. jacob says

    I saw the first show. I found it tired. Gay or not I didn’t waste my time on repetitive themes, scenes, and stories dressed up to be more than what it is. But what I seem to keep tuning into is this message board where people also tend to say the same things over and over while spouting how “right” they are about his series.

    This is not more entertaining, but more telling of what gay men are really like and how they “really” speak and sometimes relate to one another. And with that the “tiredness” of the lives of these gay men on TV do reflect how we many many of us actually are. How unfortunate this is what matters to some people. And how angry some people are about their lives that seep out into these comments.

    If nothing else, and time and ratings will tell if it will last, I hope those that “connect” continue to, and those that don’t spend more energy enjoying something else.

    P.S. People are dying around the world for just being gay, and others whine about an 8 episode TV show.

  27. Samuel says

    @Jacob, I keep seeing people say paraphrased versions of that criticism that Looking is tired clichés that they have seen a million times before in ‘gay’ TV shows… what I would like to ask you and all the others who say that is: Where? Which shows? I’d love to see specific examples of where you/others think this has all been done before, and/or better?

    (Because I think I have seen every GTM movie and TV show ever made, and I’d love to know what the detractors are referring to when they say that… )

  28. Ryan says

    This show is so BOOOOOORRRRIINNNG. How about a show where they all live the in same apartment complex and one of them goes insane and tries to blow it up with them all inside it. Or a show where one of them gets abducted by space aliens? Or a show where they have to solve like gay crimes? Or how about gay zombies??? Where are the gay zombies? Or how about a show where they all do a fabulous dance routine and start singing for no reason. And WHERE the EFF is Darren Criss???? Also, it is far too short. I was just enjoying being rude about it and impressing my little coterie of friends with how funny and clever I am, and then it ended!!! Literally, like NOBODY is watching this show right now. The audience figures started at zero for the first episode and have since gone down to negative figures. That’s literally the truth. Signed, Ryan Murphy.

  29. EchtKultig says

    “I think the major problem with this show is the short running time. Both the short 22 minute episodes and then only 8 episodes in total. That’s just under 3 hours total time. You can’t really tell 3 complete stories in that amount of time.”

    Look, you’re gay…HBO executives probably think you’re a meth addict with a very short attention span. (ok, ok, I’m being sarcastic. I couldn’t resist.)

    “SF’s fabled gay presence will have been forcibly dispersed on the winds of heterosexual dominance.”

    Just as the gays forcefully dispersed what was there before. There was a recent article in the Guardian about this.

  30. drjustino says

    I’ll say it again, I like this show! Yes, there are a fair number who come to this forum to whine about it, but it seems their numbers are fewer and fewer each week, so that’s a plus. I do agree with the masses that 26-27 minutes is too short…I wonder how people would feel about it if they binge-watched the 8 episodes. Why can’t HBO make it more like 40 minutes? Haven’t they done that before,and filled the other 20 with something short like Real Sex? While last week’s Episode 5 was by and large the best so far, this one was pretty good, maybe the second-best? I still say Augustin is my least-favorite character, just can’t relate to him (I’ve said it from the beginning, and now everyone else seems to realize it) but maybe they are just positioning him as the one you love to hate. Ritchie is now my favorite, and Patrick/Jonathan Groff my second favorite. I don’t see why some are critical of him, I think he is a great actor, and I think he is playing this role well, of a WASPy 20-30ish gay man with a decent career, but pretty clueless when it comes to navigating modern gay dating, I think there are a lot of guys like that today. They seem to have put his relationship with his boss on hold for now, but maybe that will come back. All I can say is my husband and I watch every week because like it or not, there is nothing else like this on mainstream television, and who doesn’t like to watch a show about their people? (Apparently bitter people who complain on this forum don’t like to watch.) Give me a show about gays for something different, rather than watching a bit gay character on some random straight show! Stick it, haters, go back to watching your straight shows!

  31. Simon says

    The comments on how boring the show is remind me of an article in The Times in which the director of ‘Gravity’ did a test screening and asked for audience comments on how to improve the film. The most frequent comments were (i) add an alien to the plot and (ii) add a love story between the ill-fated astronaut and the guy in mission control. Seriously?

    The “boring” comments also remind me of another article in which ‘True Detective’ was compared to ‘The Killing’ and several other shows in which detectives chase a serial killer and the pursuit exposes problems in their lives. One of the show runners mentioned that the serial killer plot gets the audience’s attention so the writers can focus on other issues, like what happens to a couple when they lose a child. Are audiences really so jaded that the only way to get their attention is to create a gruesome serial killer? If you want to write a show about a couple losing a child, why not just write about that? The answer seems to be that if you create a show with no serial killer, you’ll get exactly the kind of “boring” comments we see in this thread.

    I am not interested in another show about characters, gay or straight, who are chasing a serial killer. Or about fabulously wealthy people behaving badly. The ‘Looking’ characters are ordinary people living ordinary lives. They’re dealing with exactly the sort of career and relationship issues that real people actually face. The only question is, does the show handle those issues in a way that is realistic and also interesting? For me, the answer is “Yes.”

  32. crispy says

    EW is reporting that Sunday night’s episode hit a record high of 749,000 viewers. That’s putting it close to Girls numbers. It’s starting to have a good chance of getting renewed.

  33. brad says

    I’m gay. I live in SF. I’m White. I have a beard. I work out. I date. I hookup. I drink. I smoke pot. I’m 35. I’m a professional. I have female friends. I use condoms. I’ve had threesomes. My lovers and boyfriends have been every race. I’ve grown up watching a lot of TV. Gay characters, straight characters, blah blah. And I expect a bit more from this show at this point in my life. It’s not the acting to me. It’s story lines and the writing. It’s hard to care about these characters lives or perspectives.

    Weekend was great because it was so relatable no matter all the other variables. I had a response. This show is trying too hard and not enough. And I don’t watch “just because it’s gay.” There are so many choices to do that. Rupaul’s show is gay. But I’m not interested, not because I’m some self-hating queer with internalized homophobia, but because it’s not interesting to stimulate me and the format is not for me. So, to all those that don’t like Looking, turn the channel. I guarantee something else is on.

    gay theses.

  34. drjustino says

    To Brad: I’m gay, I DON’T live in SF, I’m white, I have a beard, I work out occasionally. I DON’T date (I’m married). I drink, I smoke pot on rare occasion. I’m also (newly) 35. I’m a professional. I have female friends. I use condoms. I have friends of every race. I grew up watching TV. What else do you expect of this show “at this point in your life?” Do you expect meth-rage a la Breaking Bad? Do you expect blood spatter a la Dexter? I’m so sorry that the story lines are so boring to you as you think your life in SF is better. Many, if not most, DO care about the characters, but you apparently don’t have to because you can run off and do your thing in the prime of your life in SF. I DON’T think there are many choices to “watch gay” – RuPaul’s is one of the only other “mainstream” gay shows, and that is (semi) reality TV, and honestly not something I’d ever watch –I like drag shows, I just don’t like a TV show about that.

  35. tdy85 says

    The first two episodes were on the boring side, but with such a short run time, who can blame them? Introductions and character development are necessary for a show like this. That being said, I really grew to like the series more and more with each subsequent episode. The scene last week with Kevin, his bf, Patrick, and Richie at the park was cringeworthy and oh so real. We’ve all been there no? Really like the underlying questions about race and class, esp with the gentrification issues going on in SF right now.

    Like a previous commenter mentioned, they’ll inevitably pair up Patrick and Kevin… can smell it from a mile away. A part of me wishes they won’t go the obvious route though, especially since I’m enjoying Richie’s role. Augustin is insufferable… but I’m sort of enjoying watching his slow and steady meltdown. And p*** p*** chicken aside, I can relate to Dom’s struggles and his need to do something more with his life.

    I don’t understand the claims of “boring”, especially after the last few episodes. But then again, I find the typical zombie/serial killer fare pretty boring as well. Can’t please everyone.

    Wish the show was an hour long so they can dig a little deeper into the multiple story-lines. Definitely hoping for a second season.

  36. Dawnrunner says

    In his review of Looking in Out Magazine, Christopher Glazek sums up audience reactions to the show pretty well:

    “The way you feel about Looking may well line up with how you feel about life in general. Do you like most people? Do you appreciate the everyday? You can be a perfect misanthrope and still love Sex and the City. Looking, like life, is more demanding.”

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