Looking – HBO
Looking is the latest in the HBO family of series to be given the greenlight and follows a long tradition of gay television shows being made into hits. Looking premieres a mere 8 episodes and then has now been greenlit for a second season. The show is set in San Francisco and follows a group of gay guys on their many different paths and most importantly relationships.
The main character is the meat of this show, he is the HGN (Hot Gay Nerd, something that we don’t see a lot of in pop culture. He is about to turn 30 and works in the video game industry as a designer and finds himself completely misunderstood by the community, unable to find an area to fit in and more importantly struggles with relationships.
Sexy is something that HBO tends to not shy away from, and this is the part of this series that disappointed me the most. While there are several scenes it is nothing compares to the steaminess of Sex & The City or Boardwalk Empire. This show is taking place at such an important time in history when as a society we have accepted homosexual as no longer a choice, rather now as actual human beings and not to get all Lady GaGa on you but “born this way”.
The show touches on important issues like the introduction of gay marriage and deals an interesting conversation about how this has been done to make us seem “normal” and this is a chord that stuck with me.
Issues of age and life events are tacked head on, and this is something only seen in shows like Queer As Folk who push the “old man on young man” thing instead we see a 39 year old, dealing with being a waiter for 10 years straight and needing to do something more before he turns 40 because of past relationship and has kind of being standing still. This storyline is a little flimsy as really who is going to believe that no one in San Fran has ever heard of or had peri peri chicken before?
Dealing with race and inter-racial relationships is another topic that I haven’t seen in a gay themed show and is dealt with.
The gay group of friends that are the central point of this show are not your usual fare, yes there is the token hag, the old one, the couple, the single fat one, the main character.
Some of the story arcs are surprising and take a weird turn and come out of nowhere. A surprise fight between three characters is kind of weird and comes from nowhere.
The main character can’t deal with conflict, instead makes snap decisions attempting at band aid fixes for issues that the other can’t get past.
The show delves into issues of money and how things are portrayed in gay culture and how all of this is reciprocated. Sometimes things aren’t always as easy as we think, sometimes they don’t ring true to who we are or what we want.
The underlying message of “Looking” feels like we, the audience are looking at gay culture, getting a glimpse of real world type situations and people that aren’t a caricature or overcast stereotype. It is through this that an organic vibe eminates from every angle of this show.
Dealing with mother and son relationships and stereotypes is also something that is explored well in this show. Blaming parents for how we act in relationships is all too familiar and is explained in intricate detail in this show.
Overall this show delivers an engaging 8 episode story arc, the characters are complex and engaging, the setting of San Fransisco is a welcome change from the tired streets of New York. Complex relationships between friends, lovers and family shouldn’t feel so fresh, but this show presents in this way. It is inspiring that a show can hook me in just 8 episodes and provide a season worth of material to keep me hungering for season 2. If you are looking to get hooked on something in the impending desert of TV then this is it!
Looking gets 4 and a half peri peri chicken steaks out of five.