In 2014, HBO launched Looking, a groundbreaking dramedy about three friends living in the stylish, grungy ‘hoods of San Francisco. With the fight for marriage equality gaining momentum in the courts, the community continued to make strides both legally and socially, finding acceptance as never before. The show sought to explore that progress through its three leads, as they searched for love, and ultimately, for their place in this rapidly changing world.
Though it ran only two seasons (plus an HBO movie), the groundbreaking series spawned a considerable legacy. Leads Jonathan Groff, Frankie Alvarez and Murray Bartlet all landed other important roles, and Andrew Haigh achieved success in feature films, directing indie gems like Lean on Pete and 45 Years. Critics, meanwhile, compared the show favorably to other smart series like Sex in the City for its depiction of urban life and a group of friends living as a kind of surrogate family.
To celebrate the five year anniversary of Looking, HBO has made the entire series available for streaming on its service HBO NOW. Perhaps the time has come for a rewatch to revisit some interesting characters, and see just how much the world has changed, or just to hang out some old familiar friends for the long weekend.
People were still enjoying their high from QUEER AS FOLK and then LOOKING came along and it was a new kind of gay show…and sadly…the masses were not ready for it. Everything about LOOKING was amazing but it had one flaw……shitty timing. HBO was itching for a new smash hit and just wasn’t interested in letting LOOKING have the time to get discovered by the audience the show was meant for.
I find it oddly interesting that when we get a shipment of LOOKING Series DVDs in at my store…they are sold out within the week and since every queer in this burg already owns a copy…you have to wonder who is buying them. You don’t have to wonder why they are getting purchased because that one is easy…….LOOKING is brilliant.
If you went by all the constant bitching on Queerty you’d think Looking was the worst show ever conceived. Never ending complaints. It doesn’t represent everyone, it’s boring,, etc. The problem was the show started listening and the characters changed. Then the bitchers complained about that as well.
Looking was great and if HBO gave it just a little bit more time I have no doubt it would’ve been a huge hit. It catered to a more mature crowd. It’s like a what QAF would’ve been when it grew up.
Vince – I have to agree with you. But it wasn’t just Queerty. Seems like everything I remember reading about Looking in the gay press was so bad that I didn’t even bother watching it. One day, long after the show was canceled, I saw the first season DVD on sale for like $10, bought it, and fell in love. By now, I own the whole series and I’ve watched it a few times, and I’ve about decided it was wonderful all the way through. So sorry I didn’t give it a chance when it was running.
Couldn’t agree with you more. Enjoyed Looking alot; wished it had been given the opportunity to further develop. I was one of the few people on the earth that didn’t enjoy QAF and I was 22 when it aired. Couldn’t relate. Alot of possibilities & stories to tell with Looking, just didn’t have the opportunity to expand. With the resurgence of shows being resurrected, I wish Looking was one of them. It really was underappreciated. At least we have it on dvd to enjoy.
Oh now the dating app’s barkers are talking to each other?
I really tried to give Looking a chance because we need those shows on TV, but it took to long to find its footing. Season 1 was horrible. Season 2 was better. The movie wasn’t great but I did like the ending.
I really enjoyed the show. I could see some of my youth in it, but when everyone is gorgeous, it does seem a bit offputting. I’m just glad senior gay men were portrayed. Certainly, I enjoy a good looking man of any age, but that’s not my life. It was an escape from it.
This show is not popular (the movie flopped as well) because it only caters to a very small segment of the urban gay viewers, who don’t seem to have any concerns of their lives other than finding their next suitable mate. It fails to resonate with the everyday gay population, who is not part of the super liberal San Francisco gay bubble.
Why don’t you come up with your own show then. Maybe Kirk Cameron can help you. Of coarse no one but a few uptight mental cases would watch it but oh well.
Vince, you have every right to disagree with my sentiments about Looking but it doesn’t alter the fact that the show ultimately failed the audience. That ship has sailed long before the second season ended and even the movie couldn’t turn the tide.
I don’t recall “Looking” being very political, so where did the “super liberal San Francisco gay bubble” kick in? Oh yeah, I think one character dated an aide to a city official or something, but even then there wasn’t much political talk. One character worked at a non-profit (gasp!) so he was probably some sort of communist in your world. Maybe one character said something nice about transgenders or something and of course you would hate that.
How can one tell if a made for HBO only on HBO film flopped? I would love to see the stats that support such a claim.
I thought it was a snoozefest outside of Richie (Raúl Castillo), with the same storylines–mostly middle-class 30-something gay white cis-men trying to get their acts together in an urban setting–of so many films, etc. but that’s me. So HereIAm’s point is worth considering: what would a TV show that depicted the lives of gay men in other settings–urban but not on the coasts, suburban or exurban or rural, Midwestern or Southern, working-class, semi-out and out, etc.–look like? Why doesn’t TV show us? What about older gay people and couples? What about more people of color? Looking sort of gestured to that, but then it was set in a city and region with one of the largest Asian American populations in the US, and barely a single Asian American was part of the cast, etc. Girls was similarly monochrome, but to her credit, Lena Dunham and her writers knew how to craft interesting and yet lifelike plots and storylines. Looking often felt like could be renamed Drifting.
Mostly 30-something cis white men? What show did you watch? Looking had one of the more diverse casts in many ways that any other LGBT show before.
Patrick, Kevin & Eddie were the only white 30-something cis men in the main or even the consistently recurring cast.
Augistin and Ritchie were Hispanic; Frank, Augustin’s boyfriend in season 1 was half Nigerian. Dom was in his 40s. Even Eddie was a hairy bear, who was HIV+. As for older gays, Scott Bakula, who played Dom’s interest was a year or two away from 60 when he filmed that show. Malik, Doris’s love interst in season 2 was black.
As for not “relating,” QAF got the same criticism. It doesn’t represent ME. In which interview did the creators of EITHER show say they set out to represent the LGBT community as a whole? Both shows focused on a specific group of friends. Can you say your specific circle of close friends can check off EVERY single group/ethnicity/sexuality? Perhaps it was more an issue of unrealistic expectations. Some of us were just happy to see representation of any kind out there and people like you killed it with your self centered mentality. Personally, I don’t wanna see people exactly like me on television.
Is someone at Queerty related to Looking’s creator?! You guys relentlessly promoted the series, even as it tanked fairly conclusively. Now you’re trying to talk up its “legacy” with some pretty spurious claims. For one thing, Jonathan Groff was already an established broadway and TV actor prior to Looking; and the show did zilch for his career. It failed to click with gay audiences because the characters were uniformly unlikeable, the stories lame and predictable, and its take on the “gay community” didn’t chime with the actual gay community.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for nearly 40 years and no one I know here liked Looking. The characters were stereotypes, the plots were lame, and the show bore little resemblance to real life here. The actors, for the most part, did the best they could with the crappy scripts but the show never connected with audiences. Appearing in Looking did little for anyone’s career—and may have damaged some. Ironically, QAF was a better show with more developed characters and scripts—even if the Pittsburgh location was improbable. And that’s saying a lot.
QAF is “a better show with more developed characters and scripts”? Are you guys in SF crazy? QAF probably was a pioneer show in many aspects but characters were flat, the writing awful, and the acting trash.
In the words of Regina George, stop trying to make “Fetch” happen. It’s not going to happen…
When the show is promoted with Groff trying to find himself and find love in the city and then the first 4 minutes of the show, he’s cruising in a dark park giving a BJ, I gave up. Gay cliches are horrible and I’m glad that heteros saw that and think that behavior is normal.
So that DOESN’T happen in real life, I guess?
I enjoyed it, was sad to see it go, and told HBO. (that last one did absolutely no good, well they did give me a code for 3 free months of online access which made little sense.)
“People were still enjoying their high from QUEER AS FOLK and then LOOKING came along…” 9 years later? I think people were over QAF. Anyway, I liked Looking…I really think it would have done better if the episodes were longer, just as you started to get interested in an episode, it was over and you had to wait a week for the next one. Not many dramas succeed in ½ hour time slots, you need 45+ minutes. And I appreciated the fact that they did a movie to end up the series and tie up loose ends.
Looking was a good show!!
I loved it when it was on and I love it now. This and Sense8….gone too soon.
I enjoyed the show. C/not relate to Patrick but I did like him. He needed to grow up. For some gay men its hard to figure out who exactly what you really want. That was Patrick.
I’m not surprised that the show didn’t last. Patrick was not a likeable character at all. If you’re going to have someone that self absorbed as the lead of a show, he better be charming as hell in other ways. He wasn’t. You can’t overcome people hating your main character.
I was 22 when Queer as Folk came out and I found it totally trashy and set the gay rights movement back by about 20 years…whereas I found LOOKING to be a wonderful, fully realized drama of gay men trying to find themselves. Queer as Folk was nothing but sex and drugs and trash.
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