“Looking” For Reality: Are HBO’s Casual Sex Scenes “Real” Enough?

hbo-looking-sex-scenesWhen Looking writer/director Andrew Haigh began filming the highly-anticipated sex scenes for HBO’s new gay series about the (sex) lives of three gay men living in San Francisco, he set out to capture some of the most “realistic” encounters ever to be seen on the small screen.

In November, leading man Jonathan Groff told Out that “what we’re trying to dispelay is a reality of gay sex as opposed to the salaciousness of gay sex,” with an emphasis on the salaciousness. They weren’t trying to rework the raunchy, passionate encounters of Queer as Folk, but aimed for the kind of “normal” and sometimes awkward tales you’d expect to discuss over drinks with your gay pals at the bar.

It’s much harder to film realistic sex for television more than it is for movies—we would know—but we’d say Looking is doing a fine job so far.

There was, for instance…


That semi-happening hand job in the first 30 seconds of the first episode


That exciting threesome in the art studio


The #scrufflove


The unexpected foreskin fail/failed hookup


…and who could forget that intense pounding on last Sunday’s episode?!

Sure, you’ve only seen two episodes so far (three if you have HBO GO!), but tell us: Is the “realistic sex” in Looking living up to the hype?

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  • Shofixti

    Sex should have more laughter and silliness and also more vocal negotiation or banter. And also more confusion, difficulty and farts.

  • AuntieChrist

    If I want to see porn ( which I don’t) I’ll get porn..To me it is so much better to develop the story and characters. The suggestion of sex, the leading up to and a bit of sex is better than raw trashy gratuitous humping…But whatever..There is trash and there is class, I like the middle ground.

  • chaddyboy6

    I mean that is what you deem important about the show? the casual sex scenes. Sad and sad that anyone would even care.

  • MK Ultra

    I think sex in the show heightens the atmosphere.

  • Stache1

    Thanks. I didn’t realize there was 3 episodes. Now I have another one to watch tonight;)

  • Stache1

    The QAF sex scenes were pretty unrealistic but somehow fit the show because it was kind of a campy show. If their going for realism then it’s going to be awkward and messy and that’s just fine.

  • mz.sam

    As the series progresses, if director Andrew Haigh directs his scenes comparable to his Weekend (2011) then Looking would be successfully worthy of its stand alone uniqueness.

  • viveutvivas

    I found Weekend bleak and not sexy at all.

    I don’t have HBO but the pictures above look promising. They are not “real” for me though, in the sens that, with the odd exception, the majority of guys I get to meet around here are not nearly as good-looking.

  • RomanDHudson

    I find this show repulsive. It makes gay men look like whores. And it feels to me as if HBO is trying to recreate “Queer as Folk” from Showtime. In fact, it seems every show I see about gay men only revolve around the SEX. WHY? I am sorry, but not all gay men act like whores. For some reason it like fad or something. That is what it is being made out to be. I know men who have husbands and 20 different boyfriends who also have to take HIV meds because the feel like they can’t be faithful or they just can’t keep it in their paints. But I also know LOTS of other gay men who also think this kind of behavior is not them and does not represent the gay community. I mean, I don’t the sex scenes as long as they actually put some substance too it. Don’t make the show a GIANT soft porn series.

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  • viveutvivas

    @RomanDHudson, first, there is nothing wrong with sleeping around unless you are some moralistic religious fanatic. The sexual revolution happened 50 years ago and here we are still sl*t-shaming.

    Second, who would want to watch a show about boring middle-class married people? People watch TV shows like this to escape the humdrum of their own lives, not to get an education in Judaeo-Christian moral values.

  • Ron Jackson

    Although being gay is a LOT about sex lets not get too explicit. It’s not porn. I do think they shout NOT shy away from nudity though. Other HBO shows can show full frontal nudity in women, why not shows about gay guys.

  • sportyguy1983

    Being gay is about sex? Really? No wonder some people think gays are deviants.

    This show so far has shown to be a dub. QAF was worse, but at least that show had better eye candy.

  • Spike

    How much his HBO paying Queerty to promote Gay/Sex In The City?

    The Web TV show, Hustling, does a much better job with the sex scenes. 100 times more believable.

  • Stache1

    @RomanDHudson: The only problem with your ideal show is that no one would bother watching. This isn’t a new PR campaign to make Gay Men look like saints. Like most shows they need actual viewers.

  • Stache1

    @sportyguy1983: Maybe you should just say IMO since there’s allot of us here that like the show and what their doing with it. Hollywood uses sex all the time in their adult shows that feature primarily straight people too. Do I then just assume that all straight people are deviants. Not following your logic.

  • drivendervish

    Guys who are complaining that “looking” isn’t a realistic portrayal of the everyday lives of gay men have fallen into the trap of thinking that all gay people are alike. The behavior patterns and sexual proclivities of gay men are wildly varied and what feels “authentic” to me may seem contrived and unrealistic to you. Most of the creative people involved in this show are gay so I have to believe that their collective experience has gone a long way to influence the direction and presentation of this show. So who am I to say it isn’t “real”. The underlying theme in these comments seems to be a desire to ensure that gay men are presented in a manner that is palatable to straight people in the hopes of gaining more acceptance and support. Forget it, no straight guys are watching!

  • Jersey2013

    I think the scruff love scene was pretty close to natural. It was intimate and fun and one of the guys didn’t even cum because he had to get on with his day. Now its true that a big old threesome going on for 5 hours has also been natural and maybe they’ll get to that too.

  • jonathanyoungii

    I’ve never seen a “realistic” depiction of gay sex. Everyone has their own little image cooked up in their head about what “realistic” sex is, and that’s what gets put on film. Doesn’t mean their view is more correct than anothers, it’s just another take on it. Just like “Looking” has it’s own take on sex; just another viewpoint.

  • jasentylar

    @viveutvivas: Weekend wasn’t supposed to be sexy. It was romance and heartbreak and pure connection. All those emotions…including desperation. Sexy..no..it wasn’t aiming for sexy. Looking is very realistic. I don’t find all the guys on the show attractive…to each its own. The Grindr hookup seemed very real to me. He just wanted to get off and boy did he.lol…I like the show. Jonathan Groff’s character can be a bit much at times, but even him I enjoy. It’s nice to have a show even try to depict what it’s like for someone that comes from where we do.

  • Pete

    @sportyguy1983: Unfortunately you hit the nail on the head. While I readily embrace my homosexuality (several times a week), I’m simply not fabulous enough to be a full-fledged gay.

  • NJjoe

    the sex on “Looking” is more believeable than QAF. I love the fact that
    the actors don’t resort to shaving their chests. Scott Bakula looks so hot at almost 60…incredible body and a little hairy. If I ran into him at a bath house, oh Lord, look out! Hahaha.

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