“Looking” Star Raúl Castillo On How The Series Handles Ethnic Diversity

lookingsfpremiere5So effortlessly. It doesn’t feel forced, just in the way the story doesn’t feel forced. It makes sense. It’s similar to how the sex on the show is very story-driven. I think that’s the case, too, with these kind of nuances we’re talking about. It’s not just for the sake of diversity, it’s to move the story forward…Even the way Patrick and Richie meet on the bus. One of the reasons I’m proud to be a New York actor is that I get to jump on the train and be around so many people. It’s not like big cities in the South where there’s a lot of segregation. There’s no separation. I love how in the first episode these two characters meet in that way. In L.A., public transportation feels like it’s just for the economically marginalized. But in San Francisco and in New York, you feel like you see people from all walks of life on public transportation. In the same way, the show deals with sexuality, it deals with race. It feels natural. The characters talk about their differences, but the show isn’t about their differences. Their differences are on the table, but it’s more about what they share, what they have in common.”


— Looking star Raúl Castillo, who plays Richie, asked about how he thinks the series approaches ethnic reporesentation in an interview with Out

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #gaytv #jonathangroff #looking(hbo) stories and more


  • MacSF

    Diversity…i hope the writers will include gay asian men as this city is full of them especially us pocket ones ;-)

  • Black Pegasus

    Yeah right. Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me. If Blacks and Asians are a part of the storyline, it’s to satisfy some fetish or comic relief.

  • the other Greg

    @MacSF: Patrick’s workplace friend is a gay Asian man, but yeah the show might just leave the diversity at that, which for SF would be unrealistic.

  • Mdterp01

    Has the show gotten any better? I watched the first episode, which was boring as hell, and the second episode was worse.

  • babybabybaby

    He is cute what a waste being on that boring show…`

  • MacSF

    @the other Greg: ;-) i thought on first episode that Asian friend of Patrick mentioned about his girlfriend…hmmm…

  • the other Greg

    @MacSF: I may have missed that.

  • DShucking

    I would ordinarily roll my eyes at the cries of lack of diversity on a TV show revolving around a group of friends but this is SF. Very diverse.

  • Apparatus

    @the other Greg:

    I thought his asian work buddy was straight, or did I fall asleep and miss something? Quite possible with this slooow show. lol

  • Stache1

    @babybabybaby: It’s a show for people with a bit more sophisticated mature tastes ie probably not for you.

  • SteveDenver

    What a hilarious stream of comments. MORE BITCHING from the eternal bitches.

    Will there be Asians? Yes there already is a prominent Asian and he’s STRAIGHT, because some of them are.

    I’m Polynesian and there is a big Polynesian party in SF, but I am enjoying this show just fine without any poi-pounding hula boys.

    Too bad anything on LOOKING seems to be a clarion call for all the naysayers and complainers to show up and announce how bored or dissatisfied they are.

    HBO: We’re not all petty queens who sniff at every focused offering beamed our way.

  • DShucking

    @SteveDenver: :)

  • ggreen

    WOW he is so cute in that photo. He looks so different on the show. Most of the cast looks like they are in desperate need of a bath, a shave and clean clothes. Fashions look right out of the dirty clothes hamper or are thrift store rejects. The look of the show also has a blue tinge that I have never noticed in 30 years of living in San Francisco.

  • viveutvivas

    @ggreen, only a tiny minority of gay men are New York fashionpots. Also, the scruffy look is very common among gay men.

  • the other Greg

    @ggreen: LOL, well you know, some of them live in Oakland.

  • bobbibubbi

    before you start lecturing ggreen for his accurate and astute observation of the show, look at how he mentions he’s been living in SF for 30 years. I have been there several times, spent an entire summer there one year and I don’t remember so many people looking like they need a bath either.

  • CCTR

    @bobbibubbi: “I don’t remember so many people looking like they need a bath either.”

    huh? really? SF with its hippie and “stoner” history and all of the visible people living on the sidewalks and in the parks alleyways and doorways…ok

  • CCTR

    @ggreen: try taking off the rose colored glasses and try the blue tinge ones, you’ll get it :)

  • CCTR

    The best show on TV that has all gay lead characters!

  • Respect4all

    I know this is crass, but I’d like to handle his ethnic diversity.

  • NG22

    @Black Pegasus: Are you the same Black Pegasus on Carscoops? I guess I’m not the only LGBT commenter over there. Although sometimes I really disagree with your taste in cars. ;-)

  • Mdterp01


    Oh please. I’m a petty queen because I’m bored with the show. I guess the articles I’ve seen written about how boring it is are penned by petty queen journalists as well? If you find the show entertaining then more power to you. At least I tried giving it a chance and yup…still boring.

  • NG22

    If a viewer does not know that Patrick’s Asian colleague is straight, that says all I need to know. Namely, someone is not a careful, deliberate television viewer who absorbs and appreciates subtlety. Some television/film aspires to be more than entertainment–they aspire to be artistic expressions. That’s certainly true with the EP/Director, Andrew Haigh, who is an auteur, and made the acclaimed “Weekend.” You really have to pay attention to this show if you want to ruminate on the finer details. There’s so much about these characters and their relationships that you’ll miss if you don’t read the subtext.

    Regarding those who go past, “this show isn’t for me,” and instead say, “this show is terrible,” or “HBO should cancel it,” I advise you to consider HBO’s portfolio. It is full of unconventional shows from very creative people. “Looking” didn’t sneak its way in. It wasn’t some oversight or accident for HBO to order this series. Their executives saw Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan’s previous work, they read the scripts, the writers’ bible, ordered a pilot, considered it, and ordered the whole season. HBO only greenlights shows which its executives are passionate about.

    Also consider that every single year, HBO is nominated for, and wins, more Emmys than any broadcast network, cable channel, or premium cable service. They are winners. They are favorites. They are, quite literally, iconic for their impeccable taste. To all you trolls who insist on dragging down every post mentioning the show by disparaging a program over and over and over, I’ll just let you consider that HBO chose this show, when it could have its pick of any new project seeking a home. HBO, and its executives, have better taste than you do. It is not a stretch to say they are more sophisticated than you are. No exaggeration, they are widely held as responsible for some of the greatest television series to ever be produced, anywhere in the world.

    And they chose “Looking.” So don’t watch if you don’t want to watch, but please, please piss off.

  • alanj

    HBO also has a wider market than Nth America, it’s reputation is global.

    Girls, Looking & True Detective are all being streamed within hours of Nth American broadcast to other cable networks
    who I assume are paying good money to do so. Whilst I’m not a fan of Girls I appreciate the diversity of these 3 shows and the risk HBO has taken, it’s infinitely better than the crass ‘reality’ product being churned out on other networks.

    To those of you who don’t like Looking that’s fair enough, but plenty do, so why don’t you just move on to the next Queerty story.

  • NG22

    @alanj: Indeed, HBO has made a good business of selling its programs around the world. There are many interested markets, particularly with shows like “Game of Thrones.”

  • alanj

    Over here both Looking & True Detective have been getting good reviews in the quality press.
    With our hell of a summer it’s been good to ‘hibernate’ with some decent tv.

  • AbsoluteCintron

    The show is slow-paced and brings up some interesting aspects to gay life. However, it really sheds a light on the subtle side of racism and exoticization of men of color. The sad part is this isn’t intended to prove a point. As great a character as Raul Castillo has created…he is treated as a sex object, an experiment, and in the scene where they meet on the train, Groff’s character is instantly scared. His character Patrick tries to form an emotional connection with a guy that tries to blow him in the bushes but responds weirdly to a guy chatting him up on the SF public transit. There is some “diversity” in that there are non-white actors on the show but if they are pandering to stereotypes it’s about as representative of SF’s rich and diverse culture as Girls is of NYC.

  • inbama

    Fun show and Castillo’s smile could melt what’s left of the polar icecaps.

  • Black Pegasus

    @NG22: yes I’m that guy. I’ve been visiting Carscoops for years :-)

  • Cam

    I love it when people purposely attempt to misunderstand something somebody else said.

    When somebody comment that most of the cast looks like they need a bath, and the reply is “Well not all gays are New York Fashionistas” Honestly you just sound ridiculous.

    Guess what, you can shop at K-Mart and still not look like you need a bath. The comment is on point, a much of the cast, and the way that the show is filmed makes half of them look like they smell like last weeks laundry. But if you look at the guy in charge of the show he seems to have catered it to his niche rather than trying to actually have a show go wider. The fact that the Johnathan Groff character is so 2 dimensional shows that the guy really doesn’t know how to flesh out any role outside his own experience probably explains why the show is so focused on that type.
    And normally I think people are a bit too overly sensitive about every show not having the acceptable number of diverse characters, but I’m sorry, putting a show in SF and having 2 Hispanic character, a black character, 2 white characters and NO ASIAN characters??? Come on.

  • Persa

    The show isn’t about San Francisco, it’s about this group of 3 friends. It’s one show about 3 friends. It’s not a documentary about the various and sundry gay men in San Francisco.
    The show only needs to represent the lives of these 3 characters, not the experience of every man who has ever lived in San Francisco.

    Maybe the reason these characters don’t look like you or your friends is because it’s not about you or your friends.

    Every male friend I have from San Francisco has a beard is covered in tats and generally looks pretty hipster grungy. It’s a style choice.

    I get that the characters may not represent you or your experience or even what you want to see on television but that doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic and not representative of the type of gay men it’s talking about.

    It’s one show. Maybe there needs to be another show about the gay Asian population in San Francisco.

    But I thin artificially inserting a rainbow of characters into the lives of 3 characters just to prove you know they exist is pandering.

    This reminds me of when they added a Black female actress to Friends who was a scientist and dating Ross and people screamed about the lack of diversity and how Charlie wasn’t “representative” of the Black female population in NYC.

    As if the white characters on the show were in any way representative of the average white person living in NYC?

    I’m sure, if given time, Looking could incorporate Asian gay men into the cast but I don’t think they should do so unless it fits the storyline. It should be organic not some big deal “LOOK WE HAVE AN ASIAN GUY NOW” type of thing.

    Sometimes it just feels like gay folks’ expectations of any one show are so huge and all encompassing that the show can’t just breathe and do what it wants.

    Why does any one show have to represent everything that everybody in the gay community wants to see?

    Looking isn’t the only show on tv with gay characters in it. It seems to me that there are enough gay male characters on various television shows that there should be something for everyone but all the focus is strangely on Looking and what it’s “not” instead of just letting it tell the story it is telling.

    Strangely the gay men who love Girls don’t seem to have a problem with how homogenous it is in the experience it portrays and the race/ethnicity of its characters.

  • Cam


    From what I see of the comments, the expectation wasn’t that the show should be all things to all people. It was that it wasn’t doing a great job of even showing what it was trying to show.

    1. A group of friends in SF that include a 2 dimensional naive childlike white man…who ooops just happens to have been out, living in SF, and friends with his jaded friends for a decade and yet is still depicted as if he was a 17 year old from a small town in Iowa on his first trip in to the big city. Oh, and add in that he works in the video game industry but seems to have no Asian friends.

    2. The “Open Couple” that go on and on about how much more evolved they are as if they are burned out college professors who have discovered something new.

    3. The Black boyfriend, although the couple seems to be dating that character never seems to be included outside of the occasional conversation back at the apt.

    But the issue is, none of these things would be an issue if the show hadn’t made the critical error. Frankly, it’s boring, and not well written. I’m continuing to watch because it’s a gay show, but for sh*ts sake a plot about an “Artist” wanting to hire a hustler and couching it as if it’s an art project? A ten year SF resident acting like a child who has never been on a date? Come on people, an actual plot would be nice.

  • MacSF

    I don’t know if some of you had read earlier articles online about how the creators and people behind the show told us that the show would tell the “real” gay scenes, sex and atmosphere in the backdrop of San Francisco. Hence our reactions and comments and yes, criticisms. personal or technical.

    Yes, the show only shows a certain demographic of gay guys in San Francisco. It’s not about me and my friends as you put it pleasantly. However, don’t tell people it’s that diverse and well representing the community. You are right, it should be organic and smoothly incorporated.

    Someone said Weekend is very acclaimed from director/writer Andrew Haigh. Acclaimed among certain demographics. Haigh brings his style to this show hence a slow paced yet profound screenplay.

    And again, yes we watch it because it is set in our neighborhood of Castro in SF and the only gay themed TV series thus far and we have to support it.

    If they want to be realistic the writers need to consult or at least live in San Francisco. One article mentioned that in the Folsom St Fair episode, buying leather outfit in a huge leather store is expensive and considering the financial capabilities of the characters except maybe for the game programmer guy patrick, that seemed unrealistic.

    Definitely ‘Looking’ forward to more episodes and i am pretty and sure that it will be better.

  • misterhollywood

    What a fun post and a nice looking guy!

    Mister Hollywood

  • Vegas Tearoom

    Episode 5 was AMAZING. Episode 5 is a full length dialogue. It was beautiful, sexy and sincere.

  • the other Greg

    @NG22: Sorry, I’m used to being stoned on Sunday nights. I promise to watch “Looking” later in the week with the “On Demand” feature, and TAKE NOTES!

    I’ll watch episode 5 tonight.

    @Cam: YES. There’s a lot that bugs me about this show and you nailed it. Especially Patrick. His character doesn’t make any sense. His rac*al attitudes would have been peculiar and old-fashioned if he had lived in 1970s SF with Armistead Maupin’s gang. And why is he so sexually naive? I don’t get it.

  • the other Greg

    And… ugh… even if you do have peculiar and old-fashioned rac*al attitudes, at the age of 29 (?) or so, please do NOT express those peculiar and old-fashioned rac*al attitudes, verbally, with a person of another race WHILE HAVING SEX WITH THAT PERSON!!!


  • kitntonic

    @the other Greg: Sorry to burst your bubble Greg, but have you hung out with a group of twentysomething middle class suburban white boys who grew up in the suburbs recently? You’ll find Patrick’s attitude is really not far off… In fact, he reminds me of some of my friends. Are you suggesting his character is unrealistic or just annoying? I would definitely agree with the latter, but not the former.

    I say this myself as a somewhat privileged middle class white boy from Connecticut who since graduating high school has lived in two major cities, but even talking about this show with my group of ‘cultured’ New York gay friends (who have similar backgrounds – mostly from New England/the South, attended prestigious schools, lived in small cities before coming to NYC), when I expressed an interest in Richie’s character (I think he’s adorable looks-wise and personality) some of my friends replied, “Really? I am not into Latin guys at all. That’s just ew.”

    With the new age of online apps and sites like OKCupid, etc. people (particularly twentysomething white boys) really are this blatant, sadly. My friend group is comprised mostly of white boys (not by any active choice), and it isn’t uncommon for me to hear things like “Ugh why is this Asian guy still talking to me?” or “Why do only black guys message me on Grindr?!” And although that may seem bad, there are people who I’ve met that are willing to actually go to the extreme of “No Asians. No femmes. No fats.” etc. in their profiles OR some guys who even say it in bars/clubs.

    This all to say that I really don’t think Patrick’s response to Richie was peculiar. It wouldn’t have bene my reaction, but I can easily see some of the people I associate myself with having that reaction Patrick did to Richie. EASILY. So yes, I agree that Patrick is incredibly frustrating and he pisses me off like no other, but I’m here to say his character is actually quite representative of a certain archetype in the gay community.

  • Mdterp01

    @kitntonic: You are so completely spot on. I grew up on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia. As a man of color (I’m half Black, half Puerto Rican), the friends I grew up with were predominantly white and upper middle to upper class. The gay white friends I grew up with who I am still friends/acquaintances with some very closed minded and ignorant minds. Some have even said stupid stuff to me like “I like you because you’re not like most Black guys”. Yeah…they were downgraded from friend to acquaintance status because I don’t have time for that kind of ignorance. I’m very glad my parents kept me in touch with my culture and made sure I traveled and immersed myself with diverse groups, and didn’t allow me to become one of those white washed men of color. But yeah I know some guys who are kind of in a bubble the way Patrick seems to be. Sometimes its unintentional and is the result of ignorance, but some of it is just pure racism and closed mindedness.

    I’ve been able to straddle the line between the Black and Latino and White gay communities. Because I’m like “the other” in terms of not really fitting into one world I am comfortable mingling in both settings. Ignorant comments are not exclusive to white guys though. I have had Black friends say some ignorant as hell things about white and asian guys. However, the level of ignorance I tend to find from white guys is like no other. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that white guys are the group least likely to date outside their race. The generalizations many of them make are horrible. Its one thing to have a preference, but its totally another to completely exclude an entire group of people. For instance, I have a preference for Black and Latino men, but I am down with the swirl and dated white guys in the past. Cute is cute and smart is smart so I would never say I wouldn’t date a white guy. As for the no fats thing…men are very visual. Yes that sounds very callous but I live a healthy lifestyle and work out regularly and so does my boyfriend. I like to be with and have sex with someone I am physically attracted to. You don’t have to be six packed out with bulging muscles. I find average bodies very sexy as long as you are height/weight proportionate, but I just am not into overweight guys. If that makes me shallow than so be it. I think there’s a way to say you are not into it without coming off as mean though. Again, we all have preferences.

  • Alan down in Florida

    I’m amazed that no one has mentioned that last night’s 2 man episode was really almost a gay version of Before Sunrise. That said I found it almost groundbreaking in its discussion of bottom shame and Patrick’s admission that he doesn’t particularly like receptive anal sex.

    Patrick is meant to be the anti-stereotype. With only one boyfriend to date he is meant to counter the idea that gay men will f**k anyone and anything and don’t care about getting to know someone or actually fall in love with another man.

    And just like on Qweerty he will not get the support of his friends, one of whom will accuse him of slumming.

  • Cam

    @Alan down in Florida: said…

    “Patrick is meant to be the anti-stereotype. With only one boyfriend to date he is meant to counter the idea that gay men will f**k anyone and anything and don’t care about getting to know someone or actually fall in love with another man.


    He has only had one boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean what you seem to think. It seemed to be presented that he couldn’t commit, and was sleeping around. So he seems to not be the “Virgin” character.

  • the other Greg

    @kitntonic: “Sorry to burst your bubble Greg, but have you hung out with a group of twentysomething middle class suburban white boys who grew up in the suburbs recently?”

    Not recently, or ever. But thanks – your post was so nauseating (unintentionally I hope) that for once I’m actually glad I grew up poor.

    And you’ve explained why I can’t figure out Patrick!

    @Alan down in Florida: But that’s such an interesting way of “looking” at it that I’ll keep watching for a few weeks anyway.

  • the other Greg

    @Cam: He’s hardly a slut, considering his age, but there are times I get the impression the show is written to impress heterosexuals.

  • ncman

    @Mdterp01: you were doing fine with your comment until the end. Then, suddenly, everything you said shouldn’t be done based on race, was fine with you as long as it was based on weight.

  • Mdterp01

    You are absolutely right. It does seem hypocritical but I look at weight differently than I look at race, religion, ethnicity, etc. I am also talking obese as opposed to a little gut. But yes you are right. It is a flaw I am not proud of but am honest about.

  • ncman

    @Mdterp01: It doesn’t “seem” hypocritical, it “IS” hypocritical.

    If you allow yourself this statement:

    ” I like to be with and have sex with someone I am physically attracted to.”

    Then, you must also allow anyone else that same statement based on whatever characteristics they choose to apply it to.

    Remember, we are discussing who we want to have sex with here, not who we think we should interact with in social situations or who we should be able to discriminate against in public accommodations. No one should be able to tell anyone who they MUST be willing to consider for sexual encounters.

  • Cam

    @the other Greg:

    Greg, I think you are right, and that might be why that character doesn’t seem fully realized. Maybe the writers don’t really know him and are just sticking him in.

    I did like this weeks episode better so that was nice to see. :)

  • Mdterp01


    Thats true ncman. I even said that we all have preferences. We are attracted to who we are attracted to. But things like race, ethnicity, religion are not physical characteristics and not something a person can change. There’s so much diversity within each race I just find it odd that someone would say “I would never date or have sex with anyone from such and such race” A person has relative control over their weight and therefore thats why I think its different. Obese is obese regardless of any background. Maybe you think that is a whack explanation, but thats how I see it, and if you think its still hypocritical than I can see the argument for it. Your points are valid.

    In addition, for me it also has to do with an overall mentality of a healthy lifestyle. I’m very active and love to engage in many outdoor activities (i.e. hiking, swimming, sailing, rock climbing, running, tennis, bicycling) and one of the things that attracted me to the boyfriend I have now is that he believes in those same things and follows a healthy lifestyle.

  • viveutvivas

    @kitntonic, I don’t dispute that those people are common, but I don’t understand why you would associate yourself with people like that.

  • babybabybaby

    Raul is HOT But that show is about as exciting as watching paint dry….

Comments are closed.