‘Looking’: HBO’s trendy take on gay culture

By Katie Olson

I heard about HBO’s new series, Looking, through a friend who told me that “it’s supposed to be like the gay version of Girls.”

As a devout member of the Girls audience, I was eager to watch the pilot but also hesitant, worrying that the aesthetic wouldn’t transfer well from one show to the other.

The show is the brainchild of director Andrew Haigh and writer Michael Lannan. The first episode chronicles a group of young twenty-something gay friends and their adventures and experiences in San Francisco. Patrick (Jonathan Groff) resorts to OkCupid to find a new live-in boyfriend, while Augustín (Frankie Alvarez) and Frank (O.T. Fagbenle) have a threesome with an intern in an art studio. Dom (Murray Bartlett) deals with the perils of “not being able to fuck who he wants” because he’s growing older in the midst of the young, hip, gay culture of the city.


Augustín (Alvarez), Dom (Bartlett), and Patrick (Groff) in a scene from the premiere of ‘Looking’ on HBO.

I was afraid that it was going to be one of those shows where somehow all the characters are linked together through the “six degrees of separation” theory. But I was pleasantly surprised with the first episode. Patrick seems to be the most relatable character: meeting hook-ups in the park out of desperation, seeking out doctors on dating sites as prospects for significant others, and being overwhelmed by the general maintenance of life.

Patrick (Groff) and Dom (Bartlett)

The role that social media plays in the show paints a picture that is all too real in today’s modern culture. Patrick complains to Augustín that “Instagram filters have ruined everything” because he can’t tell if someone’s attractive in online photos or not. Looking professes that, while we may have all of these services for relationships available to us, finding love isn’t any easier.

Before I watched the episode, friends had voiced their opinions, saying they were hoping that the show wouldn’t come across as “gross” or “vulgar.” HBO has it’s stigmas, but Looking is a very modern and trendy take on gay culture. Nothing about it is flamboyant or flashy, it all seems very real. The director, Andrew Haigh, describes the characters as “vulnerable” and “intimate”, and he couldn’t be more correct.

See for yourself:
You can watch the first episode on YouTube, and from there you can find the show on HBO every Sunday night at 10:30pm.

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