Looking is a fresh, contemporary comedy-drama series that has been produced by HBO, a company famous for its success stories. The UK broadcasting of the show, courtesy of Sky Atlantic, was a week later than its initial premier in the US. The first series of the promising programme is predominantly directed by Andrew Haigh and consists of eight episodes.
The first episode begins by precipitously hurling the audience into the whirling sphere of a gay man’s life and awkward sexual complications that occur as a result. Not only does one of the main protagonists, Patrick (portrayed by Jonathan Groff, the voice of Kristoff in Frozen), begin to kiss but get rejected by his hook-up who seems too focused on the lustful sexualisation of the act to bother with any kind of romanticisation, but Patrick’s phone also rings during the socially-uncomfortable encounter. Patrick uses this as an excuse to make his escape and meets with best friends and fellow Looking protagonists, Agustín and Dom, to give vent to the floundering business of the dating and sexual endeavours that a gay man suffers from in San Francisco. The episode then follows the characters at work, attending an ex’s bachelor party and the inception of a threesome. Not a show for the sexually faint-hearted.
The episode and series focuses on the central characters, all in different places in life. Whilst Patrick is eagerly searching for love with assistance from his beloved dating website, Agustín is in talks of moving in with his boyfriend. Dom, however, is in potential pursuit of his ex due to the strain of moving on becoming too laborious. This is despite the adamance of his friend Doris (portrayed by Lauren Weedman who proves hilarious through her Kristen Wiig-esque demeanour) who is determined that he is synonymous with a psycho. These intertwined plots come together to form a well-executed, entertaining comedy-drama.
What particularly innovates Looking from other current and past comedy-dramas is its realism and cultural actuality. This critical trait to the show is created at the very core: the cinematography. At many points, the camera is placed behind props or people. Whether the lens is slightly concealed by twigs or the show’s extras walking past, the audience is almost peeking in to the spontaneous and naturally-articulated lives of the three men. This realism is supported by the effortless and fluent acting, as well as the setting being an average and relatable place. The crafting and writing of the show is also crucial to its relatability. For instance, at one point, Patrick is checking himself in the reflective glass surface of a restaurant exterior, only to discover an older man is the other side, facing him directly whilst eating his meal. It is these socially-awkward situations that are illuminated by the writers of Looking that make it so appropriate to today’s audience.
Gay men being the cynosure of Looking is enlightening and imperative in representing growing social development. The show’s target audience is far from exclusively being for the homosexual community, but is intelligently constructed in displaying the issues – particularly those related to romantic ventures – of gay men to be analogous with that of a straight person, an older person, a black person or any kind of person and therefore appealing to a wide demographic who can certainly relate to many problems that the characters suffer within the comedy drama that are within us all, regardless of sexual orientation.
Looking is original and candid, with slight reminiscence of HBO’s Girls. It tackles romantically-light issues within society as a whole and should be watched as a pleasant escape but with a unique ability to delve in further if wished.
8/10: An enjoyable and promising HBO series.
Looking is broadcast on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 10.35pm.