Looking is a vibrant and lively entry into HBO’s Sunday night lineup that already has four deep and interesting characters after only one episode.
Following a trio of friends in San Francisco, Looking focuses on these gay men’s dating life, or lack there of, in a way that feels honest, but it is their relationship with one another that will drive the show forward. Patrick is a video game designer that seems to still be a little bit uncomfortable in his skin as an out gay man who has been tearing his way through the online dating world. Agustín is the only one of the trio in a relationship, and he seems ready to take the next step with his boyfriend as he agrees to move in with him. Dom is a little bit older than the other two and he seems to long for a relationship in his past as he can’t seem himself succeeding like he used to going forward.
The series premiere throws us right into the mix with these guys, but there is a surprising amount of character development for how quickly this thing moves. All three of the aforementioned men are extremely likable and it was very easy to settle in with them as they navigate San Francisco over a couple of days. You can easily buy into the friendship of these guys, how much they care about each other and you will be invested in their future as well by the time the credits roll.
Dom is the standout of the group for me, maybe it’s because he is the funniest of the three, but his situation of being a bit of a lost soul is the most interesting story of the three. I guy who has been able to get whoever he wanted in the past starting to come up dry should be great for some comedy on the show, but the fact that he is entertaining getting back together with an abusive boyfriend gives him a dark wrinkle that is just as compelling.
Agustín’s story seems bound for tragedy sooner rather than later as him moving to Oakland seems to defeat the purpose of having a show set in and around San Francisco. Oakland is only a couple of miles from San Francisco as the crow flies, but anyone that lives near that area knows it often feels like living much further away with the amount of effort it can take to get across that bay. Agustín’s boyfriend, Frank, seems like a really sweet and compelling guy, one that I would be happy to see stick around as a part of these guy’s lives, but an impromptu threesome between the couple and a young artist opens a door that could lead to their downfall. After, Frank seems to feel a bit off about the whole thing and Agustín brushing off the incident as being much of anything doesn’t seem to bode well for their future.
It’s never revealed how long Patrick has been openly out, but there is something off about him and his ability to date other men. It’s not that he is uncomfortable being gay, getting a hand job from a random bear in the park could shake any man, I imagine, but he doesn’t feel comfortable about his dating life. The constant referencing of his mother’s guilt doesn’t make you feel that he is any more sure of himself either and his blown date with an online set up doesn’t instill much confidence for anyone. Still, I like where he ends in the episode, branching out from this predetermined mold of a man that he has to meet, and I am hopeful that Patrick won’t just be an awkward date, after awkward date going forward.
A promising start for Looking in its premiere, it does a great job of setting up the gay scene of San Francisco all while establishing a strong set of characters that we can immediately like and want to get to know better. I’ll be tuning in every Sunday and you should be too. Looking has a chance at becoming one of the strongest half hour shows on television.