10 Reasons To Love ‘Looking’

The HBO show ‘Looking’ has received a mixed response since it first aired. At times, it’s been compared unfavourably to the seminal series ‘Queer as Folk’.

Many commentators have criticised ‘Looking’ for not being as fast paced and action packed (re – sex filled) as ‘QAF’ was. But that’s really not fair. ‘Looking’ has never tried to be like any other show before it. It should be judged on its own merits, of which I believe, it has quite a few.

Here are 10 reasons to love ‘Looking’:

1. It’s not QAF, Sex and the City, Girls or any other show it’s been compared to

And that’s a good thing. Any TV show deserves to be judged on it’s own merits, and not in light of comparisons to other TV shows. Especially TV shows from another time, which may be remembered more fondly through the prism of a general nostalgia for say, all things 90s. (It has after all, been scientifically proven that the 90s were the best decade for pop culture ever, but that’s for another time).

‘Looking’ isn’t trying to copy any other TV show. The show’s creators could have easily tried to copy a formula that had worked previously, and given it a 21st century ‘update’ (code for basically taking what was once a genuinely original and successful hit and reducing it to formulaic, easily marketable dribble for mass consumption). To their credit, they didn’t. Because they haven’t, despite what you may think of ‘Looking’, it at least deserves credit for being original. Let’s face it, that in itself is pretty rare these days (right, little Monsters?)

2 – It’s a slow burn

At a time when our attention spans can only stretch out as far as our Twitter or Facebook news feeds, everything seems to be getting louder. In order to cut-through, shock, scare and sex seem to be the tactics that we’re being fed. While this may initially work to get our attention, what happens when that desperately sought after attention has been received? OK, we’re looking at you – now what have you got to say?

‘Looking’ doesn’t play into this way of thinking. It’s not brash, loud or overtly sexual. Scenes and storylines aren’t action packed. They’re not screaming for your attention. Instead, ‘Looking’ gently invites you to come in to its world. Should you decide to, what you’ll find is something of substance and meaning. What on the surface may appear as a distinct lack of action, is actually a case study in personality, relationship dynamics and general ‘life’ stuff’, that we can all relate to in some way.

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3 – Everyone’s crushing on….

Take your pick really. But there’s a very high probability that you’re crushing on at least one of the characters. For me, it’s Russell Tovey (that accent!) But all three of the main characters (Patrick, Dom and Augustine) have physically appealing characteristics. The supportive cast is equally impressive. One of the great things about these guys is that they’re not your typical gay eye candy, yet they’re all attractive in their own ways.

4 – San Francisco

I wonder if the San Francisco tourist board sponsors the show. Because the way San Fan is portrayed makes me want to go to there so freakin’ badly. Maybe it’s the Instagram-esque filters, but San Fran really sparkles. It may not be essential to the show in the same way that New York was to ‘Sex and the City’, but it does make its presence felt. Whether it’s the gang heading out to the Folsom Street Fair (San Fran’s annual street festival celebrating all things kink and leather), or Patric’s Silicon Valley-like office space/work, San Fran’s presence is a great background addition.

5 – The music

Why oh why have they not (yet) released a soundtrack to ‘Looking’? It’s criminal. The music in every single episode, without fail, is pure magic. It not only sounds great on its own, but it fits in perfectly into whatever scene it’s being used in. The music people deserve some major props.

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6 – Diversity

While you can never please anyone, and yes admittedly, there are no L,B,T or I characters on the show, in terms of male gay representation, the show does a great job. ‘Looking’ might not be trying to represent every letter in our alphabet family. The one it does represent though, it represents in a real, refreshing and realistic way.

7 – An older perspective

Following on from the previous point, as a gay guy in his mid-30s, I’m enjoying seeing a show with characters my age and older. It’s kind of an under represented demographic if you think about it. When was the last time a 40+ guy was featured on the cover of any gay magazine? So many spaces within LGBT media are the exclusive domain of only the young and the beautiful. This is to the detriment of all of us. We don’t get a chance to see the many other sides of gay life. ‘Looking’ remedies that and it’s really nice to see.

8 – Doris does good

The almost obligatory ‘fag hag’ character would have to be Doris. While this character could have easily been relegated to the occasional light comic relief, or eye rolling stereotype, it’s being played (and written) in a way that makes it so much more. There’s a depth and a realness to Doris, especially in relation to her friendship with Dom, that adds not only much needed light and humour, but also poignancy and reflection.

9 – It sucks you in

Maybe not straight away, but it does. Within the space of a few short episodes, it feels like you’re sucked into a world not of TV characters, but of good friends. The situations are realistic and the characters are relatable.

10 – There’s nothing else like it on TV

It’s paradoxical. While there are more LGBT characters on TV these days than ever before, there actually aren’t that many TV shows aimed towards us. While supporting a show because it’s the only one we’ve got, isn’t the right reason to support ‘Looking’, the implications of not supporting it, may be. If we don’t send a clear message to TV executives that we’ll support (re – watch) LGBT-themed programming, what chance do we have of getting more LGBT-themed programming in the future?


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