Five years ago this weekend, HBO premiered LOOKING, it’s pioneering dramedy about a group of 30-something friend making their way through the exciting, and sometimes challenging, options available to contemporary gay men living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The year was 2014, and the fight for marriage equality was quickly gaining momentum in the courts. The LGBTQ community was making progress in social and legal arenas, often on a near-daily basis.
The series explored that progress of acceptance through its three leads, as they searched to find their place in a world with ever-shifting ground.
Modern love, professional fulfillment, intimacy, happiness and an appreciation for self-awareness were the goals for ‘Patrick’ (Jonathan Groff), ‘Agustin’ (Frankie J. Alvarez), and ‘Dom’ (Murray Bartlett).
At the time, many in the LGBTQ community complained and criticized the show, unfairly in my opinion.
I saw the series as thoughtful, smart and honest.
I was especially drawn to Jonathan Groff’s ‘Patrick’ for often overthinking his straightjacketed emotions.
And the season 2 addition of Daniel Franzese as lovable bear ‘Eddie,’ who has no time for self-doubt, was refreshing.
The series also utilized current pop music in clever, subliminal ways.
The first episode of season 2 ended with our heroes searching for, and finally, attending a dance party in the woods, grooving along to the strains of Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind.” (Looking/Blind – lost in the forest – get it?)
Check out the promo videos from the two seasons of LOOKING below. You can find the entire series now on HBO NOW.
The ever-charming and talented Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, Hamilton, GLEE, HBO’s Looking) recently sat down with Kevin Sessums for the Curran Theater’s “Groundbreakers with Kevin Sessums” series to talk on a range of subjects.
On sex scenes in LOOKING:
“One of the cool things about ‘Looking’ is that after the first season, a lot of people – shockingly, liberal, open artists in New York and L.A. – said they didn’t know that gay people could have sex while facing each other. The show illuminated intimacy in sex [between men] without being porny or salacious. Those scenes felt very real and true to life. I was excited to do them.”
On coming out:
”When I came out, I had come to terms with it, but I wasn’t thrilled. If I could snap my fingers or meet some girl who made me feel I wasn’t gay, that would be awesome. I didn’t feel proud. I told my mom, ‘I’m gay, but I’m not gonna lead a parade.’
“And then last year, I was asked to be one of the grand marshals of the Gay Pride parade in New York. I said, okay, sure. But when I got to the parade, I was so moved and blown away by the importance and the power of expressing yourself, by all the joyfulness and celebration. I’m really proud to be gay.”
You can watch a few excerpts of the immensely charming Groff below, and find the entire interview here.
Jonathan Groff recently spoke to People.com about the cancellation of HBO’s LOOKING:
“We wanted to create a show with gay men where they weren’t tragic figures or the comedic relief or sexually sensationalized but just multi-dimensional human beings,” says Groff. “So, I feel sad that it was canceled but grateful for the time that we had.”
“I think that speaks to just the need and desire for more gay stories to be told. Hopefully it maybe paved the way for other people to create [more] gay stories. Hopefully someday there won’t be just one gay show on the air but multiple shows.”
“I remember being a kid and feeling like when somebody mentioned in a moment that they were gay or [saw someone gay] on TV, it was like an exciting sense of relief to see someone talk about being gay, so I try to do that as often as I can,” he says.
“It sort of goes back to that Harvey Milk thing of, ‘Tell your friends, tell everyone,’ ” he says. “I always try to wear that on my sleeve.”
Regular readers of The Randy Report know I am a big fan of the show. It didn’t hit you over the head; it had many subtle moments that felt real to me.
I look forward to the “finale” movie promised by HBO.
Cast member Frankie Alvarez (“Agustin”) spoke to Vulture about the end (darn it!) of the HBO series LOOKING and what comes next.
On the series cancellation: “You know, it was sad. We all got together, we had dinner. We kind of poured liquor out for our gay homies. It was a bummer.”
On the upcoming finale movie: “It’s a feature-length film that doesn’t adhere to an episodic structure,” said Alvarez. “So I think a lot of fans who wanted a longer episode are going to get one long, two-hour episode. I think that will be a blessing in a lot of ways. We’ll get to close it out the way everyone wants to close it out, and then, hopefully, we’ll continue to be friends supporting each other in future projects.”
Although no story details about the movie have been released, Alvarez he says the creative team is looking at a September shoot so, “the writers have the whole summer to really make it the best possible thing.”
With the season 2 finale having aired, rumors are now swirling that HBO will cancel it’s gay-centric show LOOKING.
Kevin Sessums, editor of Four Two Nine magazine posted on his Facebook page yesterday:
I had an email from my friend Jonathan Groff when I got home from my reading tonight at Books Inc. telling me that HBO announced today that it was canceling Looking but that it would film a movie of the series to air in order to wrap things up instead of leaving things hanging. This makes me sad but life – and television series – are about moving on at some point.
“After two years of following Patrick and his tight-knit group of friends as they explored San Francisco in search of love and lasting relationships, HBO will present the final chapter of their journey as a special,” the network said in a statement Wednesday. “We look forward to sharing this adventure with the shows loyal fans.”
Darn it. I liked the show muchly. Apparently there will definitely be a “special” to tie up the story lines.