Looking: Gays in the daylight
by MJ Lyons
I am often confounded by the startling, stranger-than-fiction symmetry of so called “real life.” A short, hypothetically romantic vacation this past weekend with my boyfriend at an adorable Montreal bed & breakfast in the heart of the gay village turned into an extended reality check. After a stopover in Kingston, ON, darling boyfriend began to feel nauseas, and what we hoped was just carsickness turned out to be a mildly debilitating stomach flu. We navigated that as best we could, and he started feeling better Sunday, the afternoon we were to catch a bus back to Toronto. I started feeling waves of nausea, and a terrible headache welled up… after a stopover in Kingston, ON. I managed to make it home for another quick stopover, before continuing on to the hospital early that morning to be treated for a fairly debilitating stomach flu. Hilariously, I registered in my dehydrated delirium that two out of the three nurses that treated me were sassy and undeniably gay.
Long story short, I’m late with my Looking review this week because of ugly, unfabulous, tragicomic reality. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
So what is the magic equation for these episodes? After a quick dig through IMDB I learned my statement that last week’s episode “Looking for $220/Hour” (which I found to be one of the weakest-written episodes) was actually written by Allan Heinberg, not strictly creator/producer Michael Lannan. In any case, “Looking for the Future,” written by creator Andrew Haigh, is certainly the strongest written thus far.
Patrick wakes up at Richie’s place for something like the eighth sexy sleepover between them, and after a morning of oral pleasure Patrick opts to skip work for an afternoon of oral anecdotes with Richie as they get to know one another.
(ASIDE: Maybe I have poor esteem for the television narrative, but I was waiting for someone from Patrick’s workplace to just-so-happen-to spot Patrick out enjoying himself after calling in sick or something, leading to future workplace melodrama for our intrepid video game developer, but luckily the episode doesn’t go in for those kinds of tired plot devices.)
Again, this kind of tight, wonderful, insular dialogue is carried totally by the two actors and the writing. Almost no other characters factor in to this episode. We learn probably more about these two characters in one episode than probably the whole series thus far, but it feels very natural and engaging. They deliberate on sex, parents, coming out, relationships, insecurities…
Patrick: I love that, I love ex-fatties, I feel like they’re always nicer people.
As a former fatty, I can relate.
A quick sidenote, since I started blogging about the show several people have approached me about whether Looking is a show decent enough to be worth checking out, and often the same argument is brought up against it by the racial-dynamics conscious: a show about gay guys is invariably going to be about whiteness. As I’ve prefaced before, I’m white, and I’m certainly not claiming Looking is the new bastion of racial sensitivity and representational equity, but hell, a show where the first season’s main love interest (Richie) is Mexican (and further this is explored without feeling exploitative), and also one of the other three main characters (Agustín) is also a person of colour (as is his boyfriend), is doing much better than most of the other shows I’ve seen.
And my final piece of advice to those who ask me is always, give the show a chance, you may be surprised, as I was with this past episode. Maybe people aren’t looking for something real with a television show, but that’s something that I am continually surprised at finding with this one.