A Queer Notion

Category: Looking reviews

Looking: Hell is other people’s weddings

Looking S1 Ep7

I was struck watching this week’s excellent episode of Looking how many queer people, especially those I’m close with, experience complete consonance going about their wildly differing day-to-day activities.

Imagine that, a TV show where people do different things every episode… really groundbreaking stuff. But what I mean is our protagonist Patrick goes from awkward date, to video game developer, to leather-clad partier, to resentful son. I think as a queer person I just find this all the more poignant, since I often feel like a different part of my wonderfully weird personality is in play every other hour.

Journalist… boyfriend… gay drag queen nun… skeptic… angry queer… gamer… writer… student… resentful son…

I could go on.

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Looking: Lordy, lordy

Looking Episode 6

For this week’s Looking review I’m filling in for Daily Xtra‘s regular reviewer, so head on over to my review on their website!

Looking: Gays in the daylight

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.

Looking S1E5

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.

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Looking: Jonathan Groff in leather

Queer As Folk pronounced part way through the first season that gay men might as well be dead when they turn 30. I remember at the time thinking, “Shit, I’m almost 20. I’ve only got a good 10 years to get in lots of sex and lots of relationships and lots of partying.”

Of course, life went on for Brian Kinney, and life’ll go on for me even when I turn 30, as it will for every other queer guy despite any anxieties about aging. Hopefully we can all move on. (Disclosure: I never watched beyond season one of QAF due to complete lack of interest.)

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This week Patrick and boss Kevin are trying to get a demo ready for a presentation the next day as the Folsom Street Fair rages on outside the office.

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Looking: Naval Destroyer

Just when I thought I was going to get some work done today, next week’s episode of Looking was released early.

In this exciting new episode we explore Patrick’s career as a video game level designer! It’s quite sad how truly excited I am for this episode. The “gay guy video game developer” premise was what made me sure I would give the series a try. This episode starts at a wrap party for the video game Naval Destroyer, which Patrick’s studio has been working on.

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“They keep telling us to expand our demographic, and then they force us to make a game where you can’t even play as a female,” Patrick says. “And I’m a guy, and I always play as a female, and before you say it, it’s not because I’m gay.”

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Looking: Thank you for being a friend

Perhaps I’m making this judgment early, but I think my dream of what Looking could be is coming true. I think the show has something new to say, while striking a balance between wry, sarcastic, signature gay-humour and dark, quiet moments.

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Certainly I’m not the first person to jump to conclusions prematurely. An artist who I really admire posted on Facebook asking if the first episode of Looking was worth a watch, and he received dozens of comments calling the show, in various iterations, garbage, usually preceded or followed by, “I haven’t even seen the show yet, but…” A decent metaphor for the gay community: making assumptions and judgments based on surface appearance. I’m not saying people can’t disagree with me on the numerous things I really like about the show. What I find maddening is when people don’t even give something a chance. I mean, come on… I watched almost a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race before deciding that it’s cons outweighed it’s pros.

But I digress. Episode two: Looking.

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Looking: quietly subverting stereotypical gay narrative?

For starters, I actually liked the first episode of Looking. I was prepared to hate it, since the little media I saw reviewing the show painted it as dismally gay-retrograde, but the first episode was surprisingly sophisticated, especially for television.

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Then again, I think the character of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) was written for queer guys like me; cynical, slightly condescending, awkward, maybe shy, sensitive, though with an adopted thick skin. There was one scene where Patrick was walking down the San Francisco street, on his way to a date. He stops to fix his hair in a window, and then goes on his way, and has this small, distracted scowl. That was such a wonderful moment.

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