Looking – Episode Two – Review

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Looking’s second episode was just as good as the first. It continued with the ‘real-world drama’ vibe; though I hesitate to use the word ‘drama’ as it perhaps suggests a certain amount of pandering to the audience, while adding dashes of humor and just a touch of music. The soundtrack is understated, chilled but with a bohemian upbeat vibe, which compliments the fleeting moments between the main scenes that show San Francisco.

This week maintains the discussion of race, though focuses more on stereotypes and dating in a semi-casual manner. The series as a whole feels like chapters of a book, extracts of a larger story, meaning that it flows without forcing you along under the pretense of pace for dramatic effect. The story can be surprising and interesting but you don’t have resolution at the end of every episode for all the characters like in many other shows.

Jonathan Groff’s innate adorableness and goofy charm; despite being so damn handsome, helps to convey Patrick’s naïveté. He is a somewhat cautious man who doesn’t jump into bed with someone at the first opportunity but wishes to be more adventurous and free spirited. He’s tentative but willing to try new things. With Agustín moving out and into his new basement flat with Frank, Patrick is left living alone for the first time in years. He starts moving the furniture around in a simplistic display of his uncertainty about life alone. It’s a surreal experience when you stop living with someone you have become so used to and that’s shown here in this quiet moment.

Having successfully found Richie; at the end of the last episode, their relationship progresses with a date. They awkwardly greet each other with a handshake and eager grins, however, it all spirals as Patrick’s desperation and nerves turns him into a big cringey mess. Sadly, I recognized some of my own faults when it comes to these situations. Under the peer pressure from Dom and Agustín, concerning the possibility of a Latin uncut penis making an appearance, Patrick makes mistake number one and Googles ‘uncut Latin cock’. Sigh.

As Patrick himself comments, he might have come off as a bit racist. But is he really? Not in the most detrimental way, no, but his confused ignorance means that he tries to overcompensate for his insecurities with unsubtle flirting, drinking too much and blunt honesty. With an ‘oh’, not the good kind, his attempts to fornicate are cut short and Richie excuses himself, citing that they must be looking for different things. Apparently, he’s more Catholic than Patrick first thought. Richie is as sweet and friendly as he was in their first meeting but he is much more certain of himself than Patrick is. I hope its not over for them yet.

Meanwhile, Agustín and Frank spend an evening in watching drag queens. I noticed that Frank is a bit more camp at home than he was in the outside world last episode, perhaps this is down to how much screen time he has, but it could equally be a sign of how he wants to be viewed by the world vs how he doesn’t act for Agustín. Speaking of Agustín, he comes across as both confident and self assured, which gives him the impression of being rude and uncaring. He barely listens to Frank most of the time and his ideas of going out on the day that he moves in; added to the suggested resistance to the idea in the first episode, make it seem as if they aren’t quite on the same place in their relationship. His blasé attitude to having an open relationship that neither of them seem to have discussed is a viewpoint that many people (of a variety of sexual orientations) have nowadays.

Indeed, Patrick seems to be the only character in Looking who craves monogamy; even Dom seems to be of the opinion that ‘‘guys are guys’’, meaning that being faithful simply isn’t in their nature. The range of views explored by Looking‘s main characters are reflective of those prevalent in modern society, with many more than ever before; I believe, thinking that a functioning and honest open relationship is preferable to a struggling monogamous one. I predict an exploration of the pitfalls of this as the series progresses.

Dom’s story takes a more unforgiving route. More of his past is discussed, after he has a fairly explicit Grindr/Gaydar hook-up with a slightly crazy and very keen guy from several floors below. Ethan, a character who was briefly mentioned in the first episode, shows up – and he’s even more of a terrible human being than his voice mail gave him credit for. We find out that several years ago, Dom had given him several thousand dollars of his savings to get him off the drugs he was addicted to. Ethan is selfish and self serving, he is now clean, and working in property-  while he thanks Dom, AA style, he has no intention of ever paying back his financial kindness. It’s irritating to see bad people doing better than good people but this guy deserves, as Doris (Dom’s legendary housemate) says, a punch in the neck. A very hard punch in the neck.

I’m still loving this show because of the grounded reality that the characters inhabit, because of the flaws and failings they have and because it’s not about judging them, it’s about observing them as examples of who we are in the present day.

With only eight episodes this season, I’m saddened to think we’re already a quarter of the way though. I think if the story is as good as I hope it’ll be, there could be many more seasons to come which shows how these characters progress; hopefully into happy lives.

P.S. I have been known to dance like Patrick (or worse) when drunk and trying to impress. I’m pretty much an utter failure too.