Andrew Haigh, Frankie J. Alvarez, HBO Looking, HBO Looking Season Finale Review, Jonathan Groff, Lauren Weedman, Looking, Looking HBO, Looking HBO Season Finale Review, Looking Review, Looking Season Finale Review, Michael Lannan, Murray Bartlett, OT Fagbenle, Raul Castillo, Russell Tovey, Scott Bakula, TJ Linnard
For the past 8 weeks, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with HBO’s new series “Looking“. The acting, writing, cinematography and direction of the show has been more than impressive overall. So impressive that I often had a hard time separating the fantasy from the reality, causing frustration and plenty of debate. Even though I know the show is fiction, some of the story arcs and characters have evoked real feelings from me, which proves how good the show is. The job of the creators is to bring out emotions from it’s viewers, and on that token Michael Lannan, Andrew Haigh and company have succeeded.
On the season finale that aired last night, I finally realized that even though certain things are exaggerated, the show does portray a realistic side of the gay world. Jonathan Groff‘s character Patrick has been the focal point of the show, though I was admittedly jealous of his seemingly perfect existence, last nights finale put him in a situation that is a sad reality of what some of us gays put ourselves through.
The supporting cast, Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Agustine (Frankie J Alvarez), had interesting arcs throughout this season, but you can’t help but think they were slightly underdeveloped. Dom, for instance, spent half of the season filled with regret about wasting opportunities and spending too much time focused on the wrong things and the wrong men. He realized his dream of opening up his own restaurant, and a random meeting in a bath house was the answer to fulfilling that dream, as Scott Bakula‘s character Lynn was the financial savior to help Dom succeed. Bartlett and Bakula did a great job in acting this story out, but it did seem like Dom got what he wanted just a little too easily without any real effort. One great thing about Dom was his best friend, roommate and ex-girlfriend Doris. She was a funny, sometimes very abrasive but overall supportive and loving character played to perfection by Lauren Weedman.
Agustine’s story ended predictably bad. An early conversation in the season had Agustine admitting that maybe he was trying to be something he’s not, and on the finale his ex-boyfriend Franklin (O.T. Fagbenle) explicitly told him who he was, “a bored rich kid” who even in the face of having a good thing sabotaged it with his destructive rebellious nature. He spent the entire season trying to find an art project he felt passionate about, and latched on to a creepy escort C.J. (T.J. Linnard). Agustine ended up wasting money and ruining his relationship for this art project that he ultimately didn’t even follow through with, which seems to be a pattern with his character. He loses a great, supportive and caring boyfriend in Franklin because of his inability to commit to responsibility.
Patrick, the main character and the cause of the majority of my frustration with the show, is relatable because of his awkwardness and his constantly putting his foot in his mouth. His ineptness at dating is definitely something we all can relate to, because the dating world is confusing. Groff was great at portraying these difficulties, while also playing this naive character who is undeniably adorable and sympathetic. He sells the fact that even with his flaws, Patrick is irresistible and totally someone lots of guys would swoon over. The frustrating thing about the character was that he seemed to get everything he wanted despite the wrong moves he made with men throughout the season. Throughout the season he found himself torn between two men. There’s his boss Kevin (Russell Tovey) who is Patrick’s ideal guy, and there’s his boyfriend Richie (Raul Castillo) a sweet and genuine guy who has flaws that Patrick has trouble ignoring. On the finale, Richie confesses his feelings for Patrick, which are not mutually felt. Patrick eventually has sex with the attached Kevin who seems to make it known that he only wants him sexually. It would seem like Patrick has two very hot men who want him, an ideal situation for lots of men. In reality it leaves him with a hard decision which is an accurate problem in our gay world. He either has to settle for a guy who is really into him that he’s not that into, or settle for being a sexual play thing to the guy he wants more from.
This situation seems a little fantastical only because Richie is so incredibly attractive that it’s hard to imagine anyone having to “settle” for him, but what’s real is that we gays sometimes have these preferences in men that get in the way of happiness. In Episode 7, Patrick has a conversation with his conservative mother where he tried to deflect his true feelings for Richie on her. He feels Richie is flawed because he isn’t financially stable, doesn’t have any real ambitions and is Mexican. Whereas Kevin is successful, financially stable, powerful and white; the polar opposite of Richie. Richie admits he’s falling in love with Patrick but doesn’t want to if he isn’t ready, and Patrick sheds a tear because he knows in his heart that even though Richie is a great guy, he isn’t ready to force himself to feel the same way. Kevin admits his feelings for Patrick, which are purely sexual, and he doesn’t lead him on with any promises of breaking up with his current boyfriend
Patrick is left in the very real situation of throwing away the guy and a sure thing with someone who really wants him, and settling for a strictly sexual relationship with his dream guy while always hoping for more. The writers have done an excellent job of setting up Patrick as someone who gets everything he wants, but showing that even an adorable and irresistible character is left in a situation all of us go through. Throughout the past 8 weeks I felt that the show presented a gay world that was too easy for the characters and thus not real, but this finale wrapped things up perfectly and displayed a real problem in our community. The show was entertaining and I’m really eager for the second season already, but most importantly with this finale it showed accurately the difficulties of Looking for love.