Oh Paddy, Why do you anger me so?
Last night was the premiere of Season 2 of HBO’s “Looking“, and while the show was definitely engaging and beautifully shot it was also irritating, and that’s mainly because of the lead character Patrick (Jonathan Groff). Hours after the premiere I kept thinking about his character and how something about him has never felt right. Something definitely clicked, and now I have a theory about him. But before we get into my analysis of Paddy, let’s talk about the episode.
The show opened with boys en route to the Russian River for a weekend of relaxation at Dom’s (Murray Bartlett) boyfriends amazing cabin. Paddy wants them to do things like hiking and rowing and playing old board games all weekend, while keeping his mooch friend Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) clean and sober. The three friends seem happy together even though both Agustin and Paddy are dealing with the issues from the end of last season.
Dom is the only one of the three that is better off than he was last season, as he is in a healthy enough open relationship with Lynn. Although there was a feeling that maybe Dom isn’t totally content. He admitted he wanted to use the weekend to snoop through some of Lynn’s stuff because they don’t talk about past relationships when they are together. Something tells me that Dom doesn’t REALLY want Lynn, and is snooping to find any sort of excuse to leave him.
Meanwhile Agustin is unemployed uninspired and depressed, and apparently he’s been drowning his sorrows in various pills and potions. Patrick, the annoying do-gooder, wants to force Agustin back on the right track and tries to use the weekend as a semi intervention or detox for his roommate (that doesn’t pay any rent). Of course Agustin has packed weed and Molly’s (and aside from a whiny protest, it doesn’t take Patrick very long to indulge).
After the three hike to see thousand year old trees, and row boats down the river and play board games, Doris (Lauren Weedman) arrives (so, how did she know the address? I’ll just let that one go!) and livens their party (and the season premiere) up by forcing them to go out. Luckily during the boys’ little row trip, a cute bear called them out and invited them to a party (how convenient right?). The party in the woods was a great part of the episode, I loved how realistic Patrick’s Molly high was presented, and the long shot with the Disco song “Lost in Music” blaring in the background was so beautifully done.
Eventually everybody branches off. Agustin gets to know the bear, Eddie (Daniel Franzese) who is a social worker and is HIV positive. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the show is going to follow the lead of “Queer as Folk” and “Noah’s Arc” by having a character whose only purpose is to talk about HIV statistics and preach safe sex. Dom hooks up with a young guy, and his feelings for Lynn are proven to not be as deep as he may have thought.
And of course there’s Paddy. Sigh.
He’s feeling his Molly and dancing when a very hot Latin guy with a SF Giants cap walks right up to him and kisses him, because Paddy is just a magnet to those types of guys right? Clearly this was a way to trick the viewers into thinking it was Richie, Paddy’s gorgeous boyfriend last season. It’s also a way to trick us into thinking that Paddy called Richie, when in fact he called his attached boss Kevin (Russell Tovey) to come and fuck him in the woods. He ends the sexy session by being passive aggressive and letting Kevin know he wants more, although at this point Paddy should know he’s just a side-whore and he should find someway to be okay with that. He is so ashamed of this affair that he hasn’t even confessed to his besties. He finally tells Dom and Agustin at the end of the episode, and… well… let’s get into my theory about Paddy right now.
So my biggest problem with the Paddy character is that he is so incredibly naive and ignorant about the world. He’s 30, but he acts like he’s 15 when talking about men and sex and drugs. It’s unlikely that a man who has been living in the Bay Area on his own for over 10 years could still be that clueless. Not only is he naïve about the gay world, he’s also this Debbie Downer/Dudley Do Right/Holier than Thou type of person who is so cautious that he’s the only one wearing a life preserver on a low-speed rowing trip. He’s the one who has to kill the fun of taking a Molly by noting he could have a heart attack. And he’s the high-pitched Gay who is most likely to squeal out a “Oh My Gaawwwdd”, or like when they took the Molly he squealed out “I just took MOLLY!”.
You have all of those traits which paint him out to be an immature man-child, but somehow he manages to be a magnet to hot guys, and he’s able to get what he wants exactly when he wants it (Kevin drove two hours to bone him, so essentially he got the exact dick he wanted at the exact time he needed it).
So what is wrong with this character? It just seems too unbelievable right? Well after some thinking about it, I wonder if Jonathan Groff was the right guy to play this character.
If we dissect the character we know he’s a privileged wasp from Denver that went to UC Berkeley and works in video game programming. He geeks out about trading cards and things like that, so we can go with the idea that he’s this big dork. And yes, a guy that has had his face in text books and video games all his life probably isn’t all that socially adept or sexually confident. That would explain some of his behavior and his innocence in the gay world of sex and men.
This would be believable if Paddy wasn’t so cute (I shouldn’t say “cute”, but more of a scrawny Sheldon type), because let’s face it Jonathan Groff is really cute. Groff is sexy and alluring with a nice body, and even with Paddy’s goofy-ness it’s easy to believe that a guy that LOOKS like Groff would have no issue getting sex in San Francisco. But he’s not “dorky” enough to make the naivety of the character believable. So here’s another possibility.
Maybe Paddy has just come into his hotness. Maybe he was chubby before and he has since slimmed down, or was scrawny and has now bulked up. It’s possible, because often people who have gone through a transformation like that have trouble adjusting to the new-found attention. The problem with that idea is that the writers have given us no indication that he’s gone through any type of transformation. Little comments could help, like maybe Dom or Agustin talking about how he USED to be (ex: “back when you weighed about 90 pounds”). Or Paddy could talk about having to go to the gym or yoga or working out to maintain his “new” look? Either way, that Paddy character is just too hard to believe as it is. Because Jonathan Groff has a charming likable quality about him, it’s easy to watch the show, but if you really think about the character it just doesn’t fit the image.
All in all, the premiere episode was good enough. The show continues to have such beautiful cinematography and is actually engaging. There were some very hokey and contrived writing on this episode, but “Looking” is basically just a more serious-minded soap opera so those moments are forgiven. I wouldn’t say that this episode set up anything really interesting for the rest of the season, it was just nice to watch something so pretty and sexy again.
On a side note, as much as I’d love looking at Raul Castillo all season it would really break my heart if we had to watch Patrick feign any kind of affection for Richie. Obviously Richie will be a part of the season, but I hate the idea that it will involve Paddy because Richie should be smart enough to stay away from him.