HBO News Blog

LOOKING: Series Premiere Review

By Jef Dinsmore on Jan 21, 2014 to Looking

LOOKING_neonOkay and another new comedy series gets underway. There has been quite a bit of buzz about LOOKING; some call it the “gay GIRLS” and many say it is the type of show long in the making and that the likes of it haven’t been seen since Queer as Folk in the U. K and its Showtime reboot here in the States. The show runners, creator/writer/producer Michael Lannan and producer/director Andrew Haigh, state that it is not about gays just that the characters are gay. I don’t know about any of that going into the series premiere. But I am sure an opinion can and will be quickly formed.

On a simple level it is about three guys living their lives in and around San Francisco, California and looking for the types of things all of us do. They seek stability, acceptance, a job, a home, a love and a purposeful life. Since we are all in the same boat in that regard there should be no problem understanding their story as depicted here. 

Looking_trioBut, I offer full honesty in saying that I am a bit uneasy going into this series just based on the trailers seen. *Sigh* Well, as a human being I don’t deny anyone the freedom of expression and life choices, but as a heterosexual I get squeamish and uncomfortable seeing men kissing, cuddling and more. There I said it; don’t get up in my face with any Phil Robertson cracks. Of course, in this day and age and it being HBO I am sure I am going to see these displays of affection and I am going to be unsettled about it. It will be interesting to see how I get through each episode. But, it will also be interesting to see who these men are and just what their story is. Here is an Inside the Episode video


  Episode # 01 – Looking for the Now:

I had a few thoughts before the premiere and even more afterwards. I may never get to explain any plot specifics to this episode. Bear with me and let’s see if we can sift through it all. First, this show is not the “gay GIRLS.” Horvath and company seem to just muddle through life where the San Fran guys act like they have a clue and a plan and they are way more mature than the ladies. The tone of the shows is also different; at the very least, it is noticeable by the show’s titles. This show isn’t called GAYS or GUYS, but LOOKING. It says so much more and it is interesting that each episode denotes just what these men are looking for. What does the title GIRLS say?

Patrick, Augustin and Dom are looking…for the Now. They want to be in the moment; in love and in the city. They are trying hard to achieve that too. The only thing is I didn’t feel so invested in their quest. It wasn’t clicking for me out of the gate, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. That isn’t that unusual a notion. There are plenty of shows across the dial that an audience takes time to warm up to. Maybe, another episode or two will make the difference.LOOKING_Sex

Now, for the elephant in the room – the sex. This debut makes it clear that there will be some throughout the series, whether it is cruising in the park or canoodling in bed. And, yet I was uncomfortable watching it. Oh, I can watch plump, dumpy Hannah Horvath, watch Martin Hart get handcuffed and sexed up or make it through SEX//NOW without an issue, but I am so out of sync with the lifestyle displayed in LOOKING that it is difficult to get past it. I hope these guys find all the things they are looking for, but I don’t know if I will tag along through the whole adventure.

I am sure, with or without me that Patrick will find someone; Augustin will make the right choices and Dom will settle in with what is right for him, whatever it is. Since I don’t relate to their lifestyle at all I was counting on me relating to them on other levels that I just didn’t find on one episode. I know that Patrick made a positive connection with someone when he was least expecting it or when he was trying to get it and that Augustin is wrapping his mind around commitment to one significant other. As for Dom, he reminds us that no matter what age you are you can still be trying to find your place and purpose.  

In conclusion this ends up a vague recap and a whole lot of ponderings about this show and my feelings towards it. I am still ‘looking’ for clarity which is apropos and just might be an episode title someday. I am eager for both upcoming weekly reviews and your thoughts in the comments below. Did you connect with LOOKING or are you looking for something more from it?   


  • Joan

    The creators look a lil bit dumb. I think the whole episode lacked reality and then the actors are not even hot. Whats the whole point then?

  • Personally, I loved the episode. I think it’s an amazing step for HBO to take and I fully support it. I think everyone else at HBOWatch feels the same way.

    Homosexual scenes, especially of an intimate variety, are not what we consider the “norm”. In fact, the number of shows that have actually explored these relationships could probably be counted on one hand. I think Jef depicted what a lot of people feel when watching such an intimate display. It’s not unlike how people initially reacted to heterosexual sex scenes when they first became televised.

    Jef did what all the writers at HBOWatch do and that’s publish an honest opinion on what he saw and how it made him feel. I’d be disappointed if he’d sugar coated it just because it deals with a topic that sparks a lot of debate and aggression in our society.

    And like Elenora pointed out, there are a bunch of us that will be reviewing this show, so there’s going to be a LARGE variety of opinions regarding the content.

  • I also wanted to add that I actually liked the premiere! Not a bad start. I’m interested to find out what happens with these guys. The start may have been a little slow for some but I think it will pick up and we’ll really start to feel for these guys.

  • Not saying I agree with the angle these pieces take but I think it’s interesting to note that other, MAJOR publications are talking about and debating Looking much in the same way Jef is above:

    Just food for thought. We don’t shy away from talking about anything on this site including gay sex, comfortableness around gay sex, comfortableness around Lena Dunham’s nakeness or blood-sucking gay vampire sex etc. It’s all fair game around here. After all it isn’t TV. It’s HBO.

  • Eleonora Iafano

    HBO watch has plenty of other writers on their team, I being one of them. Let’s be honest and frank: this series is NOT for everyone. Don’t bash Jef because he is not entirely comfortable with the subject content. He was upfront about it in the review from the beginning. After all, it was only the first episode. Other HBO Watch writers will be giving their recap and input, so patience is a virtue. I am a heterosexual woman who is married and I will admit, there are scenes in many movies or series that I find uncomfortable watching, from time to time. We strive to do our best with recaps and reviews. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

    • Tor Kjetil Edland

      When a reviewer of a show which stated purpose is to tell stories about gay men spends a significant amount of his review musing about his feelings of disgust associated with viewing depictions of affection between and sexuality of gay men I”m wondering who the intended audience for the review is? Other homophobic people? Gay people are certainly not included as part of the potential readers as they only learn about the straight reviewer’s struggle with “handeling” depictions of gay sexuality in a TV show.

      • I don’t know I think it’s an interesting conversation to have. It doesn’t fit the “episode recap” mold you may have been looking for but I find those boring after a while. Your opinions are welcome and so are Jef’s. I think this conversation that you have helped kindle is much more interesting than a regurgitation of events in a 30 minute show we all just watched.

  • Tor Kjetil Edland

    That was a pretty irrelevant review. Doesn’t HBOWatch have someone on their team that could review this show without feeling the need to share their handwringing about how uncomfortable they get about seeing men kissing? It’s like reading a review of True Blood with the reviewer complaining about how he or she doesn’t really like stories with supernatural elements.

    • I respect Jef’s honesty in this review. I think a lot of straight men, including this one can relate on some level. It’s not a bigotry thing, it’s more of a newness thing. I don’t think anyone expects gay men to particularly enjoy explicit straight sex scenes either.

      That being said I sort of like the fact that this show is making us confront those feelings and maybe even help to stamp them out.

      I don’t expect every review of looking on HBOWatch to confront this issue (straight men watching gay sex scenes) but I do think it’s a great/interesting conversation to take up. Exploring why many feel this way.

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