There’s no use in sugar-coating my overall disappointment with HBO’s newest series “Looking”. On paper, “Looking” is an American comedy-drama TV series about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco. However, after watching the first 5 episodes, it’s clear that the show doesn’t offer much comedy, or drama at all. It also lacks fundamental pace, as each scene seems to wander aimlessly from plotline to plotline without any purpose or direction. What’s worse is the dialogue which appears to be carelessly strewn together, with little thought given to the audience and their viewership. I may not be within the primary demographic of “Looking”, but based on entertainment value and overall appearance, I can only describe this show with one word: boring.
Patrick, Agustín and Dom
Patrick, played by Jonathan Groff, is a video game designer who is awkwardly naïve about relationships. His lack of knowledge and experience with boyfriends has the potential to be funny and make for an interesting plotline; but his awkwardness just leaves me cringing and wishing I didn’t have to see him struggle.
Agustín, played by Frankie J. Álvarez, is Patrick’s best friend. He works as an artist’s assistant, yet unrealistically manages to live in San Francisco, the most expensive city in the United States, with ease. He has a boyfriend who hasn’t really been introduced clearly in my opinion, but it’s likely that some relationship issues will unfold (or should unfold, because Agustín is definitely the most boring aspect of “Looking”).
Lastly, there’s Dom, played by Australia’s Murray Bartlett, who works as a waiter and is also significantly older than Patrick and Agustín. He’s searching for meaning in his life as he nears the age of 40. Dom possesses some qualities that could be considered interesting; but still, he doesn’t have the capability to hold up the entire series.
Comparison to Girls
There is an uncanny resemblance between “Looking” and HBO’s “Girls”. Perhaps it’s the laid-back nature of both shows, following the relatively normal lives of city folks who are challenged by relatively normal obstacles. There’s nothing outrageous happening here: it’s just a couple of girls in New York and a couple of guys in San Francisco trying to live their lives.
What sets “Girls” apart from “Looking” is humour and Lena Dunham’s perceptive eye for comedy even within the most ordinary situations. I believe “Girls” helped to create a new form of comedic timing, one that separates itself with the overused sitcom format (“Big Bang Theory”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Friends”) but also entertains just as much as mockumentary style (“Parks and Recreation”, “The Office”, “Modern Family”). The comedy in “Girls” is relatable, which ultimately draws viewers because the situations become applicable to viewer’s own lives.
“Looking” doesn’t possess this kind of humour. There’s not much to laugh at when your 3 main characters are fundamentally dull and lacking basic intrigue. It’s hard to even identify what’s meant to be funny on the show. For example, after a failed date with a Mexican man at the end episode 2, Patrick says jokingly “I think I may be a racist”. Am I supposed to find this funny? Is racism in general supposed to be something relatable that we can all just laugh about? This isn’t an isolated joke either; there are several moments within the first 5 episodes that contain questionable racist jokes. It’s hard to think that in the year 2014 racism not only still exists, but exists as a mechanism for laughs. But, I digress.
There are very little pros to “Looking”. But if for some reason, you’re looking for a version of “Girls” that depicts the very boring lives of gay men, please feel free to watch. Plus, the episodes are only a half-hour long!