HBO should renew Looking, even though nobody watches (AV Club)

looking av club

Really falling hard this year for Looking. Watching Season 1 a second time cinched it for me. I own it on Blu-ray. I love the slow pace, the awkwardness, the imperfections, the joy, and the love. AV Club really says it right,

Looking is that rare TV series you could call “the best show you’re not watching” and be statistically accurate to two decimal places. It’s Enlightened all over again: There’s a half-hour HBO dramedy in its second season that’s one of the very best shows on TV. It gets a twentieth of the attention of night leader Girls. It will never win an Emmy. And HBO hasn’t announced a ruling on its future yet. Last time the network canceled the best show on TV, but given the ratings, it’s hard to argue against the cycle continuing. But Looking has a rare claim to fame that contributes to both its shallow cultural footprint and its colossal greatness: Looking is the only show on American television right now about gay men as a group.

Similar to the way Black-ish and Fresh Off The Boat highlight how rarely television’s sense of diversity extends to whole minority families, Looking shows how rarely we get to see gay men together, let alone seeing them in bed together. Instead of one gay regular with one recurring suitor at a time, Looking paints a rainbow. It wouldn’t be on television without the handsome young WASP at the center, but around him are a depressive Cuban-American, his lively black partner, a 40-year-old white chef, a Mexican-American barber, an English beefcake, a young HIV-positive bear, an older widower, the token straight woman who’s not so token anymore, and a Wooly Willy’s worth of facial hair arrangements. Looking might get low ratings—even lower now that the Gen X family on Togetherness moved in between Looking and Girls—but even if a substitute comes along, canceling Lookingperpetuates the cycle where TV only shows multiple gay men together two months out of the year.

Looking plays in a lower key. Its characters are past coming out and too late for the ’80s AIDS crisis, the typical subjects of gay TV. Around the edges are the headline consequences—a poz character, another scarred by the long ago death of a partner, a whole shelter of homeless trans kids—but Looking’s focus is on the internal: shame, heartbreak, loneliness. The question of how to accept yourself in an overtly and covertly homophobic society is more in line with Enlightened’s struggle with how to be good or Mad Men’s struggle with how to be happy, only Looking is more naturalistic. Patrick’s love triangle with his well-off boss and a working-class Latino sounds like a ’50s melodrama plot, but the mood is more in line with ’30s romance, with its fluid dialogue and bittersweet tonal alchemy. Think Mitchell Leisen’sMidnight, Leo McCarey’s Love Affair, or Josef Von Sternberg without the exoticism. Looking conjures an atmosphere.

That’s what really sets Looking apart, not only from Cucumber and Banana but from television at large. Looking is cinematic.

Read the full article on AV Club.

 

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