HBO's Looking Is 'Very Different' from Queer as Folk, Promises 'Contemporary' Eye on Gay Lives

looking-season-1-2HBO’s new comedy series Looking (premiering Jan. 19) may be about a trio of gay friends, but it’s no Queer as Folk, the producers maintained at the show’s Television Critics Association winter press tour session.

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Although the late Showtime drama and Looking both explore the same subject matter, “That probably is the limit of the similarities,” said exec producer Andrew Haigh.

“It’s different. It’s a different period, obviously,” added Haigh. “It’s different tonally. Stylistically, it’s very different.”

Just as Queer as Folk was representative of its time (Pittsburgh circa the early ’00s), one of the goals of Looking is to explore “the most contemporary way we can portray gay characters,” creator Michael Lannan explained.

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Helping to set the HBO series apart is its Northern California setting. “There was an opportunity to do a show in San Francisco that had never been done before,” said Lannan. Because despite the city’s history with gay culture, “I had never seen the San Francisco that I knew on screen,” he continued. “We wanted to find a new way to portray San Francisco” and to show some “rough edges.”

At the heart of the show is the friendships between the characters played by Jonathan Groff (Glee), Frankie J. Alvarez (Smash), Murray Bartlett (Guiding Light) and Raul Castillo, each of whom Haigh and Lannan hope will “resonate” with viewers, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“There’s a lot more to them than just being gay,” said Haigh.

Coming out is “not the big issue in their lives,” added Groff. “They’re dealing with their relationships at work or with their friends or with their significant others.”