HBO's Looking: Did It Catch Your Eye?

Looking Premiere RecapEven before it had aired, HBO’s Looking was being likened to a gay male Girls (which, not coincidentally, it follows). And the comparison makes sense, given that the San Francisco-set dramedy also follows a group of friends (played by Glee grad Jonathan Groff, Smash alum Frankie J. Alvarez and former Guiding Light hunk Murray Bartlett) coming of age – albeit a somewhat older age – in a big city. But will the freshman series become the cultural touchstone that its predecessor has? Or will it be relegated to the ranks of cult favorites like Showtime’s Queer as Folk?

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Our money’s on the former. Smartly- – and appealingly sweetly- – written, Looking makes a star not only of Broadway baby Groff (please, please, please let him sing!) but of San Francisco, and sets up Bartlett as the kind of sex god to whom Samantha Jones would tip her diaphragm. But, of course, the real question isn’t what we think, it’s what you think. So weigh in, why don’t you, by grading the premiere in the poll below, then hit the comments to explain why the show did – or didn’t – deliver what you were, um, looking for.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. alistaircrane says:

    Disappointed. I wanted a show as sexy and salacious as Queer as Folk. Guess I’ll keep “looking”.

    • Jared says:

      If you read or heard anything at all about this series you would have know it was never going to be like QAF!

      • alistaircrane says:

        That’s not a good thing. We need a new QAF in this day and age.

        • Jon says:

          An overly sexed soap opera that reduces gay men to melodramatic plot points? No thanks.

          • David4 says:

            Yeah we really need a new QaF where a bomb goes off in the gay night club? Wow that was horrible.

          • alistaircrane says:

            “Overly-sexed, “soap opera”, melodramatic”: YES PLEASE!!! Your key words are everything I want in a gay-themed tv show.

        • taelorrye says:

          just watch DTLA on Logo, and let this show be its own thing.

          • Eric says:

            @alistaircrane — You’re an idiot. I’m not bashing other gay guys. Television only shows one side of the gay community: Bitchy, over sexualized queens. The gay community is constantly being looked down upon because people they every gay guy is sexually promiscuous. That is annoying. Looking definitely has some stereotypes, but it’s nice to see a character like Patrick. He is just your run of the mill guy. He isn’t a stereotype. He is just a guy who happens to be gay and just going through life. That is refreshing. I’m not bashing other gay guys. I’m just glad we are seeing another side of the gay community. And YOU are part of the reason why the gay community is looked down upon. You actually want people to look at us gay men and think all we are is sexually promiscuous, bitchy queens? If so, that’s awful.

        • Eric says:

          Are you kidding me? We already have enough of that. Television already makes a mockery of the gay community, including QAF. It’s about time television actually shows a different side. I don’t know where they are taking “Looking,” but from the pilot, it looks promising. We finally have a show that a lot of us gay men can relate to. I’m over seeing shows that portray gay men as bitchy, over sexualized, over the top queens. So no, we need less of QAF-style shows and more of this.

          • CSI Fan says:

            @Eric; Completely agree (WHERE’S THE ‘LIKE’ BUTTON!!!!!!)

          • alistaircrane says:

            Wow, Eric, you have some deep internalized homophobia issues you need to work through. I always feel sad for gay guys who bash other gay guys. You must be dealing with a lot of torment about your sexuality identity. And CSI Fan, you are just as bad. We need more gay shows that embrace the camp and sex that are part and parcel of being a modern gay man.

          • RyanC says:

            Alastaircrane, it’s deep internalised homophobia to believe that being gay has to equal camp and promiscuity. How about letting people find their own identity and not force them to fit your incredibly narrow view of what it means to be gay?

          • alistaircrane says:

            RyanC, you’re spewing the same nonsense as Eric. Both of you guys need to see a therapist. Eric is especially bad, bashing other gay men as “queens”. Also, ALL gay men are promiscuous because ALL MEN love sex! It’s easier for us gay guys to get it than the straighties. I am tired of internalized homophobia-stricken folks like you trying to bash and dismantle the “queeny” side of being gay. You’re all a bunch of “straight-acting”, miserable homophobes.

          • AR says:

            alistaircrane: No. Just No. There are actually some gay men that can keep it in their pants and don’t have one night stands and actually look for relationships. So Eric and RyanC are correct.

            Now I don’t agree with calling people “queens” but there is another side to the gay community than the one that is usually shown on tv and one that some of us can actually relate to.

    • B says:

      Hey man, did you know that you can like both Queer as Folk and Looking? YES, it is an option! I know, it’s surprising.

  2. Dan says:

    The cliches in the first three minutes were a disappointment but then I realized if I wanted a show about gays who can never kiss or touch I could just watch Modern Family.

  3. A says:

    I felt that it was slow and boring. I try not to judge pilots too harshly. I’ll check out the second episode.

    • Will says:


      It was soooo slow and boring. I wanted to love this but it was dull. I don’t need to see people partying or anything like that but it didn’t have enough energy. idk something was lacking. I do like the cast though!

      • Ty says:

        I loved the first episode and found nothing about it boring in the least. The guy behind this show was also behind that gay themed movie weekend. Lovely film about guys trying to hash out a real relationship, it was not a whore show, and was better for it. Extremely well done, it makes sense that I like this show since its creators roots are exactly up my alley.

  4. Rissa says:

    Loved it! Jonathan Groff is adorable!

  5. greysfan says:

    I got bored after 10 minutes. Don’t get what all the critics are raving about. Its not good. Disappointed and won’t be watching any more of it.

    • Eric says:

      ….And that is why TV shows get cancelled. You have to give a show more than 10 minutes. Actually, you have to give a show more than just the pilot episode. A lot of shows don’t find its footing until a few episodes in. I for one loved the pilot and am excited to see more. I suggest giving it another try. 10 minutes isn’t enough time for a show to develop. You gave up on it entirely too quickly.

      • greysfan says:

        Actually i give MOST shows 3-4 episodes but this one i gave up on very quickly. I’ve seen it all before and its nothing original. It is boring.

        • Ty says:

          I think part of the draw might have to do with orientation. Are you gay? I don’t think straight guys would give any time to a show like this. Likewise, as a gay guy, the exact same type of show with a cast full of lesbians would have zero draw for me as it’s completely uninteresting to me. Not sure if gay viewers are enough to sustain this type of show, but hopefully production costs are relatively small.

      • dude says:

        If a show isn’t interesting in the first 10 minutes, why am I going to devote at least four hours to it in hopes it’ll get better? I’m all for giving show a chance if they show promise. I don’t expect them to be perfect on the first outing (in fact, I find a lot of shows that have fantastic pilots, struggle to live up to that standard in subsequent outings) but if I’m not interested in a show at all during the first episode, I don’t watching more of it will change anything.

        • B says:

          Well really just two hours but whatever. It’s not supposed to be porn, people!

          • Will says:

            Who said they were expecting porn?

            I didn’t tune in expecting to see sex and partying, but what I did see was so boring! I’ve seen better gay storylines on main stream straight tv series. :-\

  6. Mark says:

    I still can’t get over how ugly two of those guys are.

    • alistaircrane says:

      I hate their facial hair…ick!!!

    • Robert Taylor says:

      Fascinating opinion. Really fascinating dive into the merits of the pilot. Douche.

      • alistaircrane says:

        Appearance is everything. We live in a looks-based society. Deal.

        • Robert Taylor says:

          I’m so happy you are so wrong. If we lived in a society where every actor on every TV show had to be have “supermodel good looks,” we wouldn’t have “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead” or “Downton Abbey” or “30 Rock” or “Southland” or “The Newsroom” or “Homeland.” I’d much prefer fantastic actors reflecting the many real shapes, looks and sizes of society on the small screen. You want everyone to look like a model? Go watch “Big Brother” — I’m sure you won’t miss those brain cells much anyway.

          • alistaircrane says:

            I’ll watch what I like, and I am allowed to have a preference for sexy people. You need to get off your high horse and stop telling people what they can or can’t like.

        • “We live in a looks based society”…You should be very proud of the fact that you buy into what society dictates. You’ll live an easy life never having an original thought or opinion of your own.

          • alistaircrane says:

            I’m just describing society, honey.

          • Robert Taylor says:

            You keep on judging the quality of shows on the meter of whether their casts are pretty enough to meet your requirements, and I’ll keep on judging you for being so shallow. Fair? Perfect!

          • Bee says:

            Is he wrong? Look all around you from the media to everyday life and yes you’ll see that we are a community based on looks, most especially the gay community. Is that right? Of course now, I wish it were different, but it is true and denying otherwise makes you sound like one of those people who tell others “inner beauty is important”, but will probably still drool over the the empty headed good looking guy.

    • Strepsi says:

      @ Mark, what a grotesque comment. The 3 leads actually look like real people! How shocking for a TV show. For example, in a world where everyone is a 20something gym bunny spray-tanned orange, in a world where even the “exotic Latino” Bachelor has to be blond and waxed, Augustin as a short, very hairy Latino guy is so refreshing… and super cute, the kind of guy who would be hot IN REAL LIFE.

      • alistaircrane says:

        Actually, he’s not hot. Body hair is disgusting and makes him unappealing and difficult to look at. Fortunately there are people like you who will take guys like that, leaving the smooth, gorgeous, musclebound hotties for me.

  7. Robert says:

    I enjoyed the premier, it had a comfortable inviting feel; I will be adding the series to my must watch list.

  8. j says:

    Critics got to see more than the first ep, so it’s likely it gets better, I guess.

  9. CJ says:

    I really liked it, and from what I’ve heard, it gets more interesting as the season progresses. Looking forward to next week’s episode.

  10. dft says:

    i get that they are trying to make it feel “real”… but real doesn’t translate into interesting tv viewing… just look at “reality shows” ;)

    i’ll give it another shot, but they need to amp up the pace and drama a little bit.

  11. Adam says:

    I loved it a lot – they really packed a lot in to the thirty minutes. The characters feel really full and realistic, and there’s some nice hints to backstories as well as future plots. Between this and True Detective, HBO has a really awesome Sunday night for me (still in season two somewhere on Girls).

  12. Tyler says:

    It was really good. I just wish it could have been longer, I felt like it ended so quickly.

  13. Mark says:

    Really really bad and uncomfortable to watch. I blame the casting. Would have loved Andrew Rannells in the show.

  14. Geo says:

    What’s maybe the strangest thing about “Looking” for an HBO show was how little sex/nudity was in it. Sandwiched between Girls’ casual explicit nudity and a graphic sex scene on “True Detective,” “Looking” felt almost prudish– even the threeway was so tame (cutting away before anything really happened) it could have appeared on a regular network show. Pretty much any sex scene was interrupted, shut down, or took place off camera. It’s certainly different than Queer As Folk in this context.

  15. hipster says:

    Decent premiere. Nothing too great or too disappointing. I’ll stick around for another episode or two before deciding if I’ll continue.

    Groff was okay. He just uses his usual boyish charm into this role. Will need to see more but I don’t expect anything too great from him as the series goes on.

    Supporting cast of characters is more intriguing to me.

  16. Joey says:

    Since when has Girls become a “cultural touchstone”? If anything it shows the constant deterioration of my generation, but it’s not like the previous generation is any better.

  17. ragincajun says:

    I loved it and didn’t want it to end. It is great depiction of gay men going through real life issues without sensationalizing and whoring the lifestyle like QAF. Also, I agree with the comments about having to give the show a few episodes before making a determination. I absolutely hated the first couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men, but by the fourth or fifth episode of each, I was hooked.

    • Why is everyone demonizing QaF? It wasn’t always a good show but it did open up paths to gay content and gay TV that were never available before. Promiscuity and “whoring” in the heterosexual population is celebrated but gay men are constantly apologizing for the group of men in their population who like to screw.

      • alistaircrane says:

        I agree….it’s sad to see so much internalized homophobia going on in this thread. What really gets me is the hypocrisy. The people decrying gay sex are the same ones who love to f*** or get f***ed, yet they’re trying to act like chaste little virgins. GMAFB already!

    • alistaircrane says:

      QAF was brilliant. Looking is just rubbish. QAF held up a mirror to gay life. Obviously you didn’t like what you saw because you don’t like being gay and you don’t like other gays.

    • Mark says:

      RaginCajun. So the Zappy forum members came here to post.

  18. LIam says:

    Looking wants to be a realistic look at gay life for a group of friends. I get that. However, when I watch TV I don’t want a realistic look at my life, I want a good drama or comedy.

  19. Zach says:

    Is it just me or is Alistair Crane a total douchebag? I may not be gay, but I actually prefer to day women who are not traditionally “model gorgeous”. I know plenty of gay people, only one of whom is at all effeminate. But at least he’s a good guy who isn’t a shallow ass.

  20. Maybelline Cohen-Chang says:

    This show has got the most unlikeable, untalented and unattractive cast ever. Only Groff is remotely watchable..give this one season and done.

  21. HAP says:

    It succeeded in making its lead-in, Girls, look like an Emmy winner!