Saturday, 22 February 2014

Looking no more

If you haven't seen it, you need to see it, HBO's Looking, a drama series following the lives of three gay men in San Francisco, is one of the best depictions of modern gay life I've ever seen on TV. Yes, even more realistic that Stanford in Sex and the City.

Barlett, Groff and Alvarez

Starring Jonathan Groff of Glee fame, Murray Barlett, Frankie Alvarez and even Brit, Russell Tovey of Being Human the story follows Groff's character, Patrick, on his quest for love whilst living in San Francisco and working as a games designer. His friend Dom, a career-waiter, played by Barlett, is soon to be 40 and realising he needs to achieve his life's ambitions sooner rather than later and Alvarez plays Agustin, an artist whose in a long-term relationship and experimenting with the parameters, which an open relationship could provide him and his partner.



What's fundamentally amazing about this series is, quite simply, the characters aren't "gay characters" they're fully realised, three-dimensional modern men. No caricatures, no clich├ęs, so much so that I shocked even myself when I thought I had Dom sussed as the ageing wannabe twink, sex-obsessed "responsible for the breakdown of modern America" gay when in fact he's a lot more vulnerable, complicated, confused and scared than all that. Similarly, Agustin's sexual experimentation isn't so much along the anti-commitment narrative we've come to expect from representations of gay men in long-term relationships on TV, it's something profoundly more realistic than that.

However, Patrick's character, and in particular the relationship that's struck up between him and Richie and the way that it's explored is something never before fully realised in TV drama, Episode 5 is an eye-opener.


Episode 5 is on lock-down, it's just Patrick and Richie and their getting to know one another. In bed, in person, in real life. We've moved away from the "this is what gays do" kind of TV representation circa Queer As Folk into something simply more in-tune to authentic gay relationships. The way gay men talk about first times, coming-out, what they want from life, marriage, families, what their mother thinks of them, what their dad things of them, are they top or bottom, or both; these are the things we don't see on TV, these are the conversations gay men have with each other when they're with each other and we've never had it on TV before in a way that wasn't for the purposes of educating a hetrosexual viewing audience on what gay men do in bed/restaurants/on the sofa/in libraries.

We're not at the zoo here, we're among friends.

Airing on Sky Atlantic in the UK