11 Things We Know About HBO’s “Looking”

We’re a month away from Looking premiering on HBO on January 19th (at 10:30pm, following Girls) and to say we’ve been anxiously awaiting this half hour devoted to a group of gay friends in San Francisco is an understatement.

Ever since the project, created by Michael Lannan (Lorimer, the short film on which Looking is based) and Exec Produced by Andrew Haigh (Weekend), out actor/producer David Marshall Grant (Smash, Brothers & Sisters) and Sarah Condon (In Treatment), was announced, the anticipation has only been building.

But now we know more…

TheBacklot was given a sneak peek of at the first 4 episodes of the series, which stars Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett and Frankie Alvarez, and while we’ll have more coverage closer to the premiere next month, here are 11 things we can tell you.  

It’s Not the Guys version of GirlsLooking is the gay show I’ve always wanted with characters that seem real. The gay men on this show aren’t reduced to stereotypes as we’ve seen far too often in other series. And, unlike Lena Dunham’s love it or hate it HBO series, there is no self-indulgent spin on these guys. No matter who you are there’s something to relate to with every one of them.

Groff, Bartlett, Alvarez: None of this works if our core group of guys don’t click and click these guys do. Groff is Patrick, the earnest guy who probably tries a little too hard in work (as a video game developer) and love. Bartlett plays almost-40 Dom, who is dealing with no longer being THE guy everyone wants to f**k and Alvarez’s Agustin is newly living with his BF and figuring out what that means.

The Writing: While there are terrific friend scenes with the guys that reminded me of Sex And The City, the show also has the welcome habit of unexpectedly sliding in dialogue that is both profound and spot-on. In the third episode, for example, Agustin and Patrick are talking over their respective work and personal lives when Patrick says, “I don’t know if either of us are very good at being who we think we are.”

Gay Guys Have Sex: Considering the series begins with Patrick in the woods with a stranger looking to, well, not exchange recipes, you’ll see that sex is a big part of the show. But it isn’t everything. This is cable (and 2013) so we can see two men having casual sex, intimate sex, three-ways, etc. and it’s just a part of this world, not THE part of this world.

Dating Sucks… Oh, Patrick. He sometimes tries too hard, says the wrong thing and then sits back and wonders ‘What happened?!’ (Been there, done that…many times) The point with him and the way Groff beautifully plays him is that he’s learning as he goes along and, for our entertainment, making more than a few wrong steps. 

…and Relationships Are Hard. How are you supposed to feel when an ex is getting married to someone else? What does it mean when you and your BF have your first 3-way? Can two gay men meet in a steam room and end up just friends? These are just some of the questions that come up in the various story threads, but they’re all treated with the same importance and relevance to our core characters.

We’re All Dreamers: Like all of us, the guys have dreams and, if the first episodes are an indication, nothing will come easy for them, as in real life. Agustin is trying to rediscover the artist inside, Dom wants to open a restaurant while Patrick is looking for that next big thing, whatever it may be.

lookinghbo(L to r)  Frankie Alvarez (Augustin), Murray Bartlett (Dom) and Jonathan Groff (Patrick)
Photos: HBO

Hairy Is Good: Representative of San Francisco, you don’t find the usual bevy of manscaped men on Looking. Groff may be clean cut but both Bartlett and Alvarez (and the majority of the men) have facial and body hair that is natural, often not trimmed and, yes, sexy as hell. We also get to see Folsom Street Fair which is as definitive San Francisco as it gets.  And, yes, you’ll want to take in the sight of Groff in a leather vest.

Ah, the Internet: It’s funny because it’s true! Yes, the internet is a big part of all our lives and the show represents that perfectly as we see Patrick cruise guys with his OK Cupid account and has to navigate whether a guy is cute or not post-Instagram filter. Dom uses Grindr when he needs to get off (or uses Facebook to stalk a past relationship). And let’s just say the World Wide Web comes in handy when Patrick needs to research uncut penises.

Looking…for Russell Tovey?: Don’t worry, Tovey is coming, so to speak, but he doesn’t appear until episode 3. The sexy out Brit  plays Patrick’s new boss and while there are some sparks between the two, the show doesn’t instantly put them together…though you’ll be wanting it to happen!

A Woman (Almost) Steals The Show: As Doris, Dom’s long-ago GF and now-roommate, the awesome Lauren Weedman is that friend/conscience that tells you what you don’t want to hear but is typically spot on with her brutally honest observations. But, like all the friendships, you can see real love between Doris and Dom and that is what the show does so well across the board.

Are you excited for Looking? What are you looking forward to the most?

Looking premieres January 19th at 10:30pm on HBO.