Looking at Looking: Eleven Minor Things I Found to Be Unrealistic About The First Episode


For many years I used to recap TV shows for New York Magazine—and much of the time it involved counting. I would add up who won each episode of NYC Prep, or I would list out all the reasons why Jill Zarin was a monster. And for most if its six seasons, Jessica Pressler and I would tally up what was real, and what was fake on every episode of Gossip Girl. So at this point in my life, I watch TV and find myself absently counting along as I watch. How many times does Rebel Wilson’s American accent fail her on Super Fun Night? How often do I spot product placement on Cougar Town?

Anyway, I couldn’t help count along with Looking, the new HBO show that was hyped as the “gay Girls,” and whose promotional materials are plastered all over New York City. This time, it was the things that seemed unreasonably false about the show. So here, a list.

1)  The episode starts with Jonathan Groff looking for sex in a public park. I know his name on the show is Patrick, but it’s going to be a long time before I can think of him as anything but Spring Awakening/Hair/Glee Jonathan Groff. Anyway, he’s cruising because it seems funny, and the youngish bear-ey guy that finds him is cute enough. The whole interaction turns out silly (“cold hands!”) and safe . . . This seems like the way a straight person would imagine park-cruising. A straight, very optimistic person.

2) The phone rings during the short hook up, and Jonathan Groff assumes it is his mother. Isn’t he a little old to think about his mother every time sex gets interrupted? At 29 I feel like sex is most often interrupted by a) roommates or b) someone falling asleep.

3) Jonathan Groff is clearly a semi-regular pot smoker (we see him smoke a little later in the show) but still, he tells a friend, “I’m not taking weed with you ever again.” Emphasis mine.

4) The gays complain that Instagram filters have made it impossible to tell whether a guy is hot or not. I feel like . . . I can still tell.

5) Speaking of Instagram filters, is San Francisco like, existing in an Instagram filter? Is the show always going to be colored this way? Is it exhausting to live in “Sierra”?

6) It seems unrealistic to me that the 40-something Dom a) has a roommate and b) that roommate is his ex-girlfriend. However, I concede that this is maybe a San Francisco thing.

7) On a date the doctor asks if Jonathan Groff is drug and disease free. Isn’t part of the point of “online dating” that you can resolve this kind of issue in the “online” portion? (To be fair, this was a doctor that insisted on dividing the check based on who bought what, which ought to be against some law.)

8) No one, not even verbal catastrophe Jonathan Groff, would admit to cruising in a park on the first date, except if that first “date” happened after the two had just finished fucking in said park.

9) Jonathan Groff meets Richie on MUNI. Is that a thing? Do people do meet-cutes on public transportation? Do people take MUNI? I am not sure about either of these things.

10) OK, here is the central fallacy of the show: Jonathan Groff has never been in a relationship for more than six months, and yet he is completely adorable, funny, successful, not naturally sexually adventurous or voracious, and is kind of a nester. I’m not saying it’s impossible that someone great can be single, it just seems unlikely that this version of a great person would never have had a serious relationship before.

11) This exchange: “Something awful happened to me at work today. I didn’t get to fuck somebody I wanted to fuck” “So?” “So it’s the first time that ever happened to me.” Come on.

These were pretty minor things. I liked the show generally. The characters seemed likeable and natural and not caricatures. They all seem like they’ve slept together at some point, like a lot of gay groups that have known one another a long time. They struggle with work and relationships, although it seems like the show is much more oriented towards “looking” for sex and love than Girls. I wonder if that will get old. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching (and counting).


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