The Internet had some really, really strong reactions to the first episode of Looking. A lot of the thinky pieces were written by critics, who have seen more episodes than most of us, but I still think the extreme response is a bit premature. How do we know what story this show is going to tell if we’re just one (or two, or four) episodes in? Richard Lawson outlined my feelings well in a great piece he did on VF.com. But mainly, the point is this: the show is not trying to represent what life is like for every gay person, just as Girls is not trying to depict what life is like for every human out there with a vagina. It would be impossible to make a show about “gay life” because there are so many different ways to be gay and be alive. It’s just a show about these three guys, who are particular kinds of people (video game programmer, Puerto Rican, artist, couple, waiter, 40something, etc) that happen to be gay and looking for sex and love. It’s interesting to me because of that latter thing, but also because it’s kind of nicely written and the characters are likeable and it’s only a half hour long.
That said, a lot of things on the show are like my particular brand of gay life, so it’s still fun to nitpick. So here’s another list of things I found unrealistic or silly about the show—not to be considered a critique of the goals of the show, or of the show’s existence. Just, you know, bitchy gay asides.
1) Jonathan Groff has never hooked up with an uncut guy, and his friends make him worry that he has to “take an evening course.” “You gotta know what you’re doing!” one says. I remember thinking, hundreds of years ago before I had encountered an uncircumcised penis, that it would be a big deal. Of course it wasn’t, and while there are things one should know, it’s hardly an “evening course” scenario. A brief PowerPoint should cover it nicely.
2) Dom has the same crazy old Volvo that my mom had. Is that a thing? I feel like this is the kind of thing that you’d see on Instagram with the caption “#sanfrancisco.”
3) It’s hard to tell where the show is trying to go with the storyline about the couple who experienced their first three-way. One of the guys seems to be slightly less okay with it than the other, which seems about right, but I worry that’s going to go all the way down that path and just be a cautionary tale. That would be lame.
4) It seems a little out of place that Dom’s douchey ex-boyfriend would have made it big in real estate. This is San Francisco—wouldn’t he have cashed out on some insane/idiotic photo-sharing startup?
5) Agustin and Frank kiss too much in their house. Nobody kisses that much around the house. If they do, I don’t want to know about it.
6) Jonathan Groff is a video game programmer, presumably he would know some slightly more intuitive ways to learn about gay uncut Latin cocks online than Google Image.
7) I have nothing negative to say about the appearance of Andrew Keenan-Bolger, a.k.a. “Crutchie” from Newsies, on this show. It was a delight. Him singing Wicked (badly) in the shower after getting railed by Dom was just icing on the cake.
8) I’ve never been on a Grindr assignation so I can’t evaluate that interaction, really. But it seems kind of joyful and intimate for a stranger date, no?
9) I don’t even know what Refresh Tea is. Is that a thing we have to know about now?
10) Cazwell is playing at the bar where Jonathan Groff and his date go to dance. This is both sad and accurate.
11) This line from Jonathan Groff was so self-aware and terrible it made me question the whole episode: “My friends think I’m this boy from Colorado who is fresh off the boat. But I’m not that guy! I like, I have had sex before. You know, I can do it. I will do it. I could do it right now in the toilet! You wanna dance? Maybe we should dance.”
12) This isn’t a gay thing, but I’ve had this debate a thousand times: “We should go out sometimes!” says one half of the couple, implying that the couple never goes out. “We can just stay in sometimes you know,” says the other half, implying that the couple is always going out. WHO IS RIGHT?
13) I tragically find Jonathan Groff’s dance moves to Erasure on the dance floor to be very, very accurate.
14) “I’m a sucker for cleanliness,” Jonathan Groff says in the midst of making out with Richie. You may think this has never been said in a gay hookup before, but you’d be wrong.
15) Even if Richie thought he and Jonathan Groff were “looking for different things,” it seems pretty wildly unrealistic to me that he would have left in the middle of a hookup like that.
16) Jonathan Groff has a mug from The Cock in the East Village. I did not know they distributed memorabilia! Other than scabies.
17) Jonathan Groff tells Agustin that he is eating a kale salad with chicken when he is in fact eating mac and cheese. The point of gay best friends is that you can be honest about what you eat with them. Lying about kale is for gay ENEMIES.