Staff Reviews

Normalizing Gay Storytelling

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San Francisco's gay community meets modern naturalistic storytelling in Looking, a low-key HBO series about a trio of men figuring out their futures.

Jonathan Groff stars as hapless Patrick, a video game designer and romantic with a tendency for self-sabotaging his interactions with other men. He's joined by friends Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett), one "looking" to navigate the subtleties of his extant relationship, the other trying to figure out a career as middle age approaches.

Don't expect tight plotting or wild comedy. Looking is a patient, contemplative show, despite its mere 30-minute length. It makes adjacent comedy Girls seem downright zany in comparison. But its earnestness is unforced, and therefore watchable. It hits typical San Francisco markers like bathhouses and leather festivals, which may seem a little dated, but the show is blessedly free of anger or frustration about being gay. The characters' sexuality is as natural as the dialogue. -Scott Shackford