5 February 2014 | ericj871
Straight or gay, Looking is worth a look
Lighten up: Looking is not a documentary and its characters may not be instantly relatable (or even terribly likable). But those are not necessarily shortcomings.
Viewers who relax and just let the show unfold will find they'll enjoy it more than if they spend every moment trying to find themselves on screen or divine some higher purpose from watching it.
It's well known that in gay online culture, "looking" means "I'm available for sex - now." Here, however, it means so much more.
These characters are really looking for fulfillment: through relationships, careers, self-expression, entrepreneurship, family and friendship. (Oh, yeah -- if that hot guy over there is down to play, so are they). But hooking up is not the central theme of this show despite the sexy come-on of the title.
This show is not Queer as Folk, Part II. While QaF's characters spent a lot of time wringing their hands over equality, acceptance and pride, Looking's whole approach to being gay has matured along with society and the audience. These characters are fully realized, assimilated and don't dwell on whether society accepts them.
The men of Looking are just too busy fiddling with their smart phones (cruising Grindr or Scruff, perhaps?) to waste any time navel-gazing over their sexual orientation. There's a post-gay sensibility about these characters (Yup; I'm a homo - so, what?) that is very refreshing. QaF often just waved a rainbow flag when its stories ran out of steam. Don't expect that to happen here.
Looking also avoids a pitfall about which gays have long griped: the over-use of stereotypical, "fem-acting" gay characters. Looking's guys range from pretty masculine to downright butch. Finally, here's a show that celebrates the fact that intimacy between men can be a hyper-masculine experience and deserves to be showcased as such. These dudes just enjoy getting frisky with other dudes. There's nothing sissy 'bout that.
It's also refreshing to see characters of different ages relating socially even though some might say this happens infrequently in the real world. Older characters may sheepishly refer to the "old days" while the younger characters pretend not to notice that their friends are, well, older.
As the series unfolds, I hope the show will explore inter-generational dating, open relationships, monogamy, celibacy, and also how many of these things can also take place within a marriage.
I also hope it will delve into the still-surprising "ordinariness" of what it is to be gay today, especially in a major city. Despite the good word of mouth, leading a gay life can often be less than fabulous. There's a fair amount of slogging away at work, paying taxes, taking out the trash, tending to family and mowing the lawn. Just ask around.
It would be easy to pigeonhole this as a "gay" show, but I hope heterosexual viewers will fall in love with its quirky characters and insights.
They'll discover that whether gay or straight, we're all more alike than many of us realize: People are generally horny, driven to succeed and need to feel loved. In short, we're all Looking.