Saturday, January 30, 2021

Looking

TV Show Name:
 Looking
Year of Release: 2014, 2015
Creators: Michael Lannan
Directors: Andrew Haigh, Jamie Babbit, Ryan Fleck, Joe Swanberg, Craig Johnson
Stars: Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett, Frankie J. Alvarez, Lauren Weedman, Russell Tovey, Raul Castillo, Andrew Law, O-T Fagbenle, Daniel Franzese, Scott Bakula, Bashir Salahuddin, Joe Williamson, Chris Perfetti, T.J. Linnard, Matthew Risch, Amy York Rubin, Kelli Garner, Julia Duffy, Ann Magnuson, Scott Evans
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review: 
"Looking" made its debut on HBO in 2014, and it's a result of the marriage of the penmanship of its creator, Michael Lannan, and also of the fantastic Andrew Haigh, who is one of its main directors, producers and writers. Haigh of course is well know for his features "Weekend", "45 Years" and "Lean on Pete", all of which have been met with terrific reviews and an array of accolades. "Looking", during its two seasons, follows the entwined narrative of three gay best friends in San Francisco. The trio is comprised of Patrick, who is the center of the show, a young man originally from Denver, who works as a game designer. He's inexperienced when it comes to relationships, and during the course of the show's narrative, gets involved with Richie, a young stylist who is looking to fall in love, and not fall prey to the allure of the hookup. He also gets mixed with Kevin, a British expatriate, who turns out to be his boss, and who has a partner of his own. The trio is also comprised of Dom, who turns 40 during the narrative, and who we initially meet waiting on tables. He has a dream of starting his own restaurant, selling a Portuguese style of chicken. He has lived most of his adult life with his best friend, Doris, a nurse. Dom gets to experience some advice from an experienced man whom he dates for a while, though the relationship goes nowhere, whereas Doris meets someone who changes her life profoundly. The final axis of the trio is Agustin. He's a wannabe artist, who initially moves in with his longtime partner, but who perpetually sabotages himself, and the relationship, never allowing himself to move forward with his life. After almost destroying his life, he finds meaning and someone in Eddie, who forces him to face his own drama and fears. This microcosms of characters, and their entwined lives, navigate the challenging world of modern relationships, in a city with such a profound history regarding gay rights, as San Francisco obviously is.
What has always been a rewarding aspect about Andrew Haigh's work, aside from his beautiful stylistic approach to everything he captures, among many other admirable traits to his work, is of course, how he manages to capture relationships and intimacy between his characters. In all of his features, there's a profound sense of authenticity in the relationships he captures between the main characters, be it the central character in "Weekend", or the couple who has been married for quite some time in "45 Years". "Looking" falls under the same mantle. The show manages to capture the intimacy, camaraderie and sense of friendship shared by these three men (and to a certain extent, with Doris, when it comes to Dom's relationships), of different generations, all trying to cope with their views of the world and relationships. Though the narrative hits some clich├ęs in terms of dating in the time of apps, and cruising for instant satisfaction in clubs & bars, it's a show that aims to look beyond that superficiality, and allow for the characters to be closer to reality. What makes this show a rewarding watch, is ultimately how it portrays its characters with warmth and without judgement, demonstrating how flawed everyone ultimately is, and how they look to each other for support and make their lives better. The cast is filled with wonderful performances, particularly the ones from Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett, Lauren Weedman, Russell Tovey and Daniel Franzese, all of whom bring dimension and authenticity to what they're going through. The cinematography from Reed Morano on season 1 and Xavier Grobet on season 2 is impeccable, as is the score from David Stone Hamilton. A very good show worth watching.

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