Hello everyone, Manuel here to recap Looking's newest episodes. We took a little break last weekend since it was the Holy Night of Awards (may this be your daily reminder that Julianne Moore has an Oscar!) and so we’re back this week with two brand new episodes. And boy were they good! I’m actually happy I can talk about these two episodes in tandem. One a comedic showcase the other a dramatic detour, one a sprawling ensemble set-piece, the other an almost bottle-episode character-driven piece, they exemplify the strong work Haigh & co. have been doing this season.
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Manuel here to offer this week's Looking recap filtered through a decidedly ranty diatribe on LGBT representation.
I was looking for glimpses of the city that had formed me. I didn’t hold out hope that a Hollywood product would show me anything I recognized beyond a consumer gay culture satisfied with glossy representations as a sign of progress. - Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
I couldn't let this week's recap go by without addressing that New Inquiry piece published last week about Looking which opens with a Rent anecdote and that quote above.
Sycamore's framing tells us everything about what I've elsewhere called "the burden of representation"; notice that every sentence starts with an authoritative "I" that is supposed to function as both a composite of those "I"s that Looking and the homonormative gay industrial complex displaces but which nevertheless points us to an individuality that would (and does) refuse an acknowledgement from such a representational vantage point. There is no hope that mainstream representations would present anything Sycamore would recognize; this is both the foundational claim and foregone conclusion of the piece. [More...]
Manuel here, braving a sick day bringing you a short and sweet recap from this week's SanFran shenanigans. Even if this week’s episode of Looking hadn’t ended with one of my favorite college-throwback songs I overplayed during many a heartbreak (that entire EP is to die for!), “Looking Down the Road” would have easily become my favorite season 2 episode so far. I wish I weren't so indisposed otherwise I rattle off an endless valentine to this episode which saw itself resetting (or re-directing) our three main leads lives with Dom and Lynn's relationship seemingly at an end, Kevin and Patrick's affair finally buckling under its own platonic weight and Agustin landing a job alongside Eddie at the trans center.
Manuel, here learning more about how rugby is the filthiest, sexiest sport ever with the Looking boys.
Between getting tested last week (learning we don't test for HIV but for its effects on our bodies) and braving his self-consciousness to buy an enema in order to freshen up for his sleepover with Kevin, Jonathan Groff is slowly becoming a poster boy for healthy gay sex: "See how sex-positive I can be?" Patrick asks the pharmacist, only to be hilariously read to filth ("Oh, honey, do you know where you live?"). That shot of him ass up struck me as instantly iconic, one of those shots that will forever follow Groff in his hopefully lengthy career. I'm already looking forward to a photoshoot 10 or 20 years from now where he revisits it.
If the comments on last week's recap of Season 1 of Looking are any indication, what fascinates yours truly, Manuel, about the show is also the very thing that makes it so divisive. Disclaimer: what follows should in no way be taken as an apology for the show nor a glowing endorsement of it as "the best!" As I pointed out last week, there's room for improvement and Patrick & co. have great heights to scale before being able to sit alongside Don Draper, Selina Meyer, Valerie Cherish, Piper Chapman & Jane Rodriguez (my Top 5 shows for 2014).
The burden of representation. That's how I diagnosed what has fallen on Looking for the mere reason that it's one of the few shows openly about gay people men. As some of you pointed out in your comments, issues of entertainment value and overall quality depend on the fact that the show (whether intentionally or not) announces itself as a mirror. [More...]