Last week I recapped the UK series Queer as Folk. The hit show featured a wealthy white man who slept with minors and abused his friends. Today I’ll look at a show it inspired: HBO’s Looking. The lead, Patrick Murray, was another handsome child of privilege. But he sabotaged every opportunity with his self-loathing motor mouth. Audiences were polarized. Think pieces were written. And the show was cancelled.
Patrick eventually grew up. But he asked a lot from viewers. I’ll attempt to summarize his journey in this spoiler filled recap.
Season One (2014)
Scene One: Dating
PATRICK (Anxious game designer): My ex is getting married. So, I tried cruising in the park. (Nervous giggle.) But I thought about my mother and got embarrassed. Then I joined OK Cupid and that’s how I met you.
BAD DATE: You’re stupid. (Leaves.)
RICHIE (A barber): You’re not so bad. Let’s go out.
PATRICK: I’ve never dated a poor. But you’re so charming!
RICHIE: Remember that. The writers won’t.
Scene Two: Friends
DOM (Mellow waiter): I’m trying to open a Peri-Peri chicken restaurant.
AGUSTIN (Rude artist): I’m thinking of becoming a sex worker.
DORIS (Snarky nurse): I’m hilarious.
PATRICK: Guys, we’re here to talk about me! (Nervous giggle.) Richie’s nice but I don’t respect him. I need to find someone who’s more in my league.
Scene Three: Work
KEVIN (Sketchy new boss): Thanks for working on a weekend. I’m trying to avoid my boyfriend.
PATRICK: Gosh no problem. (Nervous giggle.) I was just at the Folsom Street Fair but I got embarrassed because I’m not one of “those” gays who likes leather and hooking up. Have they no shame? I have shame. Lots of shame.
KEVIN: Your insecurity turns me on.
Scene Four: Sabotage
PATRICK: Let’s spend an episode talking about our feelings. It will be like the movie Weekend.
RICHIE: You talk a lot.
AGUSTIN: Patrick, is this the working-class stud you’re slumming with?
PATRICK: I’m not slumming! But I’d better clean him up before he meets my parents.
RICHIE: Go to hell. (Leaves.)
KEVIN: Patrick, you’re looking sad and vulnerable. It’s really hot. (Kevin kisses Patrick.)
Season Two (2015)
Scene Five: Outdoor Rave
AGUSTIN: Audiences didn’t like me so the writers made me nicer.
DOM: Audiences did like me but my restaurant plot is boring.
PATRICK: Well at least audiences like somebody on this show. I’m having an affair with my boss! (Nervous giggle.) He makes me feel sexy. And ashamed. But shame turns me on.
Scene Six: Halloween Party
AGUSTIN: Who are you dressed as?
PATRICK: (Drunk.) I’m Gordon Freeman from the Half Life games! Why doesn’t anyone recognize me!?
DOM: Patrick, calm down.
PATRICK: (Climbs on a chair.) Thank you all for coming to my party! Richie’s here with his new boyfriend Brady. Kevin’s here with the boyfriend he won’t leave. And Looking isn’t getting renewed for a third season! Are you happy now critics!? I’LL SEE YOU ALL IN HELL! (Patrick’s friends drag him from the room.)
Scene Seven: Condo
KEVIN: I’ve left my boyfriend. Let’s move into a condo.
PATRICK: Yes! My hetero-normative dreams are coming true!
GAY NEIGHBORS: Fresh meat! Fancy a foursome?
KEVIN: Sure. We’re open.
PATRICK: The hell we are. Just because I’m a homewrecker doesn’t mean I’m promiscuous. (Patrick leaves.)
The Movie (2016)
Scene Eight: Fan Service
EXPOSITION TWINK: You moved to Denver last year. What brings you back to San Francisco?
PATRICK: Agustin’s wedding. (Gives the Twink a rim job.)
DOM: I love how sexually confident you’ve become. (Makes out with Patrick.)
KEVIN: I bleached my hair when you left me, you coward. Half the audience wants us back together. But I’m moving to London. (Kisses Patrick goodbye.)
Scene Nine: Wedding Reception
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE TYNE DALY: Agustin and Eddie, I now pronounce you husband and husband!
BRADY (Richie’s drunken boyfriend.): Oh look. It’s Patrick. That self-loathing, hetero-normative idiot whose show got cancelled. Maybe this movie will give him the chance to ruin more lives.
PATRICK: Shut up Brady.
RICHIE: Yeah. Shut up Brady. (Brady storms off.)
PATRICK: Let’s get back together. I’m a better person now. I even give rim jobs.
RICHIE: I don’t trust you. Your character growth happened off screen. How long will it last?
PATRICK: It will last till the end of the series. In 3… 2… (Richie lays his head on Patrick’s shoulder.)
Lost and Found
Before the show came out, people had already decided whether they hate it or love it. I understand it, there’s so little gay representation on screen so there’s a lot of pressure on it.Writer and director Andrew Haigh
I enjoyed revisiting Looking. The coming-of-age arcs are easier to track on a series binge than in 30-minute installments. Season one is about self-destruction. Season two is about rebuilding. The movie provides much needed closure. If you can get through the cringier scenes you’re rewarded with smart writing, a skilled cast and lovely cinematography.
I still love Dom, Doris and Eddie. But I’ve grown to respect Patrick and Agustin. As for the romance? I preferred Kevin’s charm to Richie’s brooding. But if Patrick had more time he might have considered looking for a third option. There must be somebody else a handsome wealthy 31-year-old man could date in San Francisco.