Thanks to the ever gracious host of The Film Experience Nathaniel for letting me recap what ended up being a fantastic (if ill-fated and criminally underwatched) second season of Michael Lannam and Andrew Haigh’s HBO show Looking. Below you’ll find links to recaps of all 10 season 2 episodes:
Season 1 Recap: What it is that interests me about Looking is its rather transgressive indifference towards politics of representation. There’s transgression in the very banality that so characterized the show’s first season which, while climaxing with a wedding, a hook-up, a breakup and a pitch-perfect Golden Girls shout out, nevertheless seemed quite content in what Haigh & co. bill their show as: merely looking, observing really how these young able-bodied (and damn good-looking) gay men navigate their lives.
“Looking for the Promised Land“: The setup of letting all three characters run amok while on drugs in a party that’s equal parts 70s (that disco ball!) and 90s (the glow stick) highlights the way Agustin, Dom and Patrick cannot help but carry with them the gay history that has led to their lives being the premise of an HBO show.
“Looking for Results“: What does intimacy look like within a community that is still encumbered by secrets and closets, even as it prides itself on openness and honesty?
“Looking Top to Bottom“: 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.
“Looking Down the Road“: Can we talk about Looking‘s insistence on the thrillingly mundane details of the boys’ sexual history? There’s a frankness to the depiction (and discussion) of gay sex in the show that, while not breaking new ground, feels delightfully welcome especially as every sex scene this season has been used as a pointed pivot point.
“Looking for Truth“: Haigh’s show is not about oppositional queer politics but this is neither a new insight nor an indictment of it as a television show unless you see representation and visibility as its only raison-d’être.
“Looking for Gordon Freeman”: I loved that the entire episode was motivated by Patrick’s desire to be the “fun gay” a label that he hilariously explains by saying he wants to be a hashtag #instagay.
“Looking for a Plot“: Just like we might wish to categorize all the boys Looking offers us according to Patrick’s own card game categories, Doris as “the fag hag” works on screen because she inhabits and exceeds the stereotype.
“Looking for Glory“: Overall, it was a nice bridge episode which touched on prickly issues with enough wit and warmth to further cement my thoughts that this is one of the best shows on the air right now.
“Looking for Sanctuary“: Nat subs in for me and “naturally gets possibly his [and my!] least favorite episode of the season, one that felt not like filler but dramatic blueprints being slammed down in the writer’s room for Season 3.”
“Looking for Home“: As if in a fairy tale, Patrick bumbles his way into a tower with no exit where he’s asked to face demons both imagined and real about who he is and who he’s with.