Monday, January 27, 2014

“Looking” Episode 2: Cautionary tales of the city

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge looking.jpg

The second episode of "Looking" addressed one of the main complaints I heard about the premiere -- it was much faster paced. So that's good, although it's still a fairly quiet show. I don't see that changing any time soon, nor do I think it needs to -- I like the more thoughtful look at contemporary gay life.

The main plots were: Agustin moved out of the apartment he shared Patrick and into a cohab scenario with boyfriend Frank -- but the new place is out in Oakland. Patrick had another awkward date, this time with sweet Richie, the guy he met on the bus last episode. And most importantly, Dom met with his Bad Idea Ex, who was even douchier than we could have imagined. That went poorly, and then Dom tried to fuck the pain away with a trick, introducing straight America to the sweaty joys of Grindr.

Agustin continues to be the show's weak link. I'm not even convinced the showrunners like him. This is a gay man who is embarrassed to hang a picture of a unicorn filled with cocks in his home. He even made it himself! You shifty artist hipster... He is basically now living the Miranda plotline from latter-day episodes of "Sex and the City" -- just substitute Oakland for Brooklyn -- and we can only pray that the season doesn't end with Anne Meara eating pizza out of a garbage can. If the show is trying to tell us that gay couples are boring unless they are having fuck times with other people, it is succeeding brilliantly.

I will say this for Agustin: he is quite the shit stirrer. Last week it was suggested that he's the one who encouraged Patrick to go cruising in the park. This week he's the reason Patrick went down the Google rabbit hole searching for info on uncut Latino penis (would a 29-year-old really be that oblivious to the circumcision spectrum?). I don't know if Agustin is intentionally messing with the kid, or trying to get him to expand his horizons, but the results thus far have been consistently mortifying.

So, let's talk about Patrick. My best friend and I were discussing the first episode -- which he hated -- and specifically how poorly Patrick is portrayed on the show. It's true that Patrick is a total mess, which we saw again this episode. I was physically cringing in almost every scene he shared with Richie. It's not that Patrick is a bad guy. But good lord, he is so socially awkward, so utterly inept at dating. I think this show should be required viewing for every 20something gay boy, because Patrick is a cautionary tale on what NOT to say. He has so little game, he makes Candyland look like Risk. He drinks too much on dates. He is overly flirty (at least he was with Richie; interesting to note the change in dynamics between this date and with asshole doctor last episode). He is beyond clumsy in his attempts to get physical. And worst, possibly a little bit racist. He even admits that himself.

And that is where the character, for me, is redeemable. Patrick is aware that he has no idea what he's doing. He knows he's got massive faults. And I honestly believe that most gay guys his age are probably closer to Patrick's personal brand of Hell than they are apart from it. Last episode Dom told Patrick that he needs to stop caring about what people think of him. What screwed up his situation with Richie? He was determined to screw around with him (to impress his friends/prove that he could) and he was obsessed with Richie's penis, which, again was planted in his head by his friend. This is the tragedy of Patrick, and I think with quite a lot of young gay men. They're so stuck on what everyone else is expecting of them that they really have no idea what they are actually looking for. The brief mentions of Patrick's family back in Colorado suggest to me that he comes from a conservative background, so his personality is crystallizing. It doesn't make it any easier to watch, but certainly more understandable. You eat that mac 'n' cheese after your disastrous date, Patrick! That is what you do!

And then there is Dom, who is basically the best. Last week a nation groaned, "Noooooo!" when Dom picked up the phone to call his ex, whom his faithful fruit fly (her name is apparently Doris, which I find hard to believe, as she is not 80 years old) warned was basically a human enema. This week we got to meet Mr. Fleet, and he was even worse than we could have imagined. Skin-crawlingly bad, right from his first appearance. Dom handled the whole scenario as best as he could, and it climaxed with him not getting back together with Real Estate Dick, but by demanding that this allegedly very-well-off d-bag repay the $8,000 Dom gave him years ago so that he could to rehab to kick his meth habit. Shocker: the jackass refused, and was condescending to boot. Poor Dom. Poor, brutally hot Dom.

Dom reacted to the whole awful scenario by doing what most gay men do when they're lonely/sad/depressed/frustrated: he went tricking. For those who don't know, Grindr is a smart-phone app for gay men that allows them to virtually cruise dudes in their immediate vicinity. It is used primarily for sex, although I've heard some people try to date with it, which is cute. So yes, you meet a guy on Grindr, you share pics, briefly discuss your sexual tastes, and if it's a match, within a half hour a perfect stranger is in your home, and you are having all the sex. This is a thing that really happens in gay world. Quite a bit, actually. I love that this show is exposing mainstream America to this stuff. I also love that it gave us Doris commenting on Dom's showtune-loving, shower-singing twink conquest. That was the best part of the episode. Show: more Doris. Give me all the Doris. Why do we not have a Grindr that matches lonely, fabulous gay men with lonely, fabulous straight women? We could call it Hagsville. Million-dollar idea!

Next: Patrick is presented with a job opportunity from Jack Harkness's old trick; Dom encounters Dr. Sam Backett in a sauna and they go on a hot-daddy time-travel adventure; Agustin and Frank argue over duvet covers in Bed Bath & Beyond. (I'm kidding; Agustin and Frank would never do anything that interesting.)

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