WHAT I WATCHED
|WORDS BY ZEON KANE|
It's the second episode of the second season of Looking, and after last week's
camping glamping trip, we're back in San Francisco. That's good. The city is the show's best asset.
Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Kevin's affair continues, moving from the office floor and the woods to its most appropriate venue, a sleazy motel. It's hard not to rail against them: Patrick is a privileged WASP, and Kevin (Russell Tovey) is English. They're like hot young versions of Bush and Blair. (Now there's a stomach-churning image.) But seriously, I can't help thinking about Patrick's hard done by ex Richie (Raul Castillo), the blue collar Latino and the only character who acquitted himself with some dignity in season one. But regardless of the rights and wrongs of their relationship, Patrick and Kevin are very sexy together. What's hotter is knowing that the actors are out gay men. I remarked to my boyfriend as we watched, "Do you think they're at it off-screen too?" That's the added frisson Looking gifts us.
Dom (Murray Bartlett) takes a back seat in this episode, although there's some awkwardness with his daddy Lynn (Scott Bakula) over their open relationship. That's not going to end well, is it?
Augustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) is back in the gutter (where he belongs) after getting trashed on drugs in the club. Privileged fags have that luxury, to get wasted and lay down in the gutter. (Or were we supposed to feel sorry for him?) Fortunately for Augustin, a decent blue collar guy came along to drag him up. Me, I wouldn't spit on the obnoxious bitch if he was on fire. But getting Augustin home meant getting him home to Patrick. Yes, it was Richie who found him drooling on the sidewalk, and so ensued an awkward reunion. Patrick was clearly gagging for it, Richie less so.
Richie's representation in Looking, and his fractious relationship with Augustin, is one of the most interesting, and important, aspects of the show. Rarely in gay media do we see any acknowledgement of class; race, yes, but rarely class. Looking tells us about a proud, blue collar Latino man, and the indulged Augustin, who only speaks español when he's trashed. (It's interesting that many in the black gay media took one look at Looking's cast photos, and wrote the show off as a "white show". In fact, in that first season, two of the six male leads were Latino, and one - Britain's own O.T. Fagbenle - black. Their loss.)
I was once told by a prominent gay playwright and activist not to talk about well-off, entitled gays, because that's how we're perceived by the wider world. But it's because well-off, entitled gays - like so many spoilt children in their exclusive city playgrounds - are most often seen and heard that we must stand up and say, "I'm not Augustin. I'm not Stephen Fry. I'm not the ghastly Ivan Massow." It's when we're silent that we end up locked out, and end up with movies full of college-educated trustafarians like the pretty people in Patrik Ian-Polk's The Skinny. Those characters might be black and Latino, but they're not an honest reflection of the lives of many black and Latino Americans, any more than those of their white counterparts in the likes of Queer As Folk are of white Americans.
Back to Looking's latest episode. Patrick was fretting over an unusual blemish on his torso, with writer Michael Lannan extracting every last drop of comedy value from our pretty WASP's AIDS paranoia. Can HIV ever be funny? Are we now post-AIDS? It was very funny, but it felt a little uncomfortable laughing at a hot young San Francisco bottom's (unfounded) fears about the plague.
Looking continues to go from strength to strength. If you didn't get it first time around, it's not too late. Don't miss out.