Looking, Ep. 1.02, “Looking for Uncut” puts only a foot in its mouth

Looking S01E02 promo pic

Looking S01E02 promo pic

Looking, Season 1, Episode 2: “Looking for Uncut”
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Written by Andrew Haigh
Airs Sundays at 10:30 PM on HBO

If Patrick was a little awkward on his date last week, in this episode he takes his nervous, spazzy outbursts to cringe-inducing, questionably racist new lows. Remember Richie, the sexy Latin doorman Patrick brushed off on MUNI? Patrick decides to date him, but only as a “fuck buddy” instead of  a potential “boyfriend”.

There are a lot of reasons for this. One is his assumption that a purely physical relationship will take the pressure off dating. This is a stupid assumption for Patrick, who so clearly wants to be thought of as a sexually confident player. Unfortunately nothing makes him more nervous than sex, or at least the idea of sex with a new dude, and he badly masks his jitters with inane blather and lots of alcohol.

Patrick’s putting Richie in the “fuck buddy” box also reflects his reluctance to connect with someone from a different race and supposed class. It’s as if Patrick has never actually spoken to a person of Mexican descent before this very night. Jonathan Groff’s theatricality as an actor works against him in these scenes. If the creators are hoping Patrick comes across as goofy, he reads more as crazy and willfully self-destructive. When Patrick finally has Richie in his bed, he happily recounts a racially ignorant conversation he had with his friends and even tells him about an ultimately misleading Google search for “Uncut Latin Cock”. This is a misreading of social queues bordering on autism, and the combination of heavy handed dialogue and slightly hammy acting strains credibility.

Speaking of broad characterizations, Dom goes to meet his real estate-selling, possibly homicidal ex, Ethan, at Starbucks. Ethan telegraphs his villainy immediately by ordering a “Refresh” – a sort of peppermint non-caffeinated tea that men like Ethan drink – and also some foodstuff called a “Protein Box”, two words that never should be uttered sequentially. One wonders what Dom ever saw in such a transparent douchebag, and instead or rooting for him the viewer can’t help but to question the intelligence of someone who lends a drug addict $8000 and expects to get it back eight years later. Especially when the recipient of his generosity is wearing a pink striped button down and won’t even pay for his own coffee. Dom was the most interesting character in the pilot, but in these scenes he comes across as a dupe.

Agustín, already the least fleshed out of the three main characters, has very little to do in this episode besides move to Oakland and argue with his boyfriend about hanging up an ugly collage of a copulating unicorn. This is what those in the biz call a C plot, and hopefully he’ll get more to do next week.

“Looking for Uncut” has some crackling dialogue (written by director Andrew Haigh) and lived-in performances (Lauren Weedman as Dom’s roommate is the early MVP), but much of the episode seems broader and less specific than the pilot.  Making Patrick so naïve and clueless is amusing in the short term, but it will be tough to root for him if he doesn’t begin to grow up. This episode deals almost exclusively with dating and sex, and this tight narrative focus will really limit the potential of the series if they don’t begin to explore other themes.  Hopefully the world of the show will continue to expand.

Other thoughts:

“I’ve been to Cabo though, does that count?”

“He’s so teeny. He’s a teeny tiny little gumdrop.”

“You do know that it takes more than $8000 to open a restaurant, right?”

Can we please put a moratorium on gay Golden Girls references for a while?

Even the Oakland-bound lanes on the Bay Bridge are way less pretty than the San Francisco-bound lanes.

Agustín’s boyfriend doesn’t even help him move in!

Patrick’s mom’s mac and cheese looks suspiciously like Kraft Shells.

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