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Looking, Ep. 1.07: “Looking for a Plus-One” feels like a step backwards

Looking, Ep. 1.07: “Looking for a Plus-One” feels like a step backwards


Looking, Season 1, Episode 7: “Looking for a Plus-One”
Directed by Jamie Babbit
Written by John Hoffman
Airs Sundays at 10:30 PM on HBO

After two promising episodes in a row, “Looking for a Plus-One” reverts back to some of the most egregious problems of previous weeks. The central event of this installment is Patrick’s sister’s wedding. Weddings are often petri dishes for latent resentments and issues families have with one another. Unfortunately we get little insight into the specifics of Patrick’s family, and don’t even get to see Richie interact with them.

At the episode’s start, both Patrick and Richie seem skittish about going to a family wedding as a couple. They want to play it cool, acting as if attending a wedding is the natural progression of having dated for only a few weeks. But they’re both obviously uncomfortable with the situation. The supposed reason for Richie’s last minute exit – a stupid fight about bringing pot to the wedding – is such an arbitrary and meaningless issue. Yes, Patrick overreacts to Richie bringing his little stash. But it’s pretty reasonable not to want a new boyfriend to smoke weed the first time he meets his family, especially if they are a little stuffy and conservative. So Richie taking such offense and bailing seems abrupt, as if he’s looking for any excuse not to go to the wedding. This feels out of character for Richie, who up until now has been extremely understanding of Patrick’s neuroses. Maybe his altercation with Agustín at Dom’s birthday, and Patrick’s terrible handling of the situation, really did put some serious doubts in his head about Patrick’s boyfriend potential.

Patrick has been ambivalent about their relationship from the beginning, almost completely due to the fact that he is unhealthily concerned with how his friends and family will react to Richie, the non-college-educated Mexican hairdresser. The issue of race, though obviously a problem for Agustín, seems completely unwarranted based on the conversation Patrick has with his mom. Even Richie’s lack of financial stability doesn’t seem to faze her. But every mother wants her child to find someone worthy of him, and after the way Patrick describes Richie – as having no ambition or direction – she has no choice but to believe that her son can do better.

But wouldn’t the episode have been so much more dramatically fruitful if Richie had gone to the wedding? Then the viewers would have seen Patrick’s family’s impressions of his new boyfriend, and Patrick would have had to assess his relationship based on Richie’s presence in this world rather than his absence. When a character missing from the action is the driving force in the story, the storytelling becomes extremely passive. We’re left with nothing but a random drunken kiss from surprise wedding guest Kevin and the totally predictable revelation that Patrick’s mom isn’t as anti-cannabis as expected.

Dom and Agustín move even further into the background in this penultimate episode of the season. Dom’s restaurant is magically ready to open after about two weeks of construction. He argues with Lynn about flowers and then continues preparing for the extremely unlikely peri peri craze of 2014. And Agustín, whose relationship with his boyfriend Frank has been the most underwritten part of the whole series, gets dumped because Frank didn’t know the guy Agustín brought home to photograph him having sex with was an expensive prostitute. Maybe there are other issues at play in that relationship, but the viewers of Looking sure aren’t privy to them.

The one interesting thing about Agustín is his fear of failure as an artist, which manifests itself in backing out of his photography show and a general lack of effort in his creative pursuits. This dearth of confidence, juxtaposed with his general bravado and eagerness to give Patrick relationship and career advice, is a recognizable and relatable trait, but Looking continues to only scratch the surface of this character.

Well, there’s only one more episode to go. HBO has officially greenlit a second season, so let’s hope next week’s finale pushes Patrick, Dom, and Agustín forward into places that help reveal their character and motivation. If not, the creators have quite a bit of work cut out for themselves.

Other thoughts:

Richie needs to grow back that facial hair.

Patrick’s dad really should have written a second draft of his wedding toast.

That b-roll of the Golden Gate Bridge was very The Room.

“Apparently the church gardener is being treated for prostate cancer, but it’s just going to look terrible in the pictures.”

“I fucked a guy on camera so that you could make art, does that not count for anything?”

“Ok, we’re gonna need some Swiffers.”