Looking, Season 2, Episode 10: “Looking for Home”
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Written by Andrew Haigh & John Hoffman
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO
All relationships involve compromises. No one is 100 percent compatible with his or her partner, and so there must be some give and take when building a life together. Typically, the big discussions – about having children, what city to live in, and, yes, whether to be completely monogamous – occur before a couple moves in together, but not so with Looking’s Patrick and Kevin. By this time, the show’s season (and probable series) finale, these two have accelerated the pace of their relationship for different reasons. Kevin needs an excuse to break up with John, and he would never have done so if there were the possibility of him being alone. Patrick wants to prove to himself (also his friends, family, and maybe most importantly, Richie) that he can be in a relationship that doesn’t end disastrously. So they both need each other at this point in their lives, but give not a moment of thought to what the relationship will look like a year, let alone ten or twenty years, down the road.
Of course Kevin is incapable of monogamy. At least he’s honest about it, until Patrick forces his hand and he tells Patrick what he wants to hear. The conversation they have while Patrick is unsuccessfully trying to leave their labyrinthine building is one of the most honest and nuanced bits of dialogue in Looking’s history. Kevin may or may not be looking to cheat right away, but he wants his probable future infidelity to not end his relationship with Patrick. Patrick, though his own past actions tell a different story, assumes that “being exclusive” means physically never touching another man. Though he cannot know if that’s a realistic goal even for himself, he surely knows that Kevin is not built for it. So Kevin is right when he says Patrick is just looking for a way to sabotage the relationship barely before it begins. If Patrick leaves, he can say that Kevin’s roving eye is to blame, and he gets to be the victim. And who does Patrick go running to after this all goes down? – Richie, the person in his life who’s most likely to tell Patrick to leave Kevin, to throw in the towel.
Looking’s second season improves upon its first by a fair amount. The show started without a clear purpose or tone. It thought just by being about a group of gay men, it would stand out and an audience would embrace it. But the initial episodes were unengaging because the characters weren’t yet fleshed out, and the beautiful camerawork wasn’t enough to overcome the often vague plotting and uninspired dialogue. Eventually, the show found its voice. Though it never fully explores the friendships between its main characters, at least the show now knows who they are. Patrick, especially, has come into his own this season. He started as a generic pretty boy and a half-hearted audience surrogate, but with the help of the writers and Jonathan Groff’s increasingly vanity free performance, Patrick has turned into an exasperating, neurotic, insecure, selfish, privileged, but totally realistic person. Much like Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath, Groff’s Patrick Murray is someone who the audience can laugh at and yell at and roll their eyes at. But most viewers of Looking have probably gotten drunk and said the wrong thing at a party, or thrown themselves into a new relationship for entirely the wrong reasons, or acted like an idiot in front of an ex or a friend. And that little bit of empathy, though it may not make Patrick lovable, at least makes him human.
Field of Dreams? Kevin is SUCH a bro.
If Looking doesn’t come back for a third season, it’s fitting that Patrick will forever live in a state of limbo between Kevin and Richie.
For a show that initially weathered so much criticism about its focus on the lives of upwardly mobile, white San Franciscans, there ended up being an admirable amount of diversity both in front of the camera and in the writer’s room.
Dom and Doris’s “break-up” scene was lovely, and it would be a fine place to leave both those characters.
I hope that Looking’s pitiful ratings don’t discourage TV execs from greenlighting other projects about LGBT characters.
“Look, everybody’s got the app on their phone. It’s what you do with it that matters.”
“All I can hear right now is that you want to fuck other people. And the reason you want to do that is cause I’m not enough.”
“When I was a kid I never thought in a million years I would live like this. Above everyone.”