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Looking, Ep. 2.09: “Looking for Sanctuary” finds some relationships strengthening while others break

Looking, Ep. 2.09: “Looking for Sanctuary” finds some relationships strengthening while others break

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Looking, Season 2, Episode 9: “Looking for Sanctuary”
Directed by Craig Johnson
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Tanya Saracho
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO

By now it’s clear that Looking isn’t too interested in exploring the friendship between its main characters. Far more episodes of the show’s first two seasons, including last night’s “Looking for Sanctuary” have Patrick, Dom, and Agustin going off on their own romantic or personal adventures, each character in his own storyline. Occasionally the three of them will go out to lunch and update each other about what’s going on in their lives, or they’ll see each other at a party and introduce one another to a current boyfriend, but ultimately they lead separate lives. While this actually pretty realistic – thirty-something men with careers and relationships usually don’t spend every waking hour with their friends – it’s almost unprecedented in the world of episodic television.

Shows about groups of friends have always thrown those friends together in situations that cause conflict or humor regardless of how organically they come about. From Sex and the City to Melrose Place to Happy Endings, “pretty single people” TV has been about watching characters hang out with each other to some extent or another. Looking cares very little about the established rules of television, which isn’t too surprising since its staff comes from the worlds of indie film and theater, and this sometimes works to its benefit. But when a show is sold and advertised as one thing, and turns out to be quite another, it might take a while for viewers to get on its wavelength. And Looking is not really about friendship, except tangentially. It’s more about the personal growth and sometimes delayed emotional maturation of the modern gay man.

No one has matured more this season than Agustin, initially Looking’s most obviously damaged character. The last few episodes have had him negotiating the terms of his budding romance with Eddie. They’re both hesitant to jump into anything serious, but Agustin has been the one pushing for commitment, or at least the acknowledgement of a relationship. He really does tell Frank that Eddie is his “friend” because he’s not sure Eddie wants it to be anything more than that, and that’s the term with the least amount of baggage. When Eddie calls him on it, Agustin forces him to admit that he’s been sending out mixed signals, and whether it’s because of insecurity about his HIV status, or his weight, or being skeptical of Agustin’s intentions, he finally relents and concedes that they are in fact a couple.

Looking’s longest existing relationship is the 20 plus –year-old friendship between Dom and Doris, so when it ruptures, it’s painful to watch in a way that a fight between Patrick, Dom, and Agustin can never be. Dom is right that money often spoils friendships, but he acts like a child when Doris tells him he might not be seeing her inheritance for a few more months. Since she promised him the money, he’s been acting entitled, taking her generosity in stride and still expecting her to help him with the day to day minutia of getting his business off the ground. It’s like he assumes they are partners, her putting up the money and doing half of the work, him reaping whatever profits a Portuguese roast chicken window earns these days. Dom’s selfishness causes Doris to back away and stay with Malik for the time being. Now she has another support system and can disconnect from Dom when their relationship is becoming toxic.

While Agustin is slowly building a relationship with Eddie, and Doris might be stepping away from one with Dom, Patrick and Kevin decide to move in together after a month because they’re Patrick and Kevin, two impulsive little boys in men’s drag. Patrick’s mom is somewhat encouraging, mostly because of a new love in her life. She’s possibly leaving her husband for another man after decades of marriage. Patrick and Mrs. Murray might not approve of each other’s choices, but they have to be supportive or else risk being called a hypocrite. The one member of Patrick’s family who can speak her mind is Megan, Patrick’s sister and possibly the most evilly drawn character on television since the guy who ordered the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones. The thing with Megan is, though she says it in the most awful, hateful way, she’s not totally wrong. Gay men do get off the hook a bit with their parents about having kids, and sometimes their relationships are scrutinized a little less because they are by their very existence non-traditional and not held up to any historical template. The problem is Megan can have any type of life she wants, traditional, non-traditional, married, childless, whatever. Patrick, and all LGBT people, are going to rub some people the wrong way no matter what they do, so most try to at least make lives for themselves that gives them some happiness. Unfortunately for Patrick, the man who is making him happy right now is unlikely to be a good boyfriend in the long run.

Other thoughts:

Zoos are gross and weird, especially the San Francisco zoo.

Frank is a horrible person and Agustin is lucky to be rid of him.

Patrick’s mom is staying at the Fairmont, where I had my Senior Prom!

Patrick and Kevin’s new construction apartment/fancy mattress shopping is going to give more fuel to the Looking critics who think the show focuses too much on the affluent.

“Mom, I don’t think you should be feeding the animals.” “Honey, these are quinoa chips… from Whole Foods.”

“Isn’t it a little different when it’s two men Megan?”

“We’re a codependent mess. A fag and his hag.”