Looking (Sky Atlantic), TV review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 28 January 2014
On Sky Atlantic last night, we finally had a chance to see Looking, the new HBO series, which has inspired a deluge of internet comment, despite disappointingly low viewing figures on its US debut earlier this month.
Set in San Francisco, it's a Girls-like study of metropolitan dating, only instead of four affluent straight women in their twenties, it focuses on three affluent, gay men in their thirties: Paddy (Jonathan Groff), Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez ) and Dom (Murray Bartlett). The naturalistic visual style came courtesy of British film editor-turned-director Andrew Haigh who won several festival awards for his 2011 film Weekend.
Like any TV programme about an under-portrayed group, Looking will struggle with the burden of representation. Some critics have already dismissed it as a timid, sanitised version of gay life. Not being a thirtysomething gay man living in San Francisco, I'm not best placed to comment on that. I will note that this isn't an issue we'd have to worry about, if only Looking were one of several, varied representations of gay people on TV.
True, the "singles-have-fun-in-the-city" set-up is familiar, but it usually features straight women. Since most TV about gay men has been either coming-out stories or Aids epidemic sagas, this still felt fresh, and as attractively filmed, wittily scripted drama, it works for any audience.
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