Arts & Entertainment
3 min

Review: Looking, Episode 4

Looking for $220/hour

Ratings for HBO’s new gay show, Looking, continue to drop. Credit: Screen shot

Well, four episodes in, ratings for HBO’s new gay show pretty much indicate it is something nobody was looking for. They keep dropping — and while the previous episode showed some promise, the latest is back in smug and shallow territory yet again.

Folsom blues

While Patrick and his boss, Kevin, are stuck at work together on a weekend, they bemoan the famous street festival occurring outside while they are trying to get some last-minute work done. In a hilarious moment, Patrick, once mystified by the uncut penis, makes a joke about getting electrocuted on a Catherine Wheel. Sometimes I like to imagine that Patrick is secretly someone’s slave boy and this whole shy thing is just a ruse. It’s no shock that typically vanilla Patrick points out Folsom is not really his kind of thing because, of course, he’s not that kind of guy. And as soon as Kevin runs off to go meet his boyfriend, who’s just flown into town, Patrick runs out to join Augustin and his friends wandering Folsom. But first they go shopping at a local kink store, where Patrick says what we’re all thinking when he is presented with a piece of leather attire: “I wish I could wear something like that and not give a shit.”

Patrick tries to wear a leather vest with a T-shirt underneath as his “leather casual” option before he eventually takes off the shirt and sports just the vest, showing off his cut physique. I have a hard time believing a guy with a body that nice would be so hard-pressed to take his shirt off in the middle of summer. Also, most of the sex-related “jokes” in this episode make everybody seem kind of anti-sex, but I’m not shocked by it, just bored. Ewwww, fisting is gross. Wow, so witty. Yawn. These guys seem like the kind of people who complain about gay clubs being all about shirtless dudes and they don’t really go, but then they go to Pride and take off their shirts, citing irony as their defence.

Why can’t we be friends?

Dom decides to follow up on his friendly hangout with his bathhouse buddy and flower-shop-owner Len by taking him out for dinner and a business pitch. Len teases him about the fact that the whole interaction seems to be very much like a date, which succeeds in making Dom feel very awkward. Meanwhile, Patrick is lambasted for having a fake relationship with his boss — whom he is told he is clearly hung up on. Eventually it becomes all business when both Dom and Patrick draw a line in terms of their interactions with their new friends. This brings up a big problem: nobody in this equation did anything that crossed a line. It was just gay guys trying to be friends with other gay guys. The way this played out makes it seem like it was some kind of personal victory for Patrick and Len to draw the line, but it comes across as implying that gay guys who would be attracted to each other can’t also be friends. Screw that.

Everyone’s least favourite Looking character, Augustin, doesn’t let us down in this episode. Looking to satiate his painfully insincere curiosity about CJ, the hustler he met in a coffee shop, he tracks him down at the booth at Folsom and offers to take him out for lunch, on Patrick’s dime, of course. Over street food, Augustin waxes philosophical with dude-ly CJ, asking questions like “What do most people want?” and saying outlandishly moronic things like “You know these guys more than anybody” and “You’re like a therapist.” While sex work can sometimes be as deep an experience as Augustin hopes, we don’t get that vibe from this surfer-boy sex worker.

Augustin then asks CJ to be a part of his art project, even though he doesn’t really know what it is yet. CJ clearly doesn’t give a shit and reminds him that if he just wants to fuck him he should say so — and his fee is $220 an hour, no matter what they do. CJ also feeds faux-vegetarian Augustin some sausage that gives him the shits. Augustin’s smug verbal diarrhea and totally painful fixation on a hustler is just one of many things about this episode that gives me indigestion.

The episode ends with Patrick running into Richie, the sexy Latin doorboy, at a bar. Richie had been ignoring Patrick’s texts since their bad date, but Patrick gets up the courage to half-ass apologize for being a racist dick to him by saying something along the lines of “I’m not really that kind of guy; that wasn’t me the other night.” It would have been nice to see Patrick take some responsibility for his own actions, but I guess his shitty apology was enough for Richie to forgive him and grind up on him. Here’s hoping Richie doesn’t expect much from the babbling silly white boy. I don’t think it will end well for this coupling. 

Matt Thomas reviews Looking on Daily Xtra — read reviews for Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3