The first season of Looking, HBO’s attempt at showcasing modern gay life, came to a close this week much like it opened: with a little bit of sex, a little bit of character development and a lot of awkward eye-rolling behaviour. The show’s season finale doesn’t leave much on the table other than some sexual musical chairs and, when viewed as the potential series finale it could have been, it’s an episode that comes to a pretty laughable conclusion.
To fuck or not to fuck your boss
The main theme of this week’s show was clearly boss fucking. After being told by Richie he needed some space, Patrick feels a little sad, and for just cause. At work, Kevin apologizes for the drunken kiss, blaming the always foolproof excuse of “I was so wasted,” and Patrick shrugs it off as no big deal. Later on, Patrick gets called away from Dom’s restaurant by Kevin, in need of some assistance at work. When Patrick arrives, Kevin reveals that the request for help was a ruse and that he can’t stop thinking about Patrick despite having a boyfriend and that he’d like to “kiss the fuck” out of him. Patrick’s a little freaked out at first, but a few moments later Kevin is fucking him on the office furniture. So much for Patrick’s “maybe one day if you’re gentle” mentality. Also, I don’t buy Kevin’s super-aggressive interest in Patrick; it comes out of left field, for sure. The whole interaction seems kind of cheap and dismissible, primarily fuelled by the idea of the forbidden fruit that is employee/boss hookups. Patrick jokes earlier on about suing Kevin for sexual harassment after the kiss, but the reality is that’s the territory you walk into when you hook up at work, and this bang session is sure to make things a million times more awkward than a drunken kiss ever could.
Dom handles a similar situation with a little more grace. Everything is slowly turning out well at the pop-up restaurant except that his well-aged benefactor and business partner, Lynn, is nowhere to be seen. Eventually, he shows up with a younger bearded gentleman in tow, which clearly irks a smitten Dom. The whole night Lynn stays distant and the lovable Doris sticks up for Dom, telling Lynn that some kind words would mean a lot to Dom and that he’s “worth it.” Before Lynn leaves, Dom pulls him aside and asks what’s up. Lynn is dismissive and Dom questions him to find out if they can move forward with their business relationship. Lynn says it’s unlikely despite the night’s positive outcome, and Dom (I guess, because the way this plays out is more idealistic then realistic) takes this to mean that if they aren’t in business together they can date and he goes in for a make-out session.
It’s always a good idea to separate romance and work, especially if the person involved is your superior. A lesson Dom has learned and Patrick has not. It normally leads to drama, but I’m sure Looking will find a way to mute it past the point of being a thrilling plot device.
Who am I? A mess.
Both Patrick and Agustin go through a little personal existential crisis this episode. Agustin apologizes for being the worst boyfriend ever in classic Agustin smug fashion, then gets called out by Frank, who bitchily tells him that Agustin has no sense of identity and that his art is just the musings of a bored rich kid. In the episode’s best take-down, Frank slices into Agustin by saying, “Even if you ever do follow through with something, it will be mediocre at best; leave the key under the mat.” Hold for applause. Of course, Agustin’s response to Frank’s truth bomb is to down a bunch of ecstasy and take his pity party on the road. Whining abounds; he fishes for sympathy from everyone and pines for Patrick to return with him to the land before boyfriends where they had Golden Girls marathons. There were rumours this show was once to be called Golden Gays . . . that does not make these incessant Golden Girls references any less played out.
When Patrick comes home from his hookup with Kevin, he finds Richie waiting for him at his door. Richie apologizes for his issues around pride and explains how being disrespected sets him off. Richie points out that it all moved too fast and that he is so close to falling completely in love with Patrick, but he can’t if Patrick isn’t ready and he doesn’t think he is. This scene is probably the most touching of the whole series. Patrick seems to know Richie is dead right, as his only response is to exhaustedly weep.
Leave it to Richie to take the mature high road. Oftentimes someone you care about isn’t where you need them to be emotionally, and the most constructive and productive thing you can do is let them go and grow on their own. While Agustin would rather get high and make excuses, it seems Patrick might realize he has some serious work to do on himself before he can handle the work that comes with a relationship.
Thank you for being a friend?
The final minute of this season finale made me sigh a heavy sigh. The show tries hard to push the theme of friendship above all, but it forgets to back up with actions or show us people who actually seem like good friends. On Dom’s important opening night, Agustin shows up rolling on drugs and Patrick leaves ASAP when his boss comes calling. Both Agustin and Patrick are clueless to Dom’s hang-up on Lynn and generally just float by to do a pop-in at the pop-up for someone who is suppose to be their BFF.
After Patrick’s moment of realization with Richie, he comes into his apartment to find Agustin passed out in his bed hugging his computer. He smiles and curls up next to him and presses play on the computer, smiling as he watches . . . that’s right, an episode of Golden Girls. How dare they make me like Golden Girls less for being used as a lazy plot device? These guys aren’t particularly good friends to each other; the only one who really played the friend card well this episode, and for most of the series, is Doris.
These boys are certainly a part of the me generation. If Patrick just fucked up his work life and his relationship but the idea of snuggling up with his narcissistic, jobless, freeloading, passed-out friend who is coming down off drugs to watch Blanche get bitchy is enough to keep him smiling, he still has a lot of perspective to gain.
Here’s hoping next season fleshes out the friendships that are supposed to be the backbone of the show. Or maybe it will focus on the shallow and surface friendships these folks have and how it all falls apart when they aren’t distracted by men. They’ll probably just keep looking, but will you?