3 min

Review: Looking Season 2, Episode 1

Looking for the promised land — a gay fairy forest rave

The boys of Looking go camping. Credit: HBO

Last year most folks didn’t think there was much hope for a second season of Looking, HBO’s “gay hipster life in San Francisco” answer to Girls. While Season 1 reviews were mixed and the ratings were lukewarm at best, HBO took the risk on a second season of the show anyway.

In a time when gay characters populate many major network shows, the notion of a show primarily about gay characters just isn’t as a revolutionary as it was when Queer as Folk debuted in 2000 on American cable. A show that is mainly about young, hip, big-city homos opens itself up to serious criticism because being gay just isn’t enough for today’s audiences, nor does the “young, urban” spin mean they can get away with bad writing. So despite my many problems with last season, I am keen to continue looking for something fresh and honest in the show.

“I think this weekend should be about us and not 200 naked homos crammed in a pool,” proclaims man-boy Patrick as he, the ever-pouty Agustín and well-aged bro Dom head off to a weekend cottage getaway at Dom’s older boyfriend Lynn’s cabin. Nobody listens to Patrick, and when fag hag Doris arrives, the board games get shoved aside for dirty queer parties and drugs in the forest, shocking nobody watching. 

Dom’s daddy issues

“Can you even call a 54-year-old man your boyfriend?” asks Dom, jokingly discussing his older-than-he-but-not-ancient boyfriend Lynn. The boys are crashing at Lynn’s place, and Dom is using it as an excuse to snoop in Lynn’s personal items. The apparent scandal around this May-December relationship isn’t really believable; if Dom was maybe 20 instead, sure, but I can’t see any gay guys really making that much of an issue of it. We do learn the pair are in an open relationship when Dom picks up a sexy friend who thinks a picture of Lynn is one of Dom’s dad. I wonder, though, if the open relationship thing is something Lynn is aware of. My guess: nope. That would be too responsible.

Awful Agustín still awful

Agustín is still insufferable, and his friends even agree he is better drunk and fun than sober and self-obssesed. This episode sees Agustín flirt with and befriend a young bear played by too-gay-to-function Mean Girls gay Daniel Franzese. Agustín learns his new friend works with LGBT homeless youth during a nighttime naked swim, and he also learns his new friend is HIV-positive. The next day Agustín recounts it to his friends describing his new mate as a big bear who actually cares about trans people and “has a house in Virginia.” That last bit, for those who don’t know, is a retro way to say someone is HIV-positive. If you can suggest a worse, more annoying, antiquated and sassy way to say someone is HIV-positive, then I’ll see you next Tuesday.

Patrick’s cheating heart

Patrick makes veiled references to not being a good boy in this episode, but it’s not until after an ecstasy-induced late-night forest phone call and fuck session against a tree that we find out he has been having frequent sex with his boss since we last saw the pair. I find this plot kind of unbelievable, given the character setup last season, and I look forward to seeing this fleshed out because essentially, I don’t really want to be invested in this working out for Patrick, who is stupid enough to be fucking his boss and is also destroying his LTR in the process.

Pro: In the realm of gay televison history, this episode gets points for featuring the first gay-fairy forest rave set to the music of Hercules and Love Affair. While it was a much more “club kids go camping” experience than your traditional queer, hippy commune freak-out, I’ll admit it seemed like something that would be fun. Plus it featured some classic bearded drag in the style of the Cockettes, which is something that can never be on TV often enough.

Con: When it comes to the worst moment in this episode, it’s a tie. It’s either Patrick nagging Agustín, proclaiming there’s more to life than just sex while he is literally hugging a cedar tree because Agustín pointed out that it would be good to get fucked against or Daniel Franzese gleefully yelling, “Come play with the big boys” as he chases the city boys’ canoe along the river. It seems these days pop culture appearances of bears require self-referencing sexual-category-specific puns and phrases that make the poor guys sound like a cult or just painfully obvious dolts. I don’t know any bears who introduce themselves by saying, “Hey, we’re bears. Come play with us bears. Did I mention we’re bears? Bears, bears, bears, we’re big and hairy, did you hear?”

Best line: “If he’s masturbating, just leave him. If he’s crying, come get me. If he’s doing both at the same time, you’re on your own.” — Patrick