With only a half-hour of time at their disposal, the writers of Looking aren’t allowed much space for subtlety or calm. They need to get these stories moving forward with little filler or fluff. For as much as I admire their economical storytelling, unless all three of the main characters are in the same place at the same time, you start to feel a little gypped.
I would have loved to have stayed a lot longer with Agustin and Eddie at the shelter, speaking to trans youth who are living on the streets. The experience obviously moved Agustin enough to want to take a job there, doing administrative work, but there would have been more time to bring further attention to the plight of these young people who were more than likely shunned by their families and left in potentially dangerous situations, even in a welcoming city like San Francisco.
And while we get some of the tension between Dom and Lynn—brought on by the sketchy boundaries of their open relationship, various issues surrounding the restaurant, and the often unfortunate way that older gay men are treated in a world that values youth and physical beauty—they’ve taken a back seat to Patrick and his romantic ups and downs. Again, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa does a fine job weaving all three storylines into a cohesive and involving half-hour of television. With more time, though, he could’ve gone much deeper.
Patrick’s story is, at least, taking some interesting twists and emotional turns right now. He still seems so naive, and willing to risk so much of his emotional well being just because he’s feeling wanted. That’s what makes the closing scene, with Patrick crestfallen as Kevin sneaks out of bed to go talk with his boyfriend, so much more heartbreaking. Running into the couple at the farmer’s market was bad enough. This seemed to break Patrick.
There’s also the issue with him trying to maintain some kind of friendship with Richie. You can tell that in his head, he thinks he’s being so very mature by keeping things platonic with his ex, no matter how discomforting it is for both of them. Yet, that desperation in his eyes is undeniable. It’s not just forgiveness that Patrick is looking for, he wants to be wanted by Richie. It makes you want to both hug the young lad and try to smack some sense into him. That, in almost all of these scenes, he’s on his own says everything. If he’s going to build any kind of thick emotional skin to deal with the slings and arrows of life and love, he’s going to have to stumble, fall, and get up again without the assistance of Agustin and Dom. You just have to pray that when Patrick reaches his nadir, the impact isn’t too great.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.