Second Look(ing) – HBO Drama Gets Second Season Pickup

Glad to report that HBO’s drama, Looking, focusing on three gay friends in San Francisco has been picked up for a second series. The seventh of the original eight half-hour episodes airs this weekend.


One of my favorite British imports, Russell Tovey, who plays Kevin in HBO’s Looking. He’s been upgraded to a series regular for the second series. The final two episodes in the first season begin airing March 2 in the US.|Image: HBO

I’ve become a real fan of this series after it had a pretty rocky start for me. I’m still of the opinion that the creators and HBO really screwed the opening. When they needed a home run — or at the very least a triple — they walked a guy. (Look at me with the baseball metaphors!)

That’s why it got the “boring” wrap. It wasn’t. It isn’t. It was just packaged incorrectly. The first two episodes needed to be one hour-long episode to hook people. There were no hooks in episode one. Some of us came back because we needed more gay content than just Will and Sonny — not that we don’t LOVE Will and Sonny, but you’d never get the equivalent of Looking Episode 5 on daytime!

Anyhow, even better, main character Patrick’s hottie Latino love interest, Raúl Castillo, his hunky English boss, Russell Tovey, and Dom’s hilarious roomie, Lauren Weedman, have all been upgraded to regulars for the new season.

Here’s a great piece, including an interview with series creator Michael Lannan, by Jim Halterman. I’m pretty much in agreement with Halterman’s assessments of the show.

Previous Looking Post … And the one before that.

Looking at ‘Looking’ Again: A New Look

We’re now halfway through the first season of eight episodes of the new HBO series Looking and I thought it was time to cast another critical eye in its direction.

The show has opened to mixed reviews, including a few that were downright hostile. And today, unlike a few years back, much of the audience has its own platforms on which to weigh in, as well. (Hi, howya doing?!) A lot of those unsolicited reviews and comments have bandied around this dreaded word: boring.

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Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff and Frankie J. Alvarez in Looking on HBO. |image: John P. Johnson

In my initial take, I did not use that word (you’re welcome), but I wasn’t overly positive, either. That was after one episode.

After the second episode I was not sure whether I was coming back for a third time. I did, though, and I was glad of it. I felt that Looking was beginning to find its footing in the third episode. It made me eager to come back for number four.

That episode, Looking for $220/Hour, did not disappoint. In addition to continued realistic and nuanced performances from all of the principals, Groff’s palpable tension with guest star Russell Tovey (someone whom American audiences have seen far too little of), a nuanced little turn from Scott Bakula and another utterly captivating taste of Lauren Weedman’s Doris, we saw a storyline pull together that had been set up in the previous episodes, but the strings were just revealed here.

A lesser series, I am sure, would have had Groff’s Patrick falling in bed — or into those office chairs that could have so easily doubled as sex swings — with Tovey’s Kevin instead of letting us feel Patrick’s rocky emotional footing during the “fried chicken” scene leading to a reunion with Richie (Raúl Castillo) that was both beautifully executed and sexy as hell without being overt.

Actually, I think the problem was in how the series was originally packaged. Often, I think Americans expect “more, more, more” and expect that more to be better. Of course, that’s not always the case. (Generally, it’s not, in fact.) I do think that a half-hour is the right length for these episodes, but I do think that packaging the first two together would have given the series a stronger basis to build upon. (And I would have re-written them a bit, too, but maybe that’s just me!)

Groff told Michelangelo Signorile that he believed in Looking more than anything else he’s been a part of. Good for him. I think he should. For whatever faults it has, this is an intelligent series. Smartly written and directed and chock-a-block with canny performers.

So, boring? No. Well done? Yes. Worth another look? Absolutely.

Russell Tovey: The Unlikely Lad

Russell Tovey: the unlikely lad | Television & radio | The Guardian.


The lovely Russell Tovey, a terrific actor who’s never been compelled to be “in.” He’s playing his first ever gay role this year. |Image: The Telegraph.

“I had loads of spots, but I went in and said, look, I want to play this part. Dakin [in The History Boys] was meant to be the lead, lothario, sex object, and nobody was going to lust after me, this spotty, pasty, big-eared thing. But Alan Bennett really liked me and he thought, well, he obviously wants a bigger part, so he wrote up the part of Rudge for me.” Tovey’s skin problem almost led to him quitting the production. “My skin was so bad, I thought, I just want to leave. It was really affecting me psychologically. You go into makeup and they’d paint each spot. It was self-esteem-crushing. Horrible.”

Great article in The Guardian.

I’ve loved Tovey since he was in the movie version of The History Boys. He’s done loads of movies and TV shows in the U.K. primarily since then. He’s signed on for HBO’s gay-themed dramedy Looking opposite another out actor, Jonathan Groff. The series, Tovey’s first major U.S. role, is set to begin shooting in the San Francisco area shortly.