Anyone complaining there hasn’t been enough explicit sex enough on “Looking” had their wishes granted with “Looking for the Future.” If that’s all you’ve been waiting for, however, you’d miss the point of this excellent installment of the Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannon series.
When we last left our hero, Patrick (Jonathan Groff), he’d decided to step away from a possible affair with his new boss (Russell Tovey). Instead he hangs out with his friend and accidentally runs into Richie (Raúl Castillo) at San Francisco’s legendary gay bar, The Stud. Patrick and Richie had what most would category as a terrible date earlier in the series and Patrick showed some courage by pretty much admitting he’d screwed up their first go around. We left them on the dancing floor getting close to one another as Sylvester’s seductive “I Need Somebody to Love Tonight” played in the background.
Cut to episode five and the first shot is both Richie and Patrick in bed together sleeping. Having some fun with what everyone expects from a one-night stand scenario, we watch as Patrick sheepishly grabs his clothes and escapes to the bathroom while Richie still sleeps. He cleans up, sweetens his breath by using some toothpaste with his fingers and gets ready to “escape” before Richie wakes up. That is until he hears the sound of a bass guitar being played in the bedroom. Richie is up and singing to him. And no, Patrick wasn’t trying to sneak out of a one night stand. This is the third night they’ve been together and he was trying to race to work, but on this day? He just can’t leave him.
What “Looking for the Future” so wonderfully captures is that moment in the beginning of a relationship where you stop to take a breath and really discover who that other person you’ve been hanging out with is. It’s not the first date where you each relay the same stories about yourselves you’ve repeated since you were 21. No, Patrick and Richie have had dinner, been cut with each other in bed and had sex, but they haven’t necessarily been intimate. There is a huge difference and “Future” takes them there as organically as you can in 30 minutes or less.
They discover things about each other sexually. They learn about former flames. They talk about family, whether they would want to get married and, yes, they end up pushing each others’ buttons a little. They also have a discussion on the context of gay sex within an relationship that’s rarely if ever been seen on American television (having purposely avoided most of the U.S. “Queer as Folk” series, it’s hard to say it’s never been on a cable or pay TV series before). It may shock some viewers, it may even make some uncomfortable (“bottom shame” may be trending on Twitter before we know it), but it’s real and the most authentic “Looking” has been to date. More importantly, for the first time we’re rooting for something on the show. If you don’t want Patrick and Richie to work out after this installment, well, this program may not be for you after all.
Haigh and Lannon collaborated on the script of this episode, but it really has Haigh’s touch all over it. “Looking for the Future” is the closest we’ve come in structure and style to Haigh’s award winning film “Weekend” partially because it only focuses on two characters discovering each other over a short time frame. “Looking” was unfairly tagged by many in the media as the gay “GIRLS” because of its time slot and format, but this episode is actually the closest the series has come to Lena Dunham’s creation. And it’s not because of the illicit sex (all off camera mind you), but Dunham’s creative choice to include a number of chapters in season 2 and this season that are self-contained. As it worked there, it works here (hint, hint for season 2 gentlemen).
One last thought, does this episode demonstrate that the series would be better just from Patrick’s point of view? Is trying to include story lines for Agustín and Dom’s characters just too much for what has turned out to be a half-hour drama as opposed to the dramedy many thought it would be? Personally, I find myself leaning in that direction.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Share your thoughts below.