Join us as we discuss the second episode of Looking.
So, did, you guys ummm ... know what “uncut” meant?
Alex: C’mon. I’m 31 and a homosexual. Next question.
Esther: I mean, I’m 23 and not a homosexual but I’ve seen that episode of Sex and the City in which Charlotte dates an uncut guy so...
Was "Looking for Uncut" boring, considering that seems to be the discussion du jour about Looking?
Esther: The episode certainly had way more in it than the first episode, and I did not think the first episode was boring. I think Looking, honestly, simply has a different pace than a lot of TV shows. It doesn’t aim to have big moments every episode.
Alex: There was a lot in this episode — Grindr was used, there was some man-on-man sex, there was “Defying Gravity”, an ex comes back, a really embarrassing date, and a move to Oakland. That’s a lot of stuff.
Esther: Don’t forget Patty’s recitation of the Golden Girls theme song, that was in there too. Do you think the show tried to “normalize” the gay experience here?
Alex: I think the show is trying hard to give us a different view of gay characters. Like the music — no Madonna, no Britney, no Beyonce — and the main characters’ personas — barely any snark, no mention of fashion, no RuPaul’s Drag Race catchphrases — cut against what we’ve seen of gay men on television and the portrayal of what a gay man’s pop cultural interests are. Patty quoting Golden Girls versus quoting Sex and the City kinda makes sense, right? Or am I reading too much into this? I feel like a terrible graduate school student.
Esther: Don’t Agustín and his boyfriend watch a fake version of Drag Race on a laptop?
Alex: They do (sorta)! But it feels like it’s still removed. Almost like these guys are too cool for Drag Race or SATC.
Esther: Think pieces make terrible grad students of us all. (“Graduate students are the worst.”) Though Golden Girls is generally accepted to be Sex and the City 1.0, right? It’s an older, milder reference. The show seems to go for mild references. I think also we have to just acknowledge the style of the show. It’s got an understated, indie film vibe going on.
Patty’s date vs. Dom’s hookup — which was more embarrassing?
Esther: I’m on team date. So it ended on a terrible note in private, but for the most part, Patty humiliated himself in front of an entire venue. His dancing? Awful.
Alex: I think the hookup. Dancing aside, no one was there to see Patty act an idiot in the bedroom, whereas Dom’s conquest had an audience for his rendition of "Defying Gravity." If that happened to Patty, he would have a meltdown and still be talking about it four episodes from now.
Esther: Yeah, but don’t you think Doris—as Dom’s roommate/BFF—doesn’t necessarily count as an audience? Plus, the internal humiliation Patty should be suffering from as a result of that date should trump all. (Side note: our “Defying Gravity” performer/Grindr hookup was performed by Broadway star Andrew Keenan-Bolger!)
Alex: Doris counts. Doris counts. I imagine that she’s seen stranger things crawl into Dom’s bedroom, but she counts. Do you think one of them (the date or the hookup) is more relatable than the other?
Esther: Well, being a straight woman, I can’t say I really identified with the Grindr hookup. I can, however, identify with the humiliation of trying super hard and failing miserably to impress and connect to a date. What about you?
Alex: Dates and their terribleness transcend sexuality. I’ve had the terrible pleasure of relating to Grindr (or Scruff) hookups and trying really hard on dates. I do wonder who that Grindr scene was for, because it’s really just well-worn territory for gay men.
So Patrick takes Richie home, after having worked himself into a lather about his prospective "uncut Mexican fuck buddy," then can't manage to hide his surprise when pants come off and Richie turns out to not be the exotic creature Patrick assumed. How do you think the whole “accidentally racist” plot was handled? Do you think Patty’s a jerk?
Esther: Well, yeah.
Alex: I will admit that on the first viewing of this, I absolutely loathed this plot line. I wanted to take this episode, light it on fire, bury it, wait for it to rise up from the dead, and then shoot it down with a shotgun. I was convinced that Patty was one of the worst people alive.
On the second viewing, I think he’s probably only in the top 200.
Esther: See, on first viewing, I read Patty’s actions as naive and drunk. His friends—Agustín, really—put this uncut idea in his head, and he just said out loud everything he should have kept to himself. Sorry for the Girls comparison here, but Patty is not Hannah Horvath. He’s maybe tone-deaf, but I don’t think it’s the show’s intention to paint him as a completely self-involved monster a la Hannah. Jonathan Groff and his performance charmed me from episode one, so initially I saw this awful moment as a result of a mix of nervousness and wastedness.
After discussing this with you, I think I may have let Patty off the hook a little bit. He’s 29. He should know better. He shouldn’t be excused for his casual racism. So maybe we ended up somewhere on the middle on this.
Alex: I think part of that is that I so want to be able to relate to these guys. And that’s a lot of pressure. But I also think that in the media and in pop culture, the only “gay experience” that we ever see comes from good-looking, affluent white guys. And this was another one of those.
It would’ve been nice if there was more attention given to Richie’s hurt feelings, or if the storyline was just Patty being into Latino guys. Instead, Patty’s ignorance is kinda given the “quirky” rom-com treatment instead of really hammering home that he might be a self-absorbed racist. But, I will say that it’s better than not addressing or going into that territory at all.
Esther: That makes sense, especially after the very beginning of the episode wherein Agustín totally objectifies Richie as a “cholo.” Also, I think—minor spoiler alert—we may see more of Richie’s side as things go on, but maybe that’s wishful thinking.
Can we talk about Erasure?
Alex: Oh, don’t think I haven’t already downloaded “Chains of Love.”
ALSO: Episode 3 of Looking has already gone up on HBO Go. It's airing on Saturday this week, due to the Super Bowl.