Wedding episodes tend to be destinations for TV shows, not conduits from one stage of the narrative to another. At the outset of "Looking for Plus One," it seems like we're getting the former, with Patrick and Richie's new relationship facing its first big test at the white-bread wedding of Patrick's sister. Expectations are high, anxieties are plenty, Richie even shaved for the occasion. But Patrick is way too worked up, and after one freakout too many, Richie bails before they're even over the Golden Gate bridge. From there, the episode becomes an example of the latter, with in-flux Patrick running into Kevin, at which point dranks are dranked and Kevin plants one on Patrick in the bathroom. What did you do at your sister's wedding?
Meanwhile, Dom has a decent-sized freakout of his own, at Lynn, as the pressure builds as the Peri Peri opening looms. Also, Frank dumps the holy hell of of Agustin, because it was time.
Richie was right about it being way too early for Patrick to take him to a family wedding, right?
Joe: It certainly seems so when you look at how things turned out! I think that episode we spent with Patrick and Richie was supposed to have made us understand better why Patrick wanted to bring Richie to his family wedding so bad, but I found it more and more difficult to keep from stepping outside the situation and wondering just what Patrick could have been thinking. Meeting the parents is a stressful thing! So stressful that they made a movie and two sequels about it! Not that it doesn’t make sense from a narrative perspective, because it does. Patrick isn’t ready to confront his issues with needing to conform to his parents’ ideals, but he wants to be. Bad enough that he tries to drag Richie along and get everything over with, like ripping off a Band Aid. It’s not surprising that it went bad right there on the freeway, but it could have gone a lot worse if Richie had actually made it as far as the wedding.
Alex: The writers had a lot of fun here. This is that whole “kill your darlings” mentality of raising the stakes and having everything that can go wrong go wrong. That said, I’ve never had to procure a plus-one to a family wedding (yet). I’ve only been to one family member’s wedding (my brother’s), and I was in the wedding party, meaning that I didn’t have the pressure of inviting anyone to be my date. Do you think there’s some rule to go by?
Joe: I could pretend that the fact that I’ve never encountered such a situation is because neither of my sisters have gotten married yet, but I respect you all too much to front. However, were I to have a rule, it would probably be a minimum of six months together plus a previous meeting of the parents in less-stressful circumstances.
Alex: I say three months of dating but at least four meeting with the parents. Wedding are harsh environments. And Richie didn’t even make it to the wedding before bailing.
How many points from Gryffindor for Looking having Kevin be at the wedding?
Joe: The seams were definitely showing in this episode more than most. For a show that got such mileage out of its leisurely pacing, which delivered such a strong episode by letting one day in the life of Patrick and Richie place all other narrative concerns to the back-burner, this was the first episode where the show was clearly feeling the pressure of an impending finale.
Alex: I kinda felt that too. I see what you’re saying. It didn’t feel organic. It felt not unlike the tail end of this season of American Horror Story where all the stories were built up too fast and too furiously.
Joe: There’s only one more episode after this, and pieces needed to be moved into place. So Patrick and Richie reach a crisis point, and then Kevin shows up at the wedding for absolutely no justifiable reason.
Alex: You also have to remember that the show lost one of its beards this episode (read into that however you want). Beard down! Beard down! Richie shaved for Patrick AND still got dissed. This is where Richie and I differ. If that were me, and I made a huge facial hair decision, I would at least stick it out until the open bar.
What do we think about Patrick's family?
Alex: I actually liked their introduction because they really reflect the fact that Patrick isn’t a reliable narrator. All this time, we’ve heard how his mom and dad are jerks and well, they weren’t monsters. I think his chat with his mom was very revealing. It shows that it’s Patrick, not his parents, who really has problems with being gay or dating a Mexican hairdresser. Your thinks?
Joe: I mean, it’s not like he was inventing his parents’ uptightness out of whole cloth. Mom was pretty well dissatisfied with the state of that crab grass. But I liked how the show gave you a little of the Mom and Dad that Patrick had prepared you for, then layered in a good bit of humanity. I’m not wild about the use of pot as a shorthand for “cooler-than-expected old person,” a notion that’s both trite and incorrect, but I was kind of in love with the bit about Patrick not even knowing his mom’s on Lexapro. Call your moms, kids. Find out how they’re feeling.
Alex: Yes. Call your mom. Don’t be a dick. Ask your mom about Lexapro or The Good Wife. I’m not entire sure if the message of Patrick’s mom being into pot-laced baked goods was being “cool” or if it was a nod to Richie and maybe the fact that the two could have some things in common. Also, those aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
Joe: Honestly, my only real problem with Patrick’s family is that they cast the wonderful Kelli Garner as his sister and then gave her nothing interesting to do. That line about wanting Kevin and Michael to get engaged so she could go to a gay wedding was a revealing bit of character detail (I know that girl. You know that girl.), but Garner can do so much more. Here’s hoping this bit of casting puts her on HBO’s radar for future series.
Alex: That girl is awful. That girl should be set on fire.
How do Dom's work-related stresses compare to Agustin's? Do we find ourselves more willing to look past Dom acting like an ass under stress? Why is that?
Alex: I think we forgive Dom more because he’s getting things done. He’s not backing away from his “dream” like Agustin is, therefore you kinda give him more slack. Agustin is leaving so much scar tissue in his wake.
Joe: I admit I’m probably soft on the Agustin issue, just in that I think his downward spiral isn’t as unrelatable as a lot of us would like it to be. But obviously Dom is more sympathetic, and for the very reasons you stated. Plus, we have so much more investment in Dom/Lynn because we’re rooting for that relationship to happen, not watching it on the downward slope like Agustin and Frank. Honestly, I think we were all pretty happy when Frank dumped Agustin because: why wouldn’t he? We have almost no context of what’s good about their relationship.
Alex: If my boyfriend was going behind my back and paying a prostitute to sleep with me, I, at the very least, would expect him to let me eat spicy Cheetos. Also, if you relate with Frank of Frank and Agustin, I worry for you. Molly, you in danger girl.
"Love Shack"? That's an ironic commentary on the music that's been used in the series up until this point, right?
Alex: Do we want to give the sound editors that much credit? I cannot get on board with this. The B-52s are one of the best bands ever created. If including them was done with cynicism or irony, then this is no longer a show I can support.
Joe: Hey, fair enough, and I am a total “Love Shack” apologist besides. The music in this show—the end-credits choices in particular—has become such a strong and recognizable element, with its cool ‘80s choices, that the ultimate ‘80s wedding song felt like Looking doing Mom-and-Dad music their way. Plus, you know. Patrick’s tin roof does seem a bit rusted.