It's official. HBO has canceled Looking, a lovingly crafted and beautifully written show about a tight-knit group of friends looking for love and stability in San Francisco. It was subtle and low key and I think that's why it flew under the radar and even garnered an amazing amount of invective and derision from some viewers.
Now, my spouse and I watch a lot of pretty intense TV: Game of Thrones, Scandal, The Walking Dead, How to Get Away With Murder, Madame Secretary, The Americans.
But whatever the genre, we always look for memorable storytelling, and Looking always had strong stories, along with well-drawn characters and conflicts, wit and a wonderful take on friendship. I also appreciated the age range of the gay characters and the fact the everyone wasn't a gym stud.
The final scene in Season Two was a knockout, typifying everything that made the show special. Patrick had just had his brand-new fantasy world with his boss Kevin destroyed (or so he thought), and he ventured to his ex-boyfriend Ritchie's barber shop. The motor mouth who typically has to blurt out all his feelings before he's even fully felt them or understood them just wanted to sit. He didn't want to talk. And he asked Ritchie to cut his hair--which he never had before.
When they were together In Season One, Patrick's friends looked down on Ritchie's profession, and Ritchie was deeply and rightly offended. So now Patrick was honoring what Ritchie does. More than that, he was giving himself up to complete silence, and to Ritchie's care. There was healing and communion going on. And as one friend pointed out to me, there was an element of mourning there too.
I know a lot of viewers wouldn't see it or get it or care.
But I thought it was beautiful -- quietly beautiful -- which is why I consistently enjoyed the show. Even when the volume went up in arguments -- say, when best friends Dom and Doris fell out over money coming between then -- it was always pitched just right, never too high.
It wasn't hot and horny Queer as Folk and never meant to be. I thought of the show as a relatively cool, calm oasis on TV that I looked forward to returning to. Now it's gone.
Lev Raphael is the author of 25 books, including the Nick Hoffman mystery series. You can check them out on Amazon here.