Having more in common with acclaimed romantic hangout dramas like Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy and Andrew Haigh’s 2011 film “Weekend” than a soapier 2SLGBTQ+ landmark series such as “Queer as Folk” (not that there’s anything wrong with being soapy), “Looking” never really seemed all that invested in presenting itself as appointment TV. And while that probably hurt its ratings in the long run, those who did tune in to watch it week after week, like yours truly, were able to deeply engage with the show’s profoundly subtle character work and gently captivating drama. That and the parade of charismatic character actors playing love interests for the leads, including Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap”), Bashir Salahuddin (“GLOW”), and Daniel Franzese (“Conviction”).
After two seasons, “Looking” wrapped up with the 85-minute “Looking: The Movie” on HBO in 2016. As you would expect, the film was equivalent to a truncated version of what a third season might’ve entailed, yet it still managed to bring a greater sense of closure to the show’s dangling plot threads. Although, as was also the case with the network’s “Deadwood,” the series proper ended on an unexpectedly perfect note, which made the subsequent movie more of a touching epilogue than an absolutely vital piece of the greater storytelling puzzle.
Looking back, I would venture so far as to say “Looking” helped me navigate my own existential uncertainty as a queer 30-something, and the relatively open-ended nature of its conclusion was a major part of that and felt true to the show’s defining ethos. Just as our lives never stop changing, we never truly stop “looking” for a better peace of mind or sense of purpose. But with the right people by our sides, we might just find the path we need to move forward.