HBO Continues Its Dominance in Alternative Content with Good “Looking” New Series By Kevin M. Thomas

Cast of HBO's Looking

HBO previewed its new series “Looking” at the Castro Theatre this week and it was well received by an audience of locals, filmmakers and supporters of the Frameline Film Festival, who hosted the event.

“Looking,” which premieres this Sunday at 10:30pm on HBO, is a loving tribute that showcases the beautiful city by the bay, which has been greatly missing from the screen since the “Tales of the City” mini-series ended.

While not always offering the picturesque postcard views of San Francisco, it certainly offers a nice alternative to what is often showcased in many Hollywood productions. “Looking” follows three close friends in seemingly real life adventures to locations that the GLBT community would patronize: Esta Noche, Badlands, Muni and even the Zuni Café.

Creator Michael Lannan obviously spent some time here and decided to keep the city as one of the shows stars as it was just as interesting to look at the locations as it was to follow the sexy comedy of friends looking for love and sex in a world of hook-ups and cybersex. Director of most of the show’s episodes Andrew Haigh also brings a skilled hand and focused vision to the show, adding compelling nuances such as he did in his Frameline film success “Weekend.”

The special Castro screening included the first two episodes of the witty comedy and obviously tries for the most broad appeal as it seems every archetype gay is represented. Lead Jonathan Groff, who is quite the opposite of his “Glee” character, is the smart, dependable nerdy guy whose awkwardness in attracting men is quite frankly his appeal and yet his demise as he overtalks himself into sticky situations.

Looking Cast members

Cast of HBO’s “Looking”: Frankie J. Alvarez, Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett

Cubby Frankie J. Alvarez is the creative one of the trio who moves to Oakland  and he will undoubtedly being the chew toy dream of every bear with his furry body and face and his character’s open-mindedness to try new things. He actually might be modeled a bit after the show’s creator as Lannan seems to exude fur appeal as well.

Australian Murray Bartlett seems to have completely lost his accent in his Dom character, who plays the slightly older man of the group, but like many of us, is still looking for more meaning in his life. He’s an actor familiar to the gay thanks to his wonderful work in the film “August,” from Frameline a few years ago.

All-in-all, “Looking” is a fresh and vital comedy that gives an honest and true depiction of life on the hunt – whether it be love, sex or career. HBO deserves special kudos for supporting the gay community and for always being a step ahead in its creations of alternative content.

If you recall, HBO might have been the first non-network to come up with original content when its first scripted series debuted over 30 years ago. They’ve come a long way and “Looking” is certainly reflective of its interest in progressive material.

Check out “Looking” at