Finding, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 23 2014 @ 1:10pm

Some other reactions to the new HBO series, Looking, which I reviewed yesterday. We’ll be airing your views soon as well. Eric Sasson calls it “the first truly post-DOMA show, luxuriating in the mundaneness of gay men’s lives without needing to dress them up in mainstream television’s usual tropes of same-sex marriage, gay parenting and ‘acceptance.” Emily Nussbaum reaches a similar conclusion. But many are not so impressed.  J. Bryan Lowder:

[Looking] is an almost unbearably boring television show. Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times and Rich Juzwiak of Gawker have said so directly, and more positive reviewers have still intimated as much. But the adjective, one I would normally consider critically lazy, is so apt in this case that repetition is warranted. Looking is so boring, so utterly flat in terms of narrative or characterization, so in need of occasional pauses in which to perform a few jumping jacks to bring one’s heart rate up to resting, that I would opt out entirely if we gay men—or at least gay male culture critics—weren’t contractually obliged to watch.

Mick Stingley was also bored:

Gays have largely been depicted in television and movies as either extremely fun and funny (Will and Grace; The Birdcage) or starkly sad and depressing (Philadelphia; Angels in America) so perhaps it’s time for a Hollywood portrayal of gay life as normal, tedious, and bland. Makes straight guys seem together and interesting by comparison, though. And if this show really takes off, prepare yourselves for a world of boring gay men who blend in and will probably talk to you about last night’s game and drink bourbon.

And that would be wrong because … ? Stingley’s throwback piece was updated with this note:

We apologize to anyone offended by our attempt at humor in this piece. It reflects one man’s viewing experience. He does not think all gay people are boring. Just this show, a little.

I have to say that I think, in this regard, the show is way ahead of this particular critic. In the first place, it doesn’t attempt to explain a gay show to straight readers.

It assumes we are all in the mix and that straight guys will understand – and even be diverted – by a simple dramedy about life, sex and love in a big city. Esquire is still obsessing over the gay-straight divide, while this show is past that. Equally, there’s Stingley’s dated attempt to insist that gay men really should be more fun, more super-thanks-for-asking, more witty and interesting than straight men. There’s this sentence that leaps out:

If this show really takes off, prepare yourselves for a world of boring gay men who blend in and will probably talk to you about last night’s game and drink bourbon.

For me, that is not a bug of this show, or of the gay rights movement. I have longed for the day when gay guys and straight guys can both talk about last night’s game over a bourbon, if they want to. Stingley sees the dawn of a new equality and yearns for the past. Looking looks directly into the face of the present and begins to imagine a future.