The most common knock against Looking, the gorgeous HBO series about a trio of gay men stumbling through crises of love, work and friendship in current-day San Francisco, was that it was “boring.” Even those of us who loved it could understand. Unlike Orange Is the New Black, Game of Thrones or The Americans, for example, Looking wasn’t fodder for water-cooler debate or spoiler alerts. There were no spectacular set pieces, plot twists or crotch shots (love you, Lena Dunham). Rather, Looking was that rare thing in the world of even top-tier television: subtle.
Whereas precursor Queer as Folk wanted to make you gasp and giggle at its characters’ shenanigans, Looking was patient and nuanced, never seeming to strive for any particular audience reaction except perhaps wincing recognition. Flooded with flashier options, viewers shrugged and changed the channel; the show’s cancellation came as no surprise.
But the fact that HBO gave creators Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh the chance to punctuate their superb two-season run with an 85-minute “movie” suggests the network knew it was turning its back on something special. And while Looking: The Movie (premiering at Outfest before airing July 23) isn’t as astonishingly fine as Looking the series, there’s enough greatness in it to make fans (we’re out there!) agonize anew over the fact that, yes, this time it’s over for real.