Looking (TV series)

Looking is an American comedy-drama television series which ran on HBO from January 19, 2014, to July 23, 2016. Created by Michael Lannan and produced by David Marshall Grant, Sarah Condon, and Andrew Haigh, it stars Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett, Lauren Weedman, Russell Tovey, and Raúl Castillo. The show follows the experiences of three openly gay close friends living and loving in modern-day San Francisco.

Intertitle of the HBO series Looking.png
Created byMichael Lannan
Based onLorimer
by Michael Lannan
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes18 plus special (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Kat Landsberg
Production location(s)San Francisco
  • Jonathan Alberts
  • Andrew Dickler
Camera setupSingle
Running time30 minutes
86 minutes (2016 special)
Production company(s)Fair Harbor Productions
Original networkHBO
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio formatSurround
Original releaseJanuary 19, 2014 (2014-01-19) –
July 23, 2016 (2016-07-23)
External links

Looking was praised for its writing, direction, the performances of the ensemble and its fresh take on an LGBT-centric narrative. Despite its critical success, its ratings did not meet network expectations, with an average viewership of only 1.5 to 2 million viewers, which led the show's cancellation after its second season. HBO ordered a one-time special to serve as the series' finale. The finale special aired on July 23, 2016, in the U.S. on HBO and on August 2, 2016, in the UK on Sky Atlantic.[1] In 2019, The Guardian ranked Looking among the "100 Greatest TV shows of the 21st century".[2]


Patrick Murray, a 29-year-old video game designer, lives in San Francisco with his friends—aspiring restaurateur Dom and artist's assistant Agustín. Patrick has a tendency to be naïve and has been generally unlucky in love, but things in Patrick's life change upon meeting handsome yet humble Mission barber Richie and the arrival of his new boss, the attractive but partnered Kevin. Dom pursues his goal of opening his own restaurant with the support of his roommate, Doris, and the unexpected help of the successful and older San Francisco entrepreneur Lynn. Agustín struggles domesticating with his long-term boyfriend Frank and his stalling art career, as well as his penchant for recreational substance abuse.

The three men navigate life, relationships, family, and careers in modern-day San Francisco.

Cast and charactersEdit


  • Jonathan Groff as Patrick Murray, a 29-year-old[3] video game designer[4] who grew up in suburban Denver in a rather conservative family who initially had a hard time accepting his sexuality when he came out to them on Thanksgiving back in 2005 while in his second year of college.
  • Frankie J. Alvarez as Agustín Lanuez, 31,[3] an artist's assistant and Patrick's best friend since their college days at The University of California, Berkeley.[4] Agustín is originally from Coral Gables outside Miami, and grew up in an affluent Cuban American household from which he is estranged due to the emotional and physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic father as a child.
  • Murray Bartlett as Dom Basaluzzo, 39,[3] a sommelier in a gastronomic restaurant.[5] Dom was raised by a single father who died when Dom was in his early twenties.
  • Lauren Weedman[6] as Doris, Dom's best friend since their high school days in Modesto and former partner, who works as a nurse (season 2, recurring season 1). Doris grew up with a father who was very loving as well as a mother who was emotionally abusive due to mental illness.
  • Russell Tovey as Kevin Matheson, Patrick's boss, a "video-game wunderkind." Kevin has feelings for Patrick—though he is in a long-term relationship with Jon.[7] In season two, Kevin becomes Patrick's new love interest. (season 2, recurring season 1)
  • Raúl Castillo[6] as Ricardo "Richie" Donado Ventura,[8][9] a barber and Patrick's part-time romantic interest. (season 2, recurring season 1) Richie grew up in a large working class Mexican-American family in San Leandro just outside of San Francisco and is currently estranged from his father due to his father's refusal to accept his sexuality.



HBO ordered an eight-episode first season of Looking on May 14, 2013.[12] The pilot was written by Michael Lannan, based on Lannan's 2011 short film entitled Lorimer, and directed by Andrew Haigh. Filming began in the San Francisco Bay Area on September 16, 2013, and ended on November 7, 2013.[13] The first season premiered on January 19, 2014.[6][14][15]

Creator Michael Lannan announced in an interview in February 2014 that the writers were already thinking of new material for a second season, should it come. His comment was quickly backed up by Nick Hall, director of comedy for HBO, who stated that the "initial one airing audience" isn't their main goal and that they [HBO] "look at it for the week, we look at it On Demand, we look at HBO Go," and that each of the episodes were doing "nicely".[16]

On February 26, 2014, HBO announced that Looking was renewed for a second season.[17][18] The second season premiered on January 11, 2015.[19]

HBO cancelled the series after the second season citing the sharp decline in ratings. After the cancellation was announced, an online petition was started targeted at HBO to continue the series.[20] HBO eventually planned to air a special episode in the form of a movie to wrap up the storyline of the show.[21] Alvarez revealed in an interview with Vulture that filming was planned to start in September 2015 and that the length of the finale would be 2 hours.[22] The movie premiered on June 2, 2016 at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco and was eventually aired on July 23, 2016.[23][24]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 8 January 19, 2014 (2014-01-19) March 9, 2014 (2014-03-09)
2 10 January 11, 2015 (2015-01-11) March 22, 2015 (2015-03-22)
The Movie June 26, 2016 (Frameline Film Festival)
July 23, 2016 (HBO)


Critical responseEdit

Throughout its run Looking received critical acclaim who hailed it as a fresh take on gay themed drama and acclaimed the performances of its actors in particular of Groff and Tovey. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics gave the first season a positive review based on 37 reviews, with an average score of 7.6/10. The site's consensus states: "Funny without being obnoxious, Looking provides authentic situations that feel universal with its subtle details and top-notch performances."[25] On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season holds an average of 73% based on 27 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews.[26] The second season received an aggregate score of 77% on Metacritic and 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.[27][28]

Since Looking was announced it has been referred to by both the community and early critics as the "gay version" of Girls and Sex and the City. After watching the pilot, Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club said that "differences between the two series go beyond the surface"[29] and one of the show's lead actors, Jonathan Groff, went on to say that "to be in the same breath as those shows is exciting [...] but the tone and writing and the style of the show is very different. And people will notice that when they see it."[30]

Keith Uhlich, writing for the BBC, opined that Looking "is one of the most revolutionary depictions of gay life ever on TV – and that’s because it makes it totally ordinary."[31] Sonia Saraiya of Variety described the finale film as "moving and beautiful",[23] and Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter called it "essential viewing".[24]

In 2019, The Guardian ranked Looking amongst the "100 Greatest TV shows of the 21st century".[2]


Looking was reported to have debuted to a "slow start" by Variety with a premiere audience of 338,000, although it went on to gain an audience of 606,000 when the encore's ratings were included.[32] However, ratings improved as the season progressed. Ratings reached a series high in the sixth episode, attracting 519,000 viewers,[33] up by 50% compared to the premiere episode.[34] As of February 23, 2014, Looking has averaged 2 million weekly viewers.[33]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2014 4th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series Lauren Weedman Nominated
NALIP Awards Lupe Award for Breakthrough Performance Raúl Castillo Won
Imagen Awards Best Actor Raúl Castillo Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Frankie J. Alvarez Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Best Comedy Actor Jonathan Groff Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Actor in a Comedy Series Jonathan Groff Nominated
OUT100 TV Show of the Year Jonathan Groff
Murray Bartlett
Russell Tovey
Attitude Awards TV Show of the Year Looking Won
NewNowNext Awards Best New Television Series Looking Won
Best New Television Actor Jonathan Groff Won
2015 Dorian Awards LGBTQ TV Show of the Year Looking Nominated
Unsung TV Show of the Year Looking Nominated
TV Director of the Year Andrew Haigh Nominated
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Television Pilot Comedy Carmen Cuba
Nina Henninger
Bernard Telsey
Wittney Horton
Abbie Brady-Dalton
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Looking Nominated
Screen Nation Film and Television Awards Male Performance in TV O. T. Fagbenle Nominated
NAMIC Vision Awards Best Performance - Comedy Raúl Castillo Won
Frankie J. Alvarez Nominated
Imagen Awards Best Primetime Television Program - Drama Looking Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Raúl Castillo Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Best Comedy Actor Jonathan Groff Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Lauren Weedman Nominated
2016 Dorian Awards LGBTQ TV Show of the Year Looking Nominated
Unsung TV Show of the Year Looking Won
Wilde Artist of the Year Andrew Haigh Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Looking Nominated
2017 Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series Looking: The Movie Nominated


Looking premiered on HBO Canada at the same time as the United States, with Australia's Showcase premiering the series on January 20, 2014.[35] In New Zealand, SoHo premiered the series on January 23, 2014.[36] Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom and Ireland premiered it on January 27, 2014,[37] opening to 0.067 million viewers, with the highest rated episode attracting 0.129 million for episode three.[38] The second season premiered on February 5, 2015.[39] The series premiered on May 6, 2014 on M-Net in South Africa.


  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 25, 2015). "HBO's 'Looking' Gets Finale Special – No Season 3". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Seale, Jack (September 16, 2019). "The 100 best TV shows of the 21st century". guardian.com. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "About Looking". Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (February 8, 2013). "'Glee's' Jonathan Groff to Star in HBO Comedy Pilot (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (August 23, 2013). "Scott Bakula Joins HBO's Michael Lannan Dramedy Series, Now Titled 'Looking'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Bibel, Sara (December 13, 2013). "New Drama 'Looking' to Premiere January 19 on HBO". TV by the Numbers (Press release). Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  7. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (August 29, 2013). "Russell Tovey Joins Gay-Themed HBO Dramedy (season 2, recurring season 1)'Looking'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  8. ^ Castillo, Raúl (January 30, 2015). "A look at HBO's 'Looking' with Raúl Castillo". So Popular! (Interview). Interviewed by Janet Mock. New York: msnbc.
  9. ^ "Q&A with Raúl Castillo". Answers.com. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "Mean Girls' Daniel Franzese Lands Looking Role — Who Will He Court?". TVLine. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Looking Finds Season 2 Gigs for Crossbones Co-Star, Late Night Comic". TVLine. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 14, 2013). "Michael Lannan & Andrew Haigh's Gay Friends Dramedy Gets Series Order At HBO". Deadline Hollywood.
  13. ^ "Mission restaurant becomes set for new HBO series 'Looking'". Oakland, CA: KTVU-TV. October 22, 2013. Archived from the original on January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  14. ^ "HBO Sets Debut Dates For 'True Detective', 'Looking' & 'Girls' Season 3". Deadline Hollywood. October 16, 2013.
  15. ^ Ausiello, Michael (October 16, 2013). "HBO Announces Dates for Girls Season 3, Jonathan Groff's Gay Dramedy Looking". TV Line.
  16. ^ Hernandez, Greg (February 19, 2014). "Creator of HBO's Looking hopeful the gay dramedy will get a second season". Gay Star News. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (February 26, 2014). "'Looking' Renewed for Second Season by HBO". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  18. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (February 26, 2014). "HBO Renews Dramedy 'Looking' for Season 2". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  19. ^ Lash, Jolie (November 6, 2014). "'Looking' Second Season Premiere Date". AccessHollywood. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  20. ^ "HBO Cancels 'Looking'; Can A Petition Keep The LGBT Comedy On The Air?". ibtimes.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  21. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (March 25, 2015). "'Looking' Cancelled by HBO After Two Seasons, Special Final Episode to be Filmed". Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  22. ^ Rami, Trupti (April 7, 2015). "The Looking Wrap-Up Movie Will Film This Fall". Vulture. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  23. ^ a b Saraiya, Sonia (July 11, 2016). "TV Review: Looking: The Movie". Variety. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  24. ^ a b Frosch, Jon (July 23, 2016). "Looking: The Movie: Outfest Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  25. ^ "Looking". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  26. ^ "TV Show Releases by Score". Metacritic. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  27. ^ "Looking: Season 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  28. ^ "TV Show Releases by Score". Metacritic. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  29. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (January 17, 2014). "Looking reaches beyond simply being "the gay Girls"". The AV Club.
  30. ^ "Jonathan Groff & Raul Castillo: Is Looking The New Sex & The City?". Access Hollywood. January 16, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  31. ^ Uhlich, Keith. "Looking: A new way to break a TV taboo". www.bbc.com.
  32. ^ "HBO's 'Looking' Off to Slow Start; 'True Detective' Down Vs. Football". Variety. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  33. ^ a b O'Connell, Michael (February 25, 2014). "TV Ratings: HBO's 'True Detective' Is Averaging 10.9 Million Viewers". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  34. ^ "HBO's 'True Detective,' 'Looking' Uncover Series Highs Sunday". Variety. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  35. ^ "'Looking': EP1 Looking for Now". Showcase.
  36. ^ GayNZ.com Daily News staff (January 19, 2014). "New gay show coming to Sky's SoHo". GayNZ.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  37. ^ Drewett, Meg (December 16, 2013). "Jonathan Groff, Russell Tovey's Looking gets UK airdate". Digital Spy.
  38. ^ "Weekly Top 10". BARB. Archived from the original on July 18, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  39. ^ Munn, Patrick (January 21, 2015). "Sky Atlantic Sets UK Premiere Date For 'Looking' Season 2". TV Wise. Retrieved January 23, 2015.

External linksEdit