“All the characters are from different socioeconomic backgrounds, different ethnicities — that can happen a lot more readily in the gay community,” Andrew Haigh says. “What you connect to initially is your sexuality, not your age or where you’ve been to school.” The characters in Looking, he says, are “not aspiring to be rich. They’re not aspiring to have lots of sex. They’re aspiring to have happier lives, more fulfilled lives.” In comparison to Girls, says Alvarez, who was doing regional theater in Louisville when he mailed in his audition tape, “our show is sweeter.”
Openly gay Australian actor Murray Bartlett plays Dom, their mutual friend, a well-built waiter edging on 40 who has dreams of opening his own restaurant. “Dom has coasted by on his looks,” says Bartlett, whose last major gig was on CBS’s daytime soap opera Guiding Light. “He’s at a point where he wants more depth in his life."
Looking begins with a graphic sexual encounter, but without the disco-thumping atmospherics that propelled Queer as Folk. “The very first scene of the pilot is me going out to the woods to get a hand job,” says Groff, simply but accurately summarizing a sequence in which the innocent Patrick goes cruising for the first time in a San Francisco park.
Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett & Jonathan Groff
“For me it’s not about, awkwardness, really,” Andrew Haigh says. “It’s that real life is... awkward, I suppose,” which sounds like an appropriately awkward response. “It’s the difference between people, the lack of clarity, all those things that make people gently butt up against each other — that’s what’s fascinating and sexy. It’s not about big conflict or high drama; it’s about all those little things in life that make us embarrassed or uncomfortable.”