As last year drew to a close, I had a tough time narrowing down my list of best television shows of the year. There were easily ten shows that had a realistic shot at the top five, but when the dust settled, I had to allow HBO's Looking to make the cut. Normally, my best-of lists are full of shows that bring a pure sense of joy into my life; it's a visceral decision. When it comes to Looking, though, joy is not the emotion it brings out in me. It's more a sense of connection. Though the show has its flaws, it's also full of the most relatable characters ever put on television. Relatable to me, anyway, which makes me deeply invested in their stories.

Those stories continued to deepen and grow in Season 2, which had scenes of painfully realistic romance and heartbreak and awkwardness and frustration. One of the things I like about Looking is that is doesn't wholly revolve around romantic relationships (be they long-term or casual hookups). It spends time on male/female friendships. It spends time on how your personal life and your professional life get intertwined. It spends time on familial relationships. Those who dismiss it as just "that gay show" should really check out remarkable episodes like "Looking for a Plot", in which Doris and Dom head back to their hometown of Modesto (with Patrick in tow) to attend Doris' father's funeral. Or "Looking for Sanctuary", which focuses on Patrick's family.

That's not to say the show shies away from gay drama, some of it truly cringe-inducing. In "Looking for Gordon Freeman", a boozy Patrick makes a speech at his Halloween party so embarrassing, I had to turn away from the screen. "Looking for Home", which serves as both the season and series finale, is almost entirely taken up by Kevin and Patrick's first real fight. Yes, series finale. Despite the entreaties from critics and the show's tiny fanbase, there will not be a season 3, although there's talk of a movie that will wrap everything up.

That bums me out, but I understand. The show definitely had its flaws, and was very divisive, to the point that half the people I talked to about it told me they just couldn't get into it. But the other half includes me, and that half found it a fascinating, romantic, sad, beautifully-shot show that we wish could have gone on longer.

Looking - Season 2: B+


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