Re: Looking, your email led me into a thought experiment– how would these themes (gay romance, relationships, ennui) have fared if they were shot in the now-defunct teen genre of “aspirational reality-based docu-soap” (thinking of Laguna Beach, the Hills– the shows that lack the overt Bravo-drama-camp factor).
What I mean to say is that I think the fucking homophobia that led to Looking’s cancellation (you didn’t put it this way, so allow me).. is maybe a two-part, interlocked phenomenon.
1) It’s kinda about HBO being the home of Looking. And HBO is by a long mile the most homogeneous, vanilla, and ergo “prestige-ious” channel. I honestly think aggressively homosocial Workaholics on Comedy Central or the overall social failures on Always Sunny (FXX) would make for better lead-ins for Looking than milquetoast HBO offerings.
2) its also kinda about the average age of the HBO viewer. I think 40-59 year olds are across the board the most garbage, conservative people in society (in spite of self-identified political leanings– they’re the ones at their personal peak of power [tm] and therefore they have the most to lose when other people gain [because for them, social gains are a zero sum game]; edit: I, too, will be 40+ in the not-very-distant future). I’m not on some “I believe Children Are Our Future” tip when I say that the queer affect from Looking is all over present-day MTV programming for the 13-24 year old set.
What if Looking had been on (largely now “POC”-oriented) VH1? I think it would have fared better. Not “best” but better. Am I naive for suggesting that cultivating an audience among those who are also marginalized– whose own experiences across the categories of gender, sex, race, class are similarly underrepresented on TV [not in the exact same way as Looking’s protagonists but in a way that shares a critical outsiders’ vantage point] would have made the difference?
Retrenchment on racial diversity has already begun. Deadline published the biggest piece of trash ever yesterday. chock full of quotes from insiders, on how there are too many “ethnic” quotas for talent now and that opportunities for “mainstream” actors are now unnaturally throttled, as if seeking a modicum of breadth has interfered with an Adam Smith invisible hand that doled out the [best] parts to the most deserving [white] actors.
I will miss Looking. I may not watch the special. I’d prefer to imagine that Richie’s hand just lingers in Patrick’s hair forever and that Dom’s chicken window still never actually yields a single piece of piri piri and that Eddie (beautiful, radical, bursting with life) outlives Augustin.