The article below — part of a series of recaps for the new HBO series “Looking” — contains spoilers for “Looking For a Plus One” the March 2nd episode.
Alright, so I’m a little late on this recap. But why HBO decided they would move “Looking” out of the way of the Super Bowl and not the fucking Oscars is beyond me. And while I don’t even know what a Super Bowl really is, I most definitely watch the Oscars/am distracted by them for a 72 hour period surrounding them (as are probably a lot of people that watching “Looking”) — so let’s just say time management escaped me. Not out of lack of interest — it may once again top the ones that came before it. And if you so happen to care, I’ll make up for with next week’s season (but officially not series!) finale.
Let’s just focus on the serious meat of the episode: Patrick’s sister’s wedding, and how it let us meet Dana Murray (a perfectly cast Julia Duffy), his gloriously passive aggressive mother. Dom and Agustín were notably up to stuff too. Dom is rather endearingly freaking out about the pending debut of his pop up chicken restaurant — which results in him taking it out on sweet, sweet Lynn (you guys better make up!). Agustín is also freaking out about the art show he’s trying to put together through photos he took of his boyfriend Frank having sex with CJ, a sex worker. After Frank — who also bent over backwards to get him the show in the first place — finds out that Agustín paid CJ to have sex with him (even though Frank is paying currently paying his rent), Frank finally gives Agustín a small part of what he deserves to have coming to him and tells him to move the fuck out (you guys better not make up!).
But back to Mrs. Murray. When we meet her, she’s freaking out too. Over Skype to Patrick, about the traffic, how she’s lost her phone and — at least under the surface — about meeting Richie, who is set to become the first of Patrick’s boyfriend she’e ever met.
“We’re really excited to meet your friend,” she says rigidly. All of a sudden, Patrick makes a lot more sense.
Mrs. Murray never ends up meeting Richie, or “Richard” as she has decided to call him (“it’s not short for Richard?”). En route to the wedding, Richie makes his first real fuck up as a boyfriend. Things starts well. He shows up adorably clean shaven, trying to calm Patrick down from the stress of what is clearly an impending introduction he’s understandably not ready for. But when they get in the car, Patrick snaps at him amidst the stress, and Richie handles it poorly. He demands they pull over, and suggests he drive while Patrick smokes a joint and chills out in the passenger seat. A fine idea for many, but one Patrick fairly isn’t up for. Which sends Richie walking back over the Golden Gate Bridge in protest, abandoning Patrick in a moment where — for once — his behavior is quite justified (and then he doesn’t even pick up the phone when Patrick calls him later). Though that all said, it’s probably for the best.
Patrick arrives at the wedding with the excuse that Richie had food poisoning, and it’s immediately clear he has problematic and/or minimal relationships with all of his WASPy, cold family members. But the most interesting — isn’t it always — is the one he has with his mother. Dana Murray is clearly uncomfortable with Patrick being gay, but as with everything in “Looking,” its not quite so simple or one-sided.
In what’s in my opinion the best scene of the series so far, Patrick finds his mother outside on a balcony at the wedding. “The chicken was dry,” she intimately opens with. “Good thing you didn’t have the chicken.” But matters quickly turn from dry chicken of the alleged food poisoning of Richie:
Son: “I think you should be a little relieved. I don’t think you’d like him very much.”
Mother: “And how do you know that?”
Son: “Well, he’s Mexican, first of all.”
Son: “And he doesn’t really have any money.”
Mother: “Neither did your father when I met him. He was getting his Masters…”
Son: “Richie isn’t going to college anytime soon. He cuts hair at a shitty barber shop and he has no real ambition to do anything other than that and play the bass guitar.”
Mother: “Sounds like a real catch.”
Son: “I knew that’s how you feel.”
Well now, Patrick, isn’t that how you feel too? Dana really does a reasonable job handling this conversation (which is sooooo well written and acted), and suggestively has done the best she can in handling Patrick’s sexuality. Patrick has just never given her a chance to improve on her limited worldview (he never calls, as she points out, and isn’t even aware of her clinical depression). Sure, she’s fucked him up and handed down her classist, racist values to him. But Patrick has been obviously been using her as an excuse not to move beyond that — and Dana calls him out on it in a moment of sincerely exceptional parenting.
Now that “Looking” is officially set for season two, I can’t wait for more of Dana, who might not be anything near PFLAG’s parent of the year, but she’s not a caricature of homophobia either.
Oh, and another thing I have to mention regarding the wedding — and something that sets things up quite nicely for next weekend’s finale — is the unexpected attendance of Patrick’s boss Kevin, who absolutely represents the man Patrick thinks his mother would indeed approve of. Kevin somehow knows Patrick’s now brother-in-law, and after some mild flirting throughout the episode, they wind up drunk in the bathroom. Kevin complains his own boyfriend is being (and always is) a bad drunk (where as Kevin defines himself as a “nice drunk”), and then just fucking pounces on Patrick, and somehow: PATRICK RESISTS!? I guess the restraint of resisting a drunken Russell Tovey in a bathroom is admirable on a certain level, but come on, Patrick! This was a holy grail situation for any red-blooded gay man, no matter how much you resent that your mother would have wanted you to do it. YOU wanted to do it. Against our better judgement, we all would have done it too.