7:53 pm - 02/20/2014

'Looking' Writers on 'the Minority Trap' and Being Called 'the B-word' (Boring)

In a panel discussion Tuesday, the HBO freshman dramedy's EP Michael Lannan and writing staff talked audience reception and alternative titles ("Homos" was on the table at one point).

While Nick Hall, vp comedy development at HBO, calls the overall reception to Looking "overwhelmingly positive," at a panel discussion, he did reference a few think pieces about the show that have emerged since its premiere, some of which have been "very scathing," including a Slate piece by J. Bryan Lowder. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the negative reactions come from gay viewers. "Our gay community is looking at us in a certain way," said JC Lee, a staff writer on the show. "That there is one view of gayness, and we're not meeting it."

One of the show's EPs, Michael Lannan, joined Hall, Lee and fellow staff writers John Hoffman and Tanya Saracho for Tuesday's panel, moderated by the WGA West's gay and lesbian writer committee chair Gary Goldstein. "It's a minority trap," continued Lee. "When you have a piece that showcases a community, there's this identity factor where if you're showing a certain kind of queerness, you're not honoring what queerness is. There's a sense their queerness feels threatened by a show that is normalizing it."

Members of the panel all placed emphasis on the style of their show (which has also faced criticism for being too slow-paced), a conscious decision on their part. They've heard the criticisms. "The B-word is what they keep calling us; you know, 'boring,' " said Saracho. "I would rather they hate it than call us boring."

From the decision to bring on writer-director Andrew Haigh of the quiet British drama Weekend, Lannan and his teamed acknowledged the style they wanted to create. "Not to be in defense of boring, but that is very intentional," Hoffman said. "I think that has become part of the show. [The episodes] do feel like little half-hour indie movies."

Lee emphasized truthfulness in the show's storytelling, an atmosphere that he said is created in the writers' room, where discussions about sexuality, race and their own personal stories (sometimes an "awful, trashy sex story," as Lee noted) make it into episode scripts. "You'll reveal your deepest, darkest secrets, and they end up in the show," Saracho said, laughing.

Saracho also noted the show's title was the very last one they came up with. Among the options were Homos and Golden Boys, before they landed on Looking, which they all agreed encapsulated the first season's main theme of each character looking to go outside of his comfort zone.

For Lannan, the biggest compliment was a story from castmember Jonathan Groff, when he watched Sunday's upcoming episode with his brother and sister-in-law and a moment made them both gasp. "It was a big moment because he said he'd never had his straight brother and sister-in-law invest in gay characters this way," Lannan said. "There are moments like that, which are really exciting to hear about."

Looking's seventh episode, "Looking in the Mirror," premieres Sunday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

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filmfreakfranco 21st-Feb-2014 01:38 am (UTC)
last weeks episode was honestly really good tbh
montag_heidi 21st-Feb-2014 01:58 am (UTC)
it was better than the ones before it but that ~long date where nothing happens and two people really get to know each other~ is kind of trite now but i guess its andrew haigh's thing
roxas39 21st-Feb-2014 01:38 am (UTC)
i would be happy if it were boring but it's just aimless...there's so much potential there. the characters are terrible, it's slow as hell and that whole instagram-feel of every shot is tiring. the lead character is 29 going on 17, and the rest are so throwaway that they literally don't exist without patrick.
ghostsaddle 21st-Feb-2014 01:46 am (UTC)
EXACTLY, so aimless
brogitsune 21st-Feb-2014 01:53 am (UTC)
lol the filters on the show are so fucking annoying. the whole thing is so trite and it pigeonholes itself
wetnasty 21st-Feb-2014 01:58 am (UTC)
thank you
kennyokb 21st-Feb-2014 02:18 am (UTC)
lloydsgurl 21st-Feb-2014 01:46 am (UTC)
o I thought the "b word" was going to be 'bad'...
wetnasty 21st-Feb-2014 01:59 am (UTC)
por que no los dos?
ghostsaddle 21st-Feb-2014 01:46 am (UTC)
good lord, i gave up on this show after the second episode
la_guillotine 21st-Feb-2014 01:46 am (UTC)
it's definitely a slow burner but I don't it boring...more of a quiet character study. I struggled to keep my eyes open in the first few episodes of True Detective, which are an hour long. 30 minutes actually feels too short for Looking.
150daysoffall 21st-Feb-2014 01:49 am (UTC)
I actually really like the show and last week's episode makes me feel like I want to be in love or whatever that was~. I wish it was longer.

youandeyeteewhy 21st-Feb-2014 01:52 am (UTC)
I like the show but it really is boring as fuck. And the main cast (with the exception of Dom, his roomie, that bearded guy's boyfriend, the blonde man-whore and Patrick's boss and ~boyfriend~) are borderline obnoxious and unlikeable.
drewy88 21st-Feb-2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
omg RIGHT?! The characters are SO unlikeable. How did they pull that off
youandeyeteewhy 21st-Feb-2014 07:41 pm (UTC)
I honestly thought it was just me, but every friend I have that has watched an episode or two likes the show just not the characters. It's such an odd thing.
hellicoptajuuce 21st-Feb-2014 01:52 am (UTC)
what is a minority trap? is it talking about POC or gay peep or poc in the gay community. imma guess it has nothing to do with poc
wetnasty 21st-Feb-2014 01:56 am (UTC)
idk but whatever it is, its pissing me off
itscomicrelief 21st-Feb-2014 01:57 am (UTC)
The minority trap has nothing to do with POC. Like the show.
cageyb 21st-Feb-2014 02:08 am (UTC)
if only it were possible to read the article and find out.
hellicoptajuuce 21st-Feb-2014 02:33 am (UTC)
i did.
p2bab 21st-Feb-2014 01:57 am (UTC)
I only like Richie.
morgan90 21st-Feb-2014 02:02 am (UTC)
This is why I'm waiting for the season to be over so I can marathon it, I get the sense that it works better as a whole rather than in fragmented episodes
abbie 21st-Feb-2014 02:02 am (UTC)
It is pretty boring and ... pointless. Like, I watched the first episode in full and then a few bits here and there every week and it's all just... mundane people having mundane conversations.
wonderwomanhero 21st-Feb-2014 02:05 am (UTC)
alexander2808 21st-Feb-2014 02:15 am (UTC)
the first episode was the worst tbh
sweet_heloise 21st-Feb-2014 02:04 am (UTC)
I guess I'm in the minority but I like this show. Dom and Richie are my favorites. Groff makes Patrick somewhat likable.
cageyb 21st-Feb-2014 02:09 am (UTC)
I'm growing to like it. I think it's finding it's footing.
la_guillotine 21st-Feb-2014 02:16 am (UTC)
they need to make Richie a permanent character tbh
alexander2808 21st-Feb-2014 02:25 am (UTC)
i can't blame people cos that first episode was horrid!!
hockeychick57 21st-Feb-2014 02:05 am (UTC)
i was kind of meh on this show until the last 2 episodes. i hope it doesn't get cancelled. i'm interested to see where it goes.
nohashtag 21st-Feb-2014 02:12 am (UTC)
Do something about the characters, then. It wouldn't matter much that it's 'boring' if the characters are at least interesting. But no, the characters are so... bland and doesn't really inspire any emotions.
capitalized 21st-Feb-2014 02:16 am (UTC)
it's not boring because it doesn't show cliche gay storylines... it's boring because hardly anything interesting happens. i wanted it to be like Girls in the way that there was at least humor involved in this "comedy". but it's just like watching paint dry. pretty paint.
stebo 22nd-Feb-2014 01:27 am (UTC)
It's boring because it took like 4 episodes for any shred of character development to occur.
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