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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HBO's Looking Episode 5, Intimacies: Paddy and Richie

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

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  • HBO

I was beginning to wonder if I really liked this show. If, after my blogging about the first season ended, would I think about it? Did I really care about the characters? The plot? But then episode five happened, and quickly, everything has changed.

Episode five was cinematic. The auteur camera work and muted grey and green lens filter suddenly seemed appropriate, unlike previous weeks when I felt sort of like I was watching a Showtime gay soap opera through sepia tones.

The only characters this week were Paddy and Richie (Jonathan Groff and Raul Castillo), who met on MUNI on episode one. They are that critical juncture when you really like someone but still don't really know them, and of course have already had sex.

It begins with Paddy waking up with a still sleeping Richie, the intimacies of the night before having slowly floated up to the ceiling where they hang there, obvious but no longer palpable. Paddy wants to get out of there without waking him up, because, you know, that would be awkward and might require conversation. And since he likes him so much, if that conversation seems forced, or he gets the slightest hint that Richie regrets the night before and wants him to leave -- well that's another heartbreak. Better to scoot and think about things all day, sort out his feelings, and then wait for the inevitable 32-times-a-minute cellphone check to see if he'll call.

Paddy takes a shower in Richie's apartment and then opens his medicine cabinet to explore a bit, further underlying that they don't really know that much about each other yet. But then he hears it, Richie singing, and he does what any of us would do, curses and shakes his fist at the gods. Fuck, I will have to talk to him. He steels himself and goes out there, and Richie is relaxed and playing his bass, smiling.

They ease into a conversation, then making out. "I have to go to work," says Paddy, who clearly does not really want to. Those early-love hormones are coursing through him and he ends up doing what any sane person would do and calls out sick to spend the day with Richie. I don't remember ever seeing something so true to life on a TV show. The acting is the proverbial "superb," but it reminded me of so many experiences I have had... especially when, after a great day of cavorting and talking through Golden Gate Park, Paddy pushes the envelope by making fun of Richie's love of raw-egg fortune telling. For a moment, Richie is annoyed, and Paddy is oblivious to the boundary he is pressing and keeps going. This, gentle reader, will be a problem in the future. Mama always said, you can always tell all the issues you will end up having with someone from your first date. Mama was right.

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Katy St. Clair

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