Agustin and Patrick look at Dom in HBO's Looking.

If You Loved Frank in HBO’s ‘The Last of Us,’ You MUST See Him in Another Acclaimed HBO Queer Drama

Even before streaming was much of a thing, it was unfortunately common for wonderful shows to gain traction, and then get swept away by the fanfare of other things in the moment. Sure, it wasn’t as common, or as frequent, but nonetheless, it’s what happened to HBO’s critically acclaimed series Looking. And if you were one of the many who shed a few thousand gallons weeping over episode 3 of The Last of Us, you really ought to give looking a try, because Murray Bartlett (who played Frank) is a leading character.

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Looking is primarily about three gay men in San Francisco, ranging from their late 20s to their late 30s. Bartlett plays Dom, a restauranteur who’s lived a comfortable bachelor lifestyle for years, but is starting to more earnestly seek stability in his life. The other protagonists, Dom’s friends, are Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez), a video game designer and an artist respectively who knew each other from college. The whole series is very “San Francisco,” in the sense that it reflects various different stages and eras of the city. Obviously, you can enjoy it without having a history with the city, but I’ve found that having such a history only made me enjoy it more.

Like many character-focused shows, the “plot” in Looking mainly revolves around their growth as individuals. Patrick wants a loving partner, yet finds himself unable to commit between the sweet barber Richie, or his charming boss Kevin. Agustin feels like his life is stagnating, which fuels his penchant for self-destructive habits. And Dom is determined to open his own restaurant, which may sound like the “least interesting” plot on paper, but his character is actually my favorite in large part thanks to how Bartlett shapes him.

While Patrick and Agustin are still largely figuring out how to live with themselves (the mid-20s/early-30s struggle), Dom knows who he is, which allows his character to be calm, magnetic, and incredibly easy to root for. He’s a supportive friend without doling out boring truisms, as he knows how to have a good time just as well as he knows when to slow down and check in. There’s just a compelling uniqueness to Dom’s character that’s hard to describe: at once he reminds me of some of the best people I’ve known, and of some of the most impressionable strangers I’ve only crossed paths with once.

But Dom (and Bartlett’s fantastic acting) aside, Looking is such a wonderful show that deserves more appreciation than it got. I feel like it attracted all this buzz initially, only to get left behind in favor of its peers (such as Girls and Game of Thrones). I suppose it makes sense, since its tone is fairly humble, but still, I want to try and get more people to watch it all the same. I haven’t even talked about Richie at any great length yet. Oh, sweet Richie. If Dom is my favorite character, Richie is a close second—I mean, come on, this scene alone:

“Pretty blue eyes drink two for one.” My heart. Wearing a Giants cap, no less. Go watch Looking, everyone.

(Featured Image: HBO)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).