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Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast

HBO’s critically acclaimed show about modern-day gay life in San Francisco ran from January 19, 2014, to July 23, 2016…

By Matthew Creith

It’s been 10 years since the iconic but short-lived gay television series Looking first premiered on HBO. July marks the anniversary of the conclusion of the series from All of Us Strangers director Andrew Haigh after two seasons and a TV movie…

Looking debuted 10 years ago on January 19, 2014. Yes, you read that correctly. Ten years have passed since Patrick and company stormed the streets of San Francisco to give the gay community a bit of modern-day romance and friendship and highlight the struggles still felt by a population seeking acceptance. However, Andrew Haigh’s televised fictional study of gay male relationships holds to its initial concept, mainly due to the attention paid to the characters and, subsequently, the actors who embodied them.

I recently rewatched Looking, the first time I had revisited the show since the second season was cancelled in 2015 and Looking: The Movie premiered in 2016. Before Looking premiered, I was deeply in the closet and unsure of who I was as a person. Actually, I knew who I was, but I simply couldn’t admit it to the world. Then, this weirdly grounded series came into my life, and I found myself waiting for new episodes to release while I consumed gay culture via a television screen rather than experiencing it in the outside world for myself.

I immediately took to the Patrick character, played perfectly by Tony-nominated actor Jonathan Groff. Patrick’s innocence and aw-shucks attitude towards life mirrored my own, not to mention his undying support and love for his friends Dom (Murray Bartlett), Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Doris (Lauren Weedman). It was the first time I had ever watched a television series devoted to making sure gay men were represented realistically, at least by the standards I envisioned for myself when I would eventually come out.

By the time the series left prime time in July 2016, I had a boyfriend and had come out to everyone I knew…to great success, I might add. That’s not an accident. Looking made it possible for someone like me to see himself on television, something previous shows like Will & Grace and Queer as Folk hadn’t. It’s because of how real these characters were, many of whom were similar to my age at the time, and the familial bond they formed that helped give me the strength to be true to myself.

I highly doubt I am the only one. 

As we find ourselves celebrating Pride Month, in addition to the anniversary of when Looking went off the air, here is a list of the unbelievably talented actors who graced the small screen in defence of changing tides. Many of them have gone on to become household names:

Jonathan Groff

Why Are We Still 'Looking' 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Jonathan Groff

A Tony nominee well-liked for his Broadway performance in Spring Awakening, Jonathan Groff had made his mark in television as the competitive Jesse St. James in Ryan Murphy’s Glee. Taking to more adult roles, Groff took charge of his career and was cast in Looking as the lead character, Patrick, a buttoned-up video game designer looking for love in all the right and wrong places. Tied to the friendships he’s made in his adopted city of San Francisco, Patrick falls in and out of lust for his boss, Kevin (Russell Tovey). In the meantime, he establishes a romantic relationship with barber Richie (Raúl Castillo) after they meet on the bus.

Groff’s talent has not gone unnoticed. While working on Looking, he continued to shine on Broadway, film, and other television shows, solidifying his position as one of the most sought-after performers. His roles in the megahit animated film Frozen and its triumphant sequel, his Tony-nominated performance as King George III in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, and his co-starring role on the Netflix FBI crime drama Mindhunter are all testaments to his success and recognition in the industry.

The out actor was recently nominated for a Tony Award yet again for his performance alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Merrily We Roll Along, a Stephen Sondheim musical.

Murray Bartlett

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Murray Bartlett
LOOKING Season 2 Day 01

“The girth from Perth,” as future co-star Nick Offerman would refer to him, out actor Murray Bartlett had made waves in his native Australia before trying his talents on American television. He portrayed Dom Basaluzzo in Looking, an older and more experienced gay man destined to become a restaurant owner while attempting relationships with men his age and younger. Often looked upon by his friends as a guide through gay adulthood, Dom represents aging within the gay community.

Bartlett provided a realistic portrayal of emotional depth in Looking before he starred in the first season of Mike White’s fantastic The White Lotus as a hotel manager at a Hawaiian resort who hates his job and everyone around him. His work on The White Lotus springboarded the former character actor to international acclaim, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for his performance. This has so far taken him to other television projects, including recent appearances on Hulu’s limited series Welcome to Chippendales and the post-apocalyptic series The Last of Us, leading an episode alongside the aforementioned Nick Offerman.

Bartlett will next be seen in the ensemble horror film Opus, co-starring Ayo Edebiri and John Malkovich.

Frankie J. Alvarez

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Frankie J. Alvarez

One of the more exciting and frustrating characters in Looking, wannabe artist and Patrick’s best friend, Agustín, is portrayed in the series by Frankie J. Alvarez. Though Agustín’s contentious relationship with drugs, alcohol and sex made him a unique character within the world of the show, Alvarez gave him room to grow, especially in the second season. His interest in threesomes ruined his relationship with Frank (O-T Fagbenle), and his drive to be closer to an HIV+ love interest (Daniel Franzese) made Agustín fascinated with helping LGBTQ+ youth. You never knew where Agustín would land, but you knew it would be somewhere adventurous.

Alvarez attended Juilliard before his time on Looking, and has since appeared in everything from Madam Secretary to The Blacklist. A tireless theatre performer, Alvarez has worked on the stage in productions like Death of a Salesmanand, most recently, in Wet Brain off-Broadway.

Russell Tovey

Why Are We Still 'Looking' 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast - Russell Tovey

Out actor Russell Tovey was introduced to American audiences – and seeped into many gay men’s obsessions – when he debuted on Looking as Patrick’s handsome boss, Kevin, in the first season. Though the two characters met while flirting at a party and playing video games, Kevin and Patrick’s professional endeavours ushered in some of the show’s steamiest sex scenes as they crossed personal boundaries. Though Kevin is in a long-term relationship when we are introduced to him in Season 1, he becomes Patrick’s love interest by the second season.

Tovey had worked steadily for years, both in his native Britain and on American television, before audiences really got to know him through Looking. He starred in films like The History Boys and Pride while cultivating a persona on television in shows like Being Human and Doctor Who. Since being ‘discovered’ on Looking, Tovey has subsequently co-starred on several high-profile television shows, including Quantico, playing superhero The Ray on several CW shows like Supergirl and The Flash, and most recently appearing in roles on two Ryan Murphy vehicles: American Horror Story: NYC and Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.

Lauren Weedman

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Lauren Weedman

As Dom’s wise-cracking roommate and one of the only female characters featured on Looking, actor Lauren Weedman perfectly embodied the hilarious Doris. Like Dom, Doris grew up in Modesto, Calif., and fled to San Francisco for a more interesting and fulfilling life. Her character is not completely fleshed out until the show’s second season, when Weedman gets some much-deserved screen time and attention as Dom’s supportive best friend.

Weedman is a television veteran, featured in series like HungThe Daily Show with Jon StewartCurb Your EnthusiasmTrue BloodNew Girl and 2 Broke Girls…all before she starred on Looking. Since Looking ended, the talented actor has continued her television career by appearing on recent HacksEuphoria and Abbott Elementaryepisodes.

Chris Perfetti

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Chris Perfetti

Chris Perfetti has come a tremendously long way since his days on the second season of Looking as the new man in Richie’s life. After Patrick and Richie parted ways, before they reconciled and became interested in each other again, Perfetti’s character of Brady was the only thing standing between Richie and Patrick’s love. Slightly annoying and a bit of a know-it-all, Brady was never Looking fans’ favourite character.

However, Perfetti’s career has skyrocketed since appearing on the HBO series, particularly because of his background in theatre. He has become a journeyman within the theatre world, appearing on stage in no less than eight productions both on and off Broadway. But his co-starring role as nerdy teacher Jacob Hill on Abbott Elementary has given Perfetti room to brag in recent years. The Emmy-winning comedy was recently renewed for a fourth season, which means Perfetti will continue to show up on television screens for the foreseeable future while juggling a fantastic theatre career.

Raúl Castillo

Why Are We Still ‘Looking’ 10 Years Later? It Might Be The Cast: Raúl Castillo

Absolutely no list concerning the cast of Looking would be complete without everyone’s favourite character and actor from the show, Richie, played by Raúl Castillo. The moral compass and often Patrick’s North Star, Richie is a barber and proud of it. Growing up working-class in northern California, Richie is unique in Patrick’s life as a sensitive soul who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Hot, funny and altogether suave, Richie is the embodiment of what Patrick is “looking” for, though he sometimes doesn’t realize it.

Castillo was fresh-faced when he first starred on Looking, but he has taken the entertainment industry by storm ever since. A Texas native, Castillo has appeared in numerous film roles, including 2019’s Knives Out, six films in 2021 alone, and a supporting role in 2022’s The Inspection, which earned him a nomination for the Gotham Independent Film Award. The magnificent actor recently appeared on American Horror Stories and will soon be seen in the sequel to 2022’s Smile, releasing later this year.

MATTHEW CREITH is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas. He is a member of GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and participates in the association’s Dorian Awards. You may also know him for his work on Matinee With Matt, Screen Rant and Giant Freakin Robot. You can find him on Twitter: @matthew_creith or Instagram: matineewithmatt.

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