Ah, the early days of a relationship, when everything is nice and fresh and fun until that awkward moment when someone slips up and refers to the other one as his boyfriend, and then things get weird and awkward and The Conversation has to happen. I remember the first — and only — time this happened to me: I was seeing the first guy I had ever dated, and I casually mentioned that I called him my boyfriend when talking about him to a friend. “Oh, what?” he asked, and then I was successfully shamed into acknowledging that it wasn’t that serious even though I thought it was, and I had to retract it until he came around weeks later and admitted, yes, we were in a relationship. Of course, I was 23 at the time, not realizing that it was an early sign that this guy was probably not going to be a good bet.
This happens in the first scene of this week’s Looking, when Patrick talks about how Richie will be meeting his friends at Dom’s birthday party in the park. While he uncomfortably mentions that he and Dom once hooked up but remained friends (“You conveniently left that out,” Richie tells him”), he then drops the b-word. “Boyfriend? Who said I was your boyfriend?” Oh no! Did Patrick ruin things with his Señor Grande? Will he run off back to the barbershop or to his Mexican psychic, egg yolk dripping down his back. Nah, JK, Richie likes Patrick and wants to be his boyfriend, too. The next morning, Richie teaches Patrick how to put product in his hair and then gives him a special necklace to match his own. Yay! Patrick is a 29-year-old with a boyfriend for the second time in his life! Our little buddy is growing up!
Meanwhile, over in the Rich Gay part of town, Dom hangs out with some of Lynn’s friends, the kind of gay men who have real jobs and money and wear collared shirts under sweaters and drink wine out of actual wine glasses and don’t try to have one night stands with guys half their age? They’re also the kind of men who like opera, call each other “honey,” and talk about their friends with names like “Mama Jose.” But it turns out that Dom only wants these guys to invest in his restaurant. “Have you guys ever had peri peri chicken?” he asks them; like everyone else on this show, the concept is so insane and bewildering to them. Ethnic food? In San Francisco? Preposterous! You’d think Dom would be tired of this reaction by now, but he’s more consumed by the fact that it’s after midnight on the East Coast, which means he’s a mere three hours from turning 40. “You know at 40,” he tells Lynn, “Grindr emails you a death certificate?” This Is Gay 40, basically.
In Oakland, Agustín examines his photography, which is very artful images of his rent boy friend, CJ, fuckin’ other dudes. But it doesn’t work! It just doesn’t work! He begins to rip down all of the pictures in disgust, and his boyfriend, Franklin or Frank or Fran Liebowitz (whatever we’re calling him this week, who knows anymore?) tries to comfort him. “It’s not working!” Agustín shouts. The next morning they go shopping for the picnic and have a very serious discussion concerning the ethnic implications of purchasing a bag of Cheetos. Agustín says that he invited CJ to the party, then defends his lifestyle choice to Frank. “CJ does what he wants to when he wants to,” he says. “He doesn’t have to explain it.” Oh, if only art were as easy as sex work!
Everyone converges in the park, along with Patrick’s coworker Owen and his girlfriend. Patrick’s friends all act weird when he refers to Richie as his boyfriend; perhaps the problem isn’t Patrick but actually his terrible friends? They go on to joke about how gay Patrick’s voice is, and in retaliation he jumps up and starts mincing around and accentuating his sibilant Ses. While he’s prancing around like Michael Douglas as Liberace, he notices that his boss, Kevin, is headed over with his boyfriend, because of course he also invited his boss to his friend’s birthday party. Is it a requirement that everyone we have seen in this show so far must hang out together? Do you think Dom and Owen and Kevin all have a lot of things to talk about?
Also, let’s pause for a moment and consider the fact that a bunch of gay men are sitting around criticizing one of their friends for being, essentially, a big old faggot. This show has basically become the equivalent of “no fats, no femmes,” and it’s gross, you guys. It’s really gross. Pair that with the fact that the whole Looking PR blitz has been trumping up this idea that the show is “so real” and finally depicts “real gays” makes my fucking skin crawl.
Having embarrassed himself in front of his boss for displaying a temporary break in his masculinity, Patrick introduces Richie to Kevin, and Kevin introduces his hot beefcake boyfriend, John. They ask Richie what he does, and he replies, “I cut hair.” “Oh, for a living?” Patrick interjects, saying that Richie wants to open up his own salon one day, even though he’s never made any indication as such. But, you know, he has to do something to make his boyfriend look impressive to his boss, who designs video games, and to his friends, one of whom is a career waiter and the other an unemployed artist.
Dom’s feeling less grouchy about the whole turning-40 thing, and thanks Doris for setting it up. “I made a Facebook event,” she scowls. “It wasn’t super hard.” As they sit on the grass, a man walks over to deliver a bouquet of flowers — a birthday gift from Lynn. Doris is so over the moon (Doris can barely imagine what it would be like to receive flowers), and she wink-wink, nudge-nudges Dom because she’s convinced he and Lynn are going to get married and adopt ethnic babies together.
Patrick asks Agustín what he thinks about Richie, because apparently Agustín’s opinions are worth hearing. Agustín, naturally, accuses Patrick of slumming it, leading Richie on, and using the relationship to prove something to his friends. (What that might be, I have no idea. We only have 30 minutes here! No point wasting it on examining characters or anything worthwhile!) Patrick points out that Agustín was the one who invited a sex worker to his friend’s birthday party to meet his own boyfriend, which, yeah, is a good point. The debate, though, it settled when Richie comes over and asks Agustín, “What’s your fucking problem with me, man?” Agustín, of course, squeamishly tries to avoid the conflict and calls Richie “hermano,” which only pisses him off more. Patrick and Richie leave, and Agustín goes over and snuggles with Frank and CJ on the grass.
Patrick and Richie walk home, and Richie asks Patrick if he’s embarrassed of him. “I would never let one of my people disrespect you like that,” he tells Patrick. “I take this boyfriend thing very, very seriously.” Patrick, naturally freaking out, goes and does what he does best: make things more weird and intense. He invites Richie to his sister’s wedding in two weeks, which Richie, at first, is hesitant about. But then they make out in the street so I guess everyone’s cool now.
Speaking of totally cool, Agustín and Frank bring home CJ, and Agustín takes pictures of CJ fucking his boyfriend. Art!
Dom, tipsy from celebrating in the park, goes over to Lynn’s place to thank him for the flowers, where they get stoned and watch cartoons. Lynn admits that his friends decided against investing in a restaurant because, you know, peri peri chicken is just TOO INSANE. But Lynn does offer a great suggestion: a highly publicized, one-night pop-up restaurant. Finally, the stakes are getting really high and interesting. Then Dom kisses Lynn, because no one on this show understands boundaries. No one except for Lynn, who rebuffs him. “If we’re going to be in business together, I think that’s hard enough,” he says to Dom. “We’re friends, OK?”
Finally, a naked Patrick stands in his bathroom looking in the mirror (“Nailed it!!!” – whichever writer came up with the episode’s title) and fondling Richie’s necklace. That’s all. The end. Good show.