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SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Throwback Thursday - Looking - Looking for a Plot

9 Aug 2018

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Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favourite TV episodes from over the years.

It seems quite fitting that my last ever post for the site should also make it my 100th. Yes, it is true, after this article I will no longer be writing for SpoilerTV. These past four years have been a treat and I met a lot of great people during that time, but now it is time for me to go. And what better way to leave than on a note of love and acceptance, as featured in arguably the most beautiful episode of Looking. This is a show that, in this summer's Pitch Your Show series, I called, "ahead of its time", and I stand by it. HBO viewers weren't quite yet ready for a show like this and it showed -- the show was cancelled after two short seasons, and was given a wrap-up movie to boot. But like myself and many others have said before, the world so desperately needs more of this show right now. Today's landscape leaves much to be desired, and for people like me who are fed up with practically everything happening in the world right now? I would never say no to more of this show, or shows like it, being made. With all that being said, let's get into "Looking for a Plot". I'm very excited to share this episode with you.

"Looking for a Plot" immediately offers us something wonderfully innovative from the get go -- an episode centring around an unlikely throuple. Sure, Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Doris (Lauren Weedman) are often seen together, and are one of the greatest friendships ever portrayed on television, but throwing Patrick (Jonathan Groff) into the mix is an excellent way to show the wholesome dynamic between some of the best characters on the show. The beginning of the episode follows the events of the last as Patrick is reconciling with going off on Richie, his ex-boyfriend, and Brady, Richie's boyfriend. Meanwhile, Doris is over the moon with her boyfriend, Malik, and is perfectly comfortable talking about the orgasms she's having and the nudes she is sending while everyone is eating together at Dom's future restaurant. But the unrelenting glee Doris was having is quickly replaced by despair, as one line completely changes the course of what looked like a happy cold open. "Oh, fuck. My dad's dead." She immediately tries to change the subject, which seems perfectly normal for anyone receiving this sort of news. And here's where our episode gets underway. One of the main reasons I love this show is the immaculate direction done by Andrew Haigh. "Looking for the Future", in particular, comes to mind as a beautiful showcase of the man's talents in filming characters set amongst massively gorgeous scenery. Here, too, comes some lovely shots of our three friends driving around pretty sights and sounds. We learn more about Dom and Doris's friendship, and how much Doris's dad loved Dom. (The answer? "So much.")

Perhaps the main thing the show is lauded for is how 'normally' it treats its characters, as though the majority of them being gay is just one of many traits about them. They all maintain an arsenal full of personality quirks and ambitions that makes them all fully realized people. It makes them feel real. The way they treat Doris, pretty much the sole female presence on the show, is no different. This was her episode, through and through. Lauren Weedman is superb in her depiction of a woman in mourning, slowly coming to the realization that she does indeed have her friends behind her to back her up. Sharing many anecdotes about her childhood, she is the one who anchors this outing to its highest of highs, of which there are plenty. Most notably of all are the scenes directly surrounding her father -- at the funeral home, and later, at the funeral itself (and at the reception afterwards). Doris is normally so carefree, so badass, it's rare that we get to see the frightened, fearful woman underneath the veil. Lauren knocks it out of the damn park, and Murray is the perfect scene partner to be her sidekick of sorts.

"Sometimes, when we were making out, I used to think about George Michael." - Doris
"Just so you know, sometimes, I did too." - Dom

A lot of this episode contains moments of catharsis for our characters. Doris gets to stay in the hotel she had always wanted to when she was growing up, as well as swimming in its pool. Dom gets his big moment of shouting out of the moving car, and Patrick lets out a lot of pent up emotions while at the funeral. This experiences afforded all three characters a chance to let off some steam and participate in many activities that we didn't know we wanted to see until we had them. After stopping to get some coffees (with a wonderful guest appearance by Charlyne Yi), the aforementioned swimming with some KFC once they are finished, they head off to a nice little gay bar to show off some of their dope dance moves. I never thought a scene of just three people dancing would bring me to tears, and I never thought I'd be able to tolerate hearing "Walking on Sunshine" after that Futurama episode, but here we are. I would watch a spinoff of these three characters in a dance competition. I would follow them anywhere. And it's the very quick cut to the next scene, being that of the funeral, that stopped my tears and brought me to inexplicable laughter. Seriously, it's a really harsh cut, and that's what makes it so great. The Whitman poem that Doris's aunt Sarah read below? Chills-inducing stuff.

"This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done. Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best." - Walt Whitman

I mentioned above about Patrick's steam-removal, and it really is glorious. He is our central protagonist, after all, so even in an episode about someone else's funeral, he's going to steal the show. And that he does! Sarah comes up to him during the reception proceedings and wants to know if he's okay. If he's okay. As if it wasn't her brother that just died! I can't imagine anyone else but Jonathan in this role, and it's hard not to think about Patrick's sobbing as one of the standout scenes in this offering. Dom also has quite a few big moments, one of which involves him coming out to the owner of the building where they held the reception. Something that I can't believe I haven't mentioned yet is that, by far, my favourite couple on the show is Dom and Patrick. I'm quite a bit biased in my picking of this episode, as we get a fair share of delicious scenes between these two. Maybe delicious is the wrong descriptor, though the scenes divvied between them are crucial to gain more insight about them. They're very touchy feely in this one and even split a hug or two, which obviously sent me to my grave (pun very much intended). However, when it comes to these two characters in particular, words speak louder than actions.

"I'm gay! I'm gay, dad! I'm a big homo queer!" - Dom

Dom shouts the quote above from a moving car, from the car they're driving away from the graveyard in after Dom feels some depression since his father never got to accept that about him. It's a moment of pure unadulterated happiness. But, as is par for the course in Looking, the moment is ever so fleeting. The group is then hit by a passing car. It's another harsh cut that the show always does well in. "I can't believe we survived a funeral only to be side-swiped by a truck." Dom's right, it's pure irony that, even if they all weren't completely depressed and ruined by Doris's father's passing, they weren't in excellent places either. It's here where Doris finally asks Malik to come see her. But before that, though, Dom provides Doris with his unwavering, eternal support, and Doris offers the money left from her dad to open his restaurant. See? This is why their friendship tears me a new one. The used to date, they discovered who they really were with the help of each other, they continue to live together, they are truly best friends for life. Subversive to the bone, stunningly so, Dom and Doris are forever. "There's nobody that I'd rather invest in more than you, you know that? 'Cause you're my family!" That he is. Normally I don't like to mention the very ending of this episode, since it's Patrick and Kevin stupidity and those two are more toxic than corrosive hellfire, so I'll end on a different note.

Doris finally allowed herself to be loved by Malik, after just about the worst couple days of her life. Dom allowed himself to accept money from a true friend and came out to his dad once and for all, with him having no choice but to accept it as he has no way of rebutting it. And Patrick allowed himself to talk to Kevin at the end of the episode, I suppose, but moreover, to publicly show emotions and not apologize for them. They all allowed themselves to share a bit of themselves with each other that they hadn't before. These kinds of life experiences are the important ones -- love, heartbreak, death, rebirth. We're all only human, after all. To quote my favourite band, Muse, "when we bleed, we bleed the same." It would do us all well to remember that. Until that point, if it ever comes, let us rejoice and remember that Andrew Haigh, a group of very talented writers, and a sublimely talented cast of actors made something so magnificent for us all to bear witness to. There's a reason why this episode feels so real, even after countless rewatches and years passing. There's a reason why people find this show "boring". It's because these are characters that are written to be just like people you know, and the actors embody them without fail. Everything came together perfectly for this episode, and in the end, this is what television should be about. Something so immensely real that we can all celebrate together. It's programs like this that make you stop and assess what you've lost and what you've gained, examining all of your experiences and regrets in your life. The true beauty of "Looking for a Plot", and Looking in general, are that they bring forth these inner-discussions without ever really trying to. Sneakily, and concurrently, self-reflection is inbound. Relish in it.

And so, with that, I bid adieu to SpoilerTV. If you've ever read my articles, had a discussion with me in the comments, or took it even further by chatting with me elsewhere -- my sincerest thanks I offer to you. Four years seemingly flew by. Please be sure to leave your thoughts on this wonderful episode and series if you have any. If not, well, I'll see you on the other side. You can find my social media links in my author box if you'd like to keep in touch, and I'll hopefully be crafting more work for my blog after this so follow along there too, perhaps.

Thank you.

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