Dec 30, 2023

Looking: Gay dudebros look for love and sex, with countless directorial tricks and a surprise that I'm not giving away.

on MAX (2014-15), is a gay-themed comedy-drama about a group of 30-ish g* men looking for love in San Francisco.  I lived in San Francisco for two years, so maybe I can get some nostalgia going on: let's review Episode 1.1

 Link to NSFW site, RG Beefcake and Boyfriends, with a secret surprise

Scene 1: Paddy (Jonathan Groff) is meeting a stranger in the  park. The guy refuses kissing or conversation, just starting (a very elementary form of sex). That's it?  What are you, amateurs?  At least get on your knees. Suddenly Paddy's cell phone rings -- he thinks it's his mother, because who else calls these days? -- and he scrams. 

Scene 2: Paddy's friends, Richie (Raul Castillo) and Dom (Murray Bartlett), who drink all the time, praise him for getting a h**kup: now he can finally call himself a perv*rt. They discuss booze on the bus (I never once rode a bus, either. It was Muni, BART, or drive and spend an hour looking for a parking space)

Scene 3:
 They guys are talking about a bachelor party. I'm rather confused. One of the grooms invited his ex-boyfriend, which is a bad idea, but is Paddy the ex-boyfriend, or are they talking about someone else?  Paddy criticizes Gabe (one of the grooms?) for being too fat, but the others criticize his body-shaming.  They also reference Frank. OMG, introduce your characters!  Dom discusses how much he loves booze; at least he has  a character tag.


Scene 4:  Morning. Establishing shot of a quiet San Francisco hill, not Castro Street. Paddy awakens to the sound of two guys having sex in the next room and says "Oh my God."  You got a problem with gay sex, homophobe?

The two guys (who may be Dom and Richie) seem to be (having an elementary form of sex.  Doesn't anyone in San Francisco do the more usual things?) But one of them realizes that he's late for an appointment; "This guy might take the room" -- Tara's friend --  so he leaves.  Ok, the guy with the appointment calls his partner "My Little Cuban Sandwich," so he must be Augustin (Frankie Alvarez).

More plot: the guy with the appointment keeps asking Augustin to move in, but he usually refuses.  He's agreeing today because he "can't afford the City anymore."  Wait -- the establishing shot was the City.  Aren't these the guys who are having s*x in Paddy's apartment?

Scene 5:
 Breakfast. Paddy talking to a guy we can't see, so the big reveal will be a surprise.  He heard the guy and Frank having sex through the wall.  Frank, the guy with the appointment, is O.T. Fagbenle.  I assume it's a stage name  

Another guy walks in -- Augustin?  And Paddy was discussing Frank, so who is the guy he is talking to? The camera moves back -- he is talking to an empty chair, or I guess to Augustin when he was still in the other room.  Ok, at least we know that these are the guys having sex in Scene 5, except they think it's Oakland, when it is clearly San Francisco.

Frank calls from the bathroom that he needs a towel, and Paddy mocks him for it.  Yeah, wanting to dry off after a shower, what a loser!  But I guess if you have to criticize everybody all the time, you start grasping at straws fast.

Scene 6: Frank finishes his shower, but he's in another apartment, talking to a woman.  This is probably a Frank lookalike, shown taking a shower to confuse us. He wants to call Ethan but the woman disapproves because Ethan tried to kill him. "He did not!  He just threatend to! Besides, when we were together, you tried to kill me a bunch of times."  Ok, the woman is Frank Lookalike's ex girlfriend.  Anyway, Ethan is rich now, so why not call?  

Next order of business: the Frank Lookalike is thinking of getting into real estate.  Ex-Girlfriend laughs at him. "You -- somebody like you -- in real estate?  Don't be ridiculous!"  She doesn't explain why it's ridiculous, but I guess she has to mock everything.  "Is there any coffee?"  "What an idiotic question!  Jerk!"  

I have to do a break here, or the review will be too long

Scene 7:
 A guy who wears glasses going to work in a cubicle with a computer. Paddy?  But he looks completely different! His coworker, Owen (Andrew Law), drops by to criticize him.  Seeing that Paddy is on the OK Cupid dating site, he ridicules his choice:  "Wait -- he's a doctor, and you think he'd date an idiot like you.  Plus he's a swimmer.  You're too clueless to swim."  He then comes out as straight, with a girlfriend, Bethany. Named characters so far: 10. The Frank Lookalike and his ex have not been named yet, so 12 altogether.

Paddy accepts the date anyway - at the Press Club tonight -- and sends him a winking emoji.  Owen criticizes both the dating venue and the emoji, of course.

Scene 8:
 Augustin at work, maybe building a movie set.  A woman introduces him to Scotty (Tanner Cohen), his assistant for the day. They have fun criticizing the design  (aren't you the one who designed it, dude?)

Scene 9: Four suit-types at lunch, complaining that they can't get the wine they got last time.  The waiter recommends something else, "a nice full-bodied red, spicy but easy on the pallete, with notes of fruit and coca" It's so much easier when you don't drink: "Diet Coke, please.  Sure, Pepsi is fine."  

Hey, the waiter is the Frank Lookalike, who wants to go into real estate! He goes to the bar to complain about the suits: "they look like a bunch of filthy dog-f*kers."  Rather harsh, even for a culture where everybody ridicules everything!

Another waiter tries to console him: "Just keep on putting positive energy out into the universe."  When he leaves, Frank Lookalike criticizes him, then asks the bartender for his name.  Bartender: "No. Whenever you sexually harass a new guy, he quits."

Scene 9: 
Paddy checks his hair in a store window.  A guy inside smiles at him.  He recoils in disgust and moves on to the Polo Club, or whatever it is. His date introduces himself as Benjamin (Matthew Wilkas, left). Hey, where are Paddy's friends Richie and Dom from the first scenes?  I thought they were going to be major characters.

Benjamin criticizes Paddy's job in video game development (of course), then asks "are you disease and drug free?"  Is this a date or a physical, Doctor?  But Paddy gets even, criticizing Benjamin's misquoting of Khalil Gibran (a famous poet from the hippie era).  Then he discusses how desperate he is to get laid (bad move, dude).  He was so desperate yesterday that he had a hookup in the park!  Benjamin, looking for romance rather than anonymous encounters, is not pleased.  "This isn't working. Bye!"

Scene 10: Back to Augustin and Scotty flirting while criticizing things.  Wait -- Scotty is flirting with another guy (maybe Augustin's boyfriend Frank?)!  They met at Darren and Anthony's Cinco de Mayo party.   They start an encounter right there in the -- stage?  Kissing, and it looks like Augustin is going to go downtown.

Scene 11:  A guy flirts with Paddy on the bus.  Paddy still has Benjamin's card, so he pretends to be a resident in oncology. The guy introduces himself: Richie, a cosmetologist.  Wait -- then who was Paddy's friend in the first two scenes?

Cut to the Frank Lookalike at work at the fancy restaurant. On his break, he's eating lamb with merguez (lamb sausage).  He offers a bite to a guy off camera, so we'll be surprised by the big reveal -- surprise!  It's Liam, the waiter he criticized/liked earlier. "So, want to grab a drink?" Frank Lookalike asks, "Or we could just go back to your place."  Geez, forward.  Have you spoken two words to this guy?  

Scene 12:  Paddy telling his friend Dom (from scene 1, remember?) that he gave the guy (Richie) the wrong card!  "I was just so angry at that doctor."  Your fault for discussing a public hookup on a first date. "What about the bus guy?"  "He came on too strong, and he's not my type."  Weren't you desperate to get laid ten minutes ago? 

Paddy heads to the bathroom, and is shocked to see a guy off camera, so we'll be surprised at the big reveal -- someone I don't recognize, but they both agree that it's awkward to be pissing into the same trough. This must be the very late-night bachelor party, and Paddy is the ex-boyfriend.  

Hey, Frank Lookalike is Dom from Scene 1!  He complains that the guy he invited home said no -- the first time that has ever happened. You're lying.  The bartender at the fancy restaurant said that you try to get with lots of the male waiters, and they always quit. Paddy complains that he has too many bad  dates. 

Out on the street after the bachelor party,  Paddy looks depressed, and then goes to the club where Richie from the Bus works. The end.

Beefcake: Some bare chests.

San Francisco: Some random street scenes.

Number of Characters
: Too many to keep track of, and they look different from scene to scene. And who the heck is the non-Richie in the first scene?  Or was that a time jump?

Update: Non-Richie is Agustin!  Their pictures on IMDB are identical, and Richie gets second billing, so I figured he was the second friend.

Talking to Someone Off Camera: A device to be used only occasionally, when the identity of the person will be a big surprise.  Used here all the time.  I'm still mad about Paddy talking to an empty chair, so when Augustin comes in, you think there are three people in the room.

Trick Cuts: Instantaneous cuts between two people doing the same thing, so you think it's the same person. Fooled you, har har.  It's a dirty trick, especially in the first episode where you're trying to keep track of 300 characters.

Criticizing Everything: This was actually kind of fun.  Everytime I thought, "That's so innocuous -- you couldn't possibly criticize it," they did!

My Grade:  Not a lot of nostalgia here, and too many tricks. B

Link to the NSFW version on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends 

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