IN the TV landscape, writers are uber sensitised to drawing on real-life characters when penning fresh series.
As much as the gender issues are covered, homosexuality has also become a cornerstone and a rather popular blueprint as well.
It was a hit with Will & Grace and took centre stage in TV series like Ugly Betty, Downton Abbey, Modern Family, The New Normal and Glee.
However, there haven’t been many shows that made gays the soul of a show akin to The L Word – well, that is, until now.
Created by writer-director-producer Michael Lannan, and fleshed out from Lorimer, his short film, Looking follows a group of gay friends living in San Francisco.
Jonathan Groff, who has an impressive theatre résumé, has a few movie and TV credits. Fans of Glee will remember him as Jesse St James. He also made a cameo appearance on The Good Wife and starred in political thriller, Boss, with Kelsey Grammer.
In Looking, he is cast as Patrick Murray, a video game designer. His best friend – since college days at The University of California – is Agustín, who works as an artist’s assistant. Rounding off the friend list is Dom, a wine waitor.
While Patrick has his own yo-yo romances, Agustín is already in a long-term relationship with Frank, while Dom finds himself increasingly drawn to Lynn, an entrepreneur. By the way, Quantum Leap’s Scott Bakula is cast as Lynn.
Chatting to HitFix about his interesting year of character departures, especially after Glee, he says: “I knew I was going to have sex with my boss in the final episode. I didn’t know, specifically, how it would play out. But I knew that was the vision forthe season.”
Highlighting one of his favourite moments from the series, where Kevin asks Patrick out to dinner and he turns him down, Groff comments: “That scene was written in the final hour of shooting by one of our writers, John Hoffman, who really felt that in order for Patrick to go to that club and really be open to Richie, he had to say ‘no’ to Kevin.”
Of the show’s reception to date, he laughs: “There were so many preconceived notions about what the show was. People were saying it was the gay Sex in the City or the gay Girls, before we even started filming and after we made the pilot. In some ways, it gets people talking about the show. We knew there were people who were expecting us to represent the entire gay community, which I think is more of a reflection of, unfortunately, a lack of representation.”
What sets the risqué script apart is the fact that it boasts a writing team of nine, with seven of them being gay. In this way, the storytelling doesn’t succumb to any stereotyping.
On Patrick’s relationship with his BFFs, the actor reveals: “I definitely relate to the relationship between Patrick and Agustín because it’s like one of those friends you had. When we meet them at this time of their lives, they are kind of at a crossroads. They need to separate from each other and then come back together. Agustín’s moving in with his boyfriend. Patrick is trying to grow and find a new side of himself. So they are becoming their own person outside of each other, which happens in relationships. By the end of the season, we see them coming back together, which will probably illuminate their relationship for season two.”
The themes tackled in Looking are universal but the subjects more niche. Overall, it is risqué fun – and ground-breaking in the TV realm.
Looking airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Tuesdays at 10.30pm.