cult hbo show 'looking' axed

The drama, about a group of gay friends in San Fran, won't be returning for a third season.

by Nick Levine
25 March 2015, 5:34pm

Looking, HBO's cult show about a group of mainly gay friends living in San Francisco, will not be returning for a third season. Instead, the half-hour comedy-drama starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett and British actor Russell Tovey will conclude with a one-off special.

"After two years of following Patrick and his tight-knit group of friends as they explored San Francisco in search of love and lasting relationships, HBO will present the final chapter of their journey as a special," HBO confirmed in a statement today. "We look forward to sharing this adventure with the show's loyal fans."

Those loyal fans will be disappointed by Looking's demise, but probably not too surprised. Despite its impressive cast and wealth of creative talent - the series was created by Damages and Nurse Jackie alumnus Michael Lannan, and executive produced by Andrew Haigh, the British director of acclaimed gay film Weekend - Looking has struggled in the ratings ever since it debuted in January 2014. Season two, which drew to a close on Sunday, attracted between 0.15m and 0.33m viewers an episode - less than half the audience of Lena Dunham's Girls, a roughly equivalent HBO half-hour comedy drama.

However, fans can take solace in the knowledge that Looking's farewell special will provide an opportunity for loose ends to be tied up - season two concluded with one couple contemplating an open relationship, and a pair of lifelong pals making a pact to pursue a healthier, less co-dependent friendship. The second season was pacier than its slow-burning first, but it remains a show that favors subtle storytelling without obvious pay-offs, so it's going to be fascinating to see how it says goodbye. Whatever the writers decide, Looking's unique mix of multi-layered characters, relatable insights into modern gay life and unapologetically graphic man-on-man sex scenes will be missed.