After the success of his gay-themed movie Weekend, it was a good idea to hire Andrew Haigh to help develop the show Looking, but even he couldn’t overcome the difficulties the show faced, with the series getting cancelled after Season 2 (although a final, two-hour ‘movie’ will wrap things up).
Now Haigh has chatted with Attitude about the difficulties Looking faced from both those who hated it before they’d properly seen it, and how representing LGBT people on screen can be extremely difficult.
He says of the initial reaction from the gay community, “A lot of people seemed to talk about it without actually watching it. So many people said ‘I didn’t watch your show, I didn’t like it’, but they’d admit they barely watched the pilot. So you’re making a judgment on two seasons of a show after watching just five minutes, and turning it off because somebody was being jerked off in a wood and you didn’t like what that said about gay people.”
As with various other shows that have featured gay people, Looking had to deal with those who didn’t like that it included negative aspects of gay life, and it perhaps faced more scrutiny as many were hoping it would be their personal ‘perfect’ look at gay men. However, when it wasn’t how they hoped they’d be represented (whether what the characters were doing was valid to the wider gay experience or not), they turned against the show.
Haigh comments, “I do think it is rooted in a fear where we want representation in the world, but only of the best of us. Now, it is of my feeling that if we want true acceptance, then we should be accepted fully, as shitty people, who have emotional baggage and who do find it hard to be gay. I have no problem with those characters being on screen…
“For years, I wanted to see myself represented on screen. But it is frustrating when you create characters, whose stories you are trying to tell, and you come up against all of this anger and hatred. I had so many people saying, ‘I hate that Patrick character, he is awful, he is just not me!’ And I’d look at them and think, ‘You do know, you are actually Patrick?!’”
As for the Looking feature-length finale, Haigh says, “I can tell you nothing! Look, it’s not going to be massively different from what you’ve seen before, there’s not going to be aliens or anything over dramatic but I think it’s a nice way for us to bring the stories to a kind of semi-conclusion and wrap some things up – to have a final chapter to it.”