'Looking': Creator Michael Lannan on the finale and season two
HBO’s freshman dramedy Looking, about three gay best friends in San Francisco, wrapped up its first season tonight with some break-ups and hook ups. EW talked to the series creator Michael Lannan about all the drama as well as plans for the recently announced season two.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The big twist was that Kevin and Patrick hooked up. Did you always plan for that to happen?
MICHAEL LANNAN: I don’t think it was too pre-meditated. It was just something that came about as we were working through the room and just got through more episodes. I think Richie and Kevin both offer Patrick such different things and I think we always thought Patrick would be in this place where he’s so connected to Richie in this one way and so connected to Kevin in another and this was going to create big problems for him. So I think we were just excited to see how it would play out as we wrote it. Richie and Kevin just access Patrick in different ways and offer him different thigns and I think that’s really exciting for Patrick and also very problematic.
I was surprised they didn’t use one of those swinging chairs in the office for that scene.
That was a brilliant idea of our production designer Todd Fjelsted. That subconscious suggestion isn’t just in your head.
Good. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
One of the things that’s so different about Looking is that the sex on the show is very realistic.
That was always the goal. We made a decision early on that we wanted the show to be very frank and show sex as something really exciting and awesome and also sometimes awkward and much trickier than it can sometimes be on TV. So we just wanted to show all those sides of it and not just have it be punishing or humiliating or not just have it be amazing and super sweaty and hot. You can learn so much about a character by how they approach sex and how they do it and what they do afterwards. Along with that, we just decided we’d show sex for storytelling purposes. Really, half an hour is so short you don’t have much time so we just wanted it all to be very integrated into the story and always say something about the characters and the situation.
On an entirely different note, do you own a peri peri chicken franchise or something?
I probably should!
Have you had peri peri chicken?
Gosh I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never had it. [Executive producer] Andrew [Haigh] has had it. Andrew loves peri peri chicken. I think it’s big in England and Australia. It was a group effort coming up with peri peri chicken.
Dom and Lynn became such a moving and poignant storyline. Did you enjoy writing that?
That’s been really interesting. I think people have really responded to that storyline and I think that’s due to a number of things. I think it’s not something that’s been done on TV for a while, like being a gay man, hitting 40 and feeling at a dead end. I think also just Murray Bartlett is so fantastic in that role and so touching and hot and has a real sensitivity too. And Scott Bakula is also so wonderful. They have such great chemistry together and really just helped tell that story in such small subtle ways too.
Scott is doing an NCIS spin-off pilot. What does that mean for his Looking future?
Scott Bakula fans need not worry. We’ll figure out a way to make it work.
So it seemed like the big spiral downward would be Dom but it ended up being Augustine. Will he climb back up next season?
I really don’t know. We’re still thinking about him. Obviously he’s ended this season in a very dark place. He’s lost everything: he’s lost his boyfriend, his place to live, his job. His friendships with Dom and Patrick are forever altered too. It does feel like something’s gotta change for him to get through the day. I think we’re still thinking about that.
So much of TV these days hinges on speed-plotting and Looking is sort of the refreshing alternative to that. It’s paced more deliberately. But do you all feel pressure to amp up the drama for next year? Like are you gonna start killing people off in the first episode back a la House of Cards?
[Laughs] We don’t have any plans for anyone to die but that’s a good suggestion—I’ll bring it up. The tone of the show and the pace of the show is something we’re really proud of beause it is really unique to our world. We always wanted it to have a kind of slice of life/everyday feeling to it and we wanted it to be distinctive. So we just plan on the show becoming more itself, by that I mean just having our characters continue to learn and go on these journeys. I think the tone of the show is going to feel the same even as the characters and the world grows bigger too.
Gays can be a tough audience—I include myself in that group. What’s been the feedback you’ve gotten?
It’s been so great. It’s been exciting. Overall it’s been such a positive reception to the show. I think certainly the pace and the tone as you say is quite unique to our world and more kind of cinematic in some ways than some TV shows. I think we may have confounded some expectations as to what the show was early on because there was so much talk about what it was going to be. I think we made some bold choices and there were some strong opinions mostly positive, some negative in the beginning. It’s been really awesome and gratifying and exciting to see people sink into the show a little more and invest in the characters—around midseason I think we felt that kind of start to happen. The kind of noise around it calmed down in some ways and people started to accept the show on its own terms and the ratings has grown steadily and the audience has seemed to broaden out. There’s nothing that pleases us more.
Do you know what season two and season three are?
I think it’s a more organic process. Certainly Adnrew and myself and our great writing team we’ve all talked about the things we’ve learned from season one. Inevitably when you get through the season you have more ideas you didn’t get to use or things that occurred to you because of unexpected things that happened during production. I think we’re just kind of gathering all those things and are just kind of getting into it again now. So no I don’t think there’s any kind of master plan but just continuing to develop the directions our characters have taken.
The first season seemed to encompass maybe a month at most. Will season two pick up immediately after the finale?
I’m not sure. I don’t know. That’s up for debate. My guess would be no.
Russell Tovey (Kevin), Lauren Weedman (Doris) and Raul Castillo (Richie) will all be regulars next year right?
That’s correct. I think fans of Richie, Doris and Kevin will be happy to see them back next year and exploring all those characters more.