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Reviews: Looking and The Fosters

Sun 26 Jan 2014 In: Television View at Wayback View at NDHA

Sky’s SoHo has premiered the much buzzed about new gay show Looking, while TV2 has begun showing a series about lesbian mums with a horde of foster kids, aptly named The Fosters. We checked out the first episodes. Looking SoHo, Thursdays 9PM (with regular repeats) HBO’s new gay TV show opens with an awkward almost sexual encounter in a cruising spot - and the awkwardness doesn’t let up from there. But from a first watch it’s fun and refreshing, and yes, pretty much a gay Sex in the City. Looking stars Glee’s Jonathan Groff as he, you guessed it, navigates dating in the heaving gay-tropolis of San Francisco, with a couple of best mate sidekicks along for the ride. It explores the pervasive role of the internet in modern gay love lives, from stalking exes’ profiles to scouring dating sites for hot guys who may actually be a ‘match’ , looking at how so much information can leave way too many details to be read into. Groff is Patrick, a game developer who we get to watch on an uncomfortable date with a med student who has never played a video game in his life - they were a really good match online though. Frankie J. Alvarez from Smash and Aussie actor Murray Bartlett play the other two main characters, Agustín and Dom, one who is in a relationship and about to move in with his boyfriend, and the other who is dealing with being a little older than he wants to be. Based solely on what we’re shown in the first episode, so far it’s happily lightweight. And yes, despite the protestations at the label from some quarters, it really is pretty much Sex in the City for gays. To let comparisons abound, so far there is way less actual sex shown than Queer as Folk, and almost as many awkward encounters as Girls – awkwardness which hopefully doesn’t become the show’s staple as it could just get irritating. There is a guy with a tattoo of Dolly Parton’s signature. There is a threesome. There is an awkward urinal scene. A guy in a g-string grinds on a guy in a bear suit. There is much awkwardness. There is much discussion about all the awkwardness. But hey, it’s fun. And unsurprisingly with seven of its nine writers actually gay men, it feels pretty genuine. The Fosters 3PM Saturdays, TV2 From the trailer the Jennifer Lopez produced series The Fosters looked like it was going to be cheesy as hell. But that was probably just because of the over enthusiastic voiceover guy. From a network called ABC Family, the series centres on San Diego lesbian mums Stef and Lena who already have three teenage kids, one Stef’s biological son and the two others foster kids, and take on another teen with some troubles who has nowhere to go. “So you’re dykes?” Callie, the latest addition to the family asks, as hot still-in-uniform cop Stef comes home from a day of upholding the law and plants one on Lena. “They prefer the term people, but yeah, they’re gay,” foster kid Jesus responds. And suddenly we have a fun two-mum family dynamic on TV that we might actually be able to relate to. Hooray! As Stef puts it “we’re definitely not the Brady Bunch”. She’s played by actress Teri Polo, instantly recognisable as Pam from the Focker film series. Her partner Lena is Sherri Shaum who has appeared in Rescue Me and In Treatment. The horde of teenagers is are made up mostly of a bunch of Disney kids, some who will be familiar to younger viewers, particularly Jake T. Austin from the Wizards of Waverly Place – who is also the voice of Diego in pre-school cartoon favourites Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! With Lena taking on another kid without being able to contact Stef about it first, Stef being partnered with her ex-husband at work, two of the foster kids having a drug-addicted biological mother, romance blooming between a couple of a teenagers and the attitude-ridden but clearly hurting new foster kid’s brother also needing somewhere to live - there is a simple recipe for some drama. The Fosters is in the vein of shows like One Tree Hill and yes, thanks to the constant slow dramatic piano plunking music, the predictable nature of the story and the utter earnestness of it all, there is a clear cheese factor, but it’s all palatable enough to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon. Catch up on the first episode On Demand here Jacqui Stanford - 26th January 2014    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Sunday, 26th January 2014 - 11:33am

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