Looking Creator Michael Lannan: “People Have To Support Gay Shows”
The story of three best friends living in San Francisco and tackling the hopes, fears, and challenges of modern gay men captured the hearts of fans for two seasons.
Though the series was given the axe at the end of its sophomore season, HBO thankfully greenlit a film version, giving the creators a rare chance to wrap up loose ends – and the fans a chance to see more of the cast stripped down and sexed up.
Now the entire saga will be available as a single box set when Looking: The Complete Series Debuts on Blu-ray and DVD November 15.
To remember the series in all its queer glory, we sat down with Looking creator Michael Lannan to chat about the show’s impact, legacy, and the need to support LGBTQ shows and programs of all sorts.
How does it feel to have the entire Looking series and film finally released as one big saga?
It’s cool and strange to be able to hold a box in my hand of all these stories we created over the last few years, but I’m excited for people to see it as this whole package because we always thought of it as one big story divided up into smaller pieces.
What was the initial spark that lit your creative fire?
There wasn’t any kind of modern take on sexuality and gay men on television at that moment. I was a big fan of the U.K. version of Queer as Folk, that blew my mind when I saw it, because it was so modern and unlike anything else at that time. I would never compare our show to that one, but I think it was a big inspiration to do something that was equally provocative and contemporary.
What are some of your favorite stories fans have told you about how Looking has personally inspired them in their own lives?
There have been so many, but we had a couple of older men who told us they came out after watching the show because it showed them such a different vision of being gay then they had seen before. I don’t think any of us can take credit for that exactly because obviously coming out is such a personal thing, but I’m so pleased that the show has helped people think about sexuality a little differently.
How did you feel when you found out the show was cancelled?
It was really difficult because we did have ideas about what season 3 could be and there were stories for all the characters.
But you got the rare chance to tie up some loose ends with the movie
Yes, and wish we could’ve had the chance to get into more of the ideas we had for some of the characters, but we just didn’t have time to go into those stories fully. In the end, we decided to make the film about Patrick because he’s sort of always been the heart of the show and the one we ride with the most. We decided to let him weave the stories of the others together as much as we could.
Was there a particular development you had in mind for a character that you would like to have had the chance to explore but didn’t?
I was personally interested in what would happen to Dom if he had to take care of somebody else because he was always such a self-centered guy and interested in his own business. Plus, he started the show as someone who was obsessed with youth, so I was curious what would happen if he became the daddy in a relationship.
We don’t often get to see a TV series where gay men are a majority of the main characters. Given the progress we’ve made, why do you think that’s still a problem in 2016?
For one thing, people have to support gay shows. Because frankly, it is a fairly small audience in the grand scheme of things – at least in the way network executives think. So if gay audiences don’t get behind a show about gay characters fully, it probably won’t last. But I think there will be other shows with gay leads soon. It has to just be a confluence of the right factors, like the right creators who find a new kind of language and characters that resonate and feel contemporary as well as executives who are excited to be in the cultural dialogue.
For you, what’s been the best part of working on this series?
My favorite TV shows that inspired me were full of great characters who made me see something in a different way, no matter how small. So if we’ve achieved that at all than I’m really proud.