Andrew Rannells has defended HBO’s Looking, saying the divisive series about three gay men living in San Francisco was unfairly expected to represent every gay man’s experience.
The leading gay actor and star of shows including Girls, Glee and The New Normal, says “too much pressure” was put on the now-defunct gay drama series from the LGBT community itself.
Starring Jonathon Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett, Looking hit the airwaves back in January 2014, but came in for a fair degree of criticism over the course of its two-season run before eventually being cancelled and concluding last year with a feature-length finale episode.
Discussing the expectation placed on television shows dealing with LGBT issues, Rannalls told Vulture he witnessed a similar thing happen with his Girls co-star Lena Dunham, who was held up as a millennial feminist spokesperson when the show first debuted back in 2012.
“Too much pressure,” he explained. “I experienced that with Lena too — that Lena is somehow supposed to represent every young woman, and that’s not what she set out to do. She never claimed that.”
He continued: “I think Looking had some of that, too. These guys are just telling a story about these people! They’re not supposed to represent every gay man in America! It’s just this group of friends, that’s all.”
The comments come just weeks after the creator of British drama Cucumber, Russell T Davies, addressed the show’s failure to maintain its audience in the Attitude Heroes podcast, saying he believed viewers switched off from the first mainstream LGBT series in years because it brought home some uncomfortable truths about their own personal lives.
“There’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching television with your boyfriend and a couple on the screen start talking about their sex life and it’s you,” Davies said.
“You suddenly think, ‘Oh, turn over.’ And I think I did that on a massive scale with Cucumber.“
Despite the criticisms levelled at shows like Cucumber and Looking, Russell said depicting on LGBT stories on screen must remain a vital part of programming.
“Our vast back culture of literature, which is a wonderful thing to have in a society, is devoid of gay people. We don’t exist,” he said. “Our men and our women are not in there.”