3. Sex for the female gaze.
Looking is an ideal show for that (giant) subset of women who like watching guys go at it, or simply want to see what truly unjudged, unfraught casual sex is like.

Girls kissing for male titillation has been a pop cultural mainstay at least since Rachel and Monica locked lips for Joey and Chandler on Friends. But the only prominent example of pandering in likewise fashion to the female gaze was on BBC's Sherlock earlier this year, when Benedict Cumberbatch's headscratcher of a sex icon and Andrew Scott's sissy villain Moriarty lean in for a kissus interruptus, a gag that initially seems to indulge, but ultimately scoffs at, female desire to watch two men's mutual attraction. (Straight guys being into each other is also a comedy crutch for shows like Saturday Night Live; that gag doesn't laugh at female viewers, but at same-sex affection.) Looking isn't explicit, but it has enough butt shots and chest shots and man-to-man touching and grunting that it starts to make up for the boob parade on Game of Thrones.

Moreover, casual sex on Looking is often spontaneous, delightfully promiscuous, free of romantic pressure or expectations, and between (near) equals. Not all the sex is between strangers. The stop-and-go pace of Patrick and Richie's dalliances reflects the latter's wariness about his neurotic new beau, and it's refreshing to see sex outside of the confines of monogamy and divorced from its use as a narrative shorthand for emotional instability or as a prelude to an unexpected relationship. And when sex is just sex, viewers can simply enjoy a scene of an impulsive threesome, one whose focus on male bodies and glassy-eyed lust is as hot as anything on TV.


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Do the points above for why Looking is tailor-made for female audiences would merely prove Juzwiak's and Lowder's points that the show is so divorced from the subversive potential of gay/queer culture that any old straight can identify with it? Perhaps. But the show's audience isn't entirely gay, and so hetero viewers have to find something they can identify with to continue watching. And if those assets can't be found anywhere else on TV, well, then what's the harm in looking?

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