The majority of the season focuses around Patrick (Jonathan Groff) as he struggles between his affections. Reeling from the end of his relationship with Richie (Raúl Castillo), he finds himself embroiled with his engaged boss, Kevin (Russell Tovey). Convinced that their affair is leading to something deeper, it doesn't cross Patrick's mind that if Kevin was willing to cheat on his fiancé, maybe monogamy isn't what his lover is looking for. Meanwhile, Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) is on a mission to reassemble his life after his breakup has pulled the rug out from under him. And Dom (Murray Bartlett) focuses on his new business and friendship with Doris (Lauren Weedman) after his relationship with an older man ends exactly as his sugardaddy warned it would.
At times, Looking is excruciating to watch. Its characters are flawed human beings, whose neuroses and failures are completely recognisable. As a drunken Patrick addressed the guests at his Halloween party, with both his jilted love interests present, we all knew that this could only end badly. But who hasn't been Agustin or Dom, stifling their inebriated heartbroken friend from making a potentially catastrophic show of themselves? And while many shows would have played for the drama in this situation, Looking's brooding nuanced character study allowed this to play out as it would in real life. The drama came from what was left unsaid, with the complexities of love and trust realistically internalised, played out through pauses and the camera lingering just long enough on a face to catch the tiniest flash of a look.
However, Patrick is an everyman whose flaws don't damn him like Hannah in Girls, or frustrate us like Carrie in Sex And The City. He's a born romantic without an extensive relationship history, who's stumbling through adulthood barely realising how desirable he actually is. His insecurities are endearing, though their expression are, at times, trying. But in the final episode of the season, in which he discovers that too-good-to-be-true Kevin is still using Grindr and potentially wants an eventual open relationship, his idealistic but inherently human reaction is all the more poignant for the gravity we know he has invested. His earnest but puppy-like devotion has been rewarded with anguish and regardless of any modern take on relationships, we know that for Patrick this could never be right. And the result is crushing.