HBO President Reveals Looking Cancellation Was “Very Painful”

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Credit: HBO

If, like me, you were left reeling at the cancellation of HBO’s Looking earlier this year, you’re not alone. An interesting, frank look at life in modern San Francisco for a trio of gay male friends, it was a wonderful mix of comedy, drama, bro-mance, friendship, and life as a twenty-, thirty-, forty-something. Oh and watching the likes of Jonathan Groff, Scott Bakula, Russell Tovey, and Raul Castillo (among others) doing their thing for half an hour every week was hardly a hardship. However, after two seasons and 18 episodes, HBO pulled the plug on the series, confirming an upcoming series finale event to tie up the series and say goodbye.

While it was a pragmatic decision to end the series due to its low ratings, HBO president Michael Lombardo revealed just how difficult it was. Lombardo appeared as part of the HBO panel at the TCA press tour yesterday (July 30). Among the discussion of HBO’s offerings for the coming television season, Lombardo reflected on Looking, and confirmed that production for the one-off series finale movie would begin production this autumn, to be screened in 2016.

Speaking to the gathered reporters, Lombardo said that “on a personal level,” the decision to end the series was “very painful.”

“I thought the show, creatively, was really doing something that I hadn’t seen on any other show, particularly dealing with gay lives,” he explained. “As a gay man, in particular, I was very proud that there was a show that felt like it was dealing very honestly and openly with gay men and their lives, without putting them into a comedic mode.”

That is certainly did and Looking quickly developed a small, though loyal following and it is because of these fans that the two-hour wrap-up was commissioned. “There were some fans that really wanted to find a finale with the storylines,” he said of the pic. “[And the writers] wanted to wrap up storytelling for the characters.”

Based on the 2011 short film, Lorimer by Michael Lannan, Looking (also created by Lannan) offered up the unfiltered experiences of three close friends living — and loving — in modern-day San Francisco. While at various stages of their lives in terms of love, life, and careers, it is their friendship that binds them together. The trio’s stories intertwine and unspool dramatically as they search for happiness and intimacy in an age of unparalleled choices — and rights — for gay men.

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Clare Sidoti

Clare Sidoti is 4 Your Excitement's Editor-at-Large. Clare has a BA (Theatre and Film Studies) from the University of New South Wales, Australia and an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK. She currently works for an NGO that runs human rights training in the Asia Pacific region. You can find her on twitter with her eclectic musings on the arts, entertainment and human rights. Some of her favourite topics to cover include Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Glee and Star Wars.
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