the_men_of_looking_south_africa_posterLooking, which has been described as a grittier version of Queer as Folk, is being screened by DSTV in South Africa this May and June.

The pay satellite broadcaster has been criticised by the gay community over the years for never screening the popular Queer as Folk (which has to date still never been shown on local television) but they’re making up for it by being the first to broadcast Looking in Africa.

The eight part, 30-minute comedy-drama series is about “three friends in San Francisco who explore the fun and sometimes overwhelming options available to a new generation of gay men.”

Series creator Michael Lannan told SFGate that he wanted “to tell a very honest story, and be very honest about sexuality. We didn’t want to pull our punches about dating and sex.”

To make sure that it was as authentic as possible, the show’s cast and writers include a good number of gay men. So expect realistic scenes in the bedroom, and out.

Looking was both loved and hated when it was broadcast on HBO in America earlier this year. While the cast members were generally praised for their performances the show was also called out for its slow pace.

Despite this, the series’ viewership grew over time and it’s been renewed for a second season. The Wrap’s Jethro Nededog wrote: “Looking is a good show. It will reward viewers who can hang on beyond the first episode and can adapt to its much slower pace and more naturalistic shooting style.”

Now you’ll get the chance to make your own mind up about the much-hyped series. To get you up to speed on the characters, here’s an introduction to the men (and one woman) of Looking.


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_patrickPATRICK MURRAY (Jonathan Groff)
A transplant to San Francisco from Colorado, Patrick is a video game designer at Most Dangerous Games. Recently out of a six-month relationship (with a guy who’s now engaged), the 29-year-old is something of a “boy next door” and spends his time with buddies Dom and Agustín and surfing dating websites like OKCupid, where he’s looking for love. Actor and singer Groff is openly gay and has appeared on Broadway and in TV shows including Glee and The Good Wife. He also voiced the character Kristoff in Disney’s Frozen.


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_agustinAGUSTĺN (Frankie J. Álvarez)
Patrick’s roommate and college pal Agustín is a free spirit and struggling artist who works for another artist, while looking to be inspired for his next project. The 31-year-old Cuban was raised in the Miami area and has a boyfriend in Frank, who lives across the bay in Oakland. Looking is Alvarez’s first major role. “It’s not just penis for penis’ sake,” he told Interview about his role in the show. “There are certain vulnerable moments where, when you’re naked, it sort of intensifies that vulnerability.”


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_domDOM (Murray Bartlett)
Career waiter Dom is facing a crossroads in his life: an upcoming 40th birthday. He’s contemplating what he really wants – and that may just be opening a restaurant of his own. Dom lives with Doris and gravitates toward younger men in his romantic pursuits. Bartlett, who is openly gay, is Australian and got his start in acting in the soapy Neighbours. He also played Carrie’s “new gay friend” Oliver on Sex and the City. He told Vulture that his moustache in the show is meant to be “a nice throwback” to ’70s San Francisco. He also noted that “There’s been a resurgence of facial hair in the last few years, across the board.”


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_richieRICHIE DONADO (Raúl Castillo)
The charming thirty-something Richie is working his way up at a barber shop while manning the door at the Esta Noche bar and club. Castillo was born and raised on the Texas-Mexico border. He’s appeared on the stage and screen (in various independent films) as well as TV shows including Blue Bloods, Law and Order and Nurse Jackie. He’s straight and said that despite his parents being “old-school Mexican… they’re so excited about the show, and they’re very proud and they have been super supportive of me from day one.”


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_frankFRANK (O. T. Fagbenle)
The good-natured Frank, 31, is Agustín’s boyfriend. He plays in a band and lives across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland, where he’s trying to convince Agustín to move in with him. The multi-talented Fagbenle is a London born actor, writer, director, singer, songwriter and musician. Speaking about Looking, he told “A lot of people find these secret moments that they never see on TV, those we keep to ourselves and are spoken between the sheets, they see them spoken here on this show.”


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_kevinKEVIN MATHESON (Russell Tovey)
Kevin is Patrick’s gay boss. The 30-year-old British video game whiz – who works at Most Dangerous Games on a hot new release – is somewhat of a mystery and crosses paths with Patrick. Tovey is an openly gay English actor who is best known for playing the role of werewolf George Sands in the BBC series Being Human. In an interview with The Scotsman, Tovey said: “The only thing I can give to young gay people is that when I was growing up there were no role models that were blokey, that were men. Everybody was flamboyant and camp, and I remember going, ‘That’s not me, so even though I think I am gay, I don’t think I fit into this world.'” He’s been with his boyfriend for four years.


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_lynnLYNN (Scott Bakula)
Lynn is an entrepreneur who strikes a connection with Dom – both as a mentor and possible love interest. He’s the show’s “daddy” character and represents the generation of men decimated by AIDS in San Francisco in the 80s. Bakula is a veteran TV star. While straight, he’s played a number of gay roles, including in the recent Behind the Candelabra. When asked by Out magazine if he was surprised at his first scene in Looking, in which we meet Lynn in a steam bath, Bakula commented: “You know, we as actors are always looking for great ways to show off on camera, and it was a great scene… a great way to introduce the character. I love what that scene was about. But no, I wasn’t shocked. In terms of having my clothes off, I do that a lot.


the_men_of_looking_south_africa_dorisDORIS (Lauren Weedman)
Doris is Dom’s best friend and roommate, who works as a nurse. Described as sharp-tongued and big-hearted, Doris has become a fan favourite despite her small role in Looking. Weedman told Indiewire that she’s always had a connection with the gay community. “She [Doris} is me, really. After my first divorce, I lived with my gay best boyfriend from high school in Los Angeles for about a year. And I’ve always, always been deeply a part of the gay community. From ninth grade on, it’s been a major part of my life.”

Looking is on M-Net on Tuesdays at 10.30pm from 6 May.

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