HBO’s Series LOOKING Pushes Myths About “Dirty” Foreskins

Jan 31, 2014 Posted by Nathan Blog

The second episode of HBO’s new series Looking focuses on a gay man’s anxiety about sex with an intact man for the first time.

The episode, which is titled “Looking for Uncut,” is filled with the typical uneducated stereotypes about foreskins being strange, foreign, and dirty. Series director and producer Andrew Haigh (who is British) missed an opportunity to squash myths about foreskins and hygiene, and rather than using the episode’s plot line to have an open conversation about intact men, Haigh opted to fill it with 30 minutes of the same garbage we’ve all heard before.

“Looking for Uncut” opens with lead character Patrick (played by Jonathan Groff) talking to his friends about a Latino man he’s been seeing, named Richie (played by Raúl Castillo). This prompts Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett) to begin joking about Richie being “uncut”.

Looking photo 1

“You know he’ll probably be uncut if he’s a real Mexican. Are you prepared for that?” Agustín quips.

Patrick asks, “Prepared? What’s that supposed to mean? You make it sound like I should take an evening course.”

“It’s true,” Dom chimes in.

“I’m just saying—it’s a whole different ballgame down there,” Agustín warns.

[As we all know, intact men are an alien species from an unknown planet. They don’t function the same as normal Earth men and they require an intricate and complicated ritual in order to handle the odd growth on the outside of their penis. I would recommend wearing gloves and a gas mask to protect yourself from their stench.]

To prepare himself for this foreign encounter, Patrick does an image search for intact Latin men. The results are both shocking and baffling as he stares at his computer screen. What am I going to do with that weird thing? he seems to be thinking.

Looking photo 2

During his date with Richie, Patrick is visibly anxious about the prospect of an intact penis. He drinks heavily, rambles and gets flustered, and tries to rush things to the bedroom so he can get it over with.

When Patrick pulls off Richie’s pants, he’s audibly relieved to learn that Richie is circumcised.

“I just thought that, you know, maybe you’d be uncut,” Patrick says. “I’m a sucker for cleanliness, so this is actually much better.”

Looking photo 3

Let’s all celebrate! Patrick didn’t have to dig through miles of stinky, filthy folds of skin to get to Richie’s penis. It’s a miracle that Richie’s parents cut off his foreskin so lazy, stupid partners wouldn’t have to figure it out. Whew!

Joking aside, I really am disappointed by this episode. Looking has been labeled a gay version of Sex and the City, and I can’t help but recall a pitiful anti-foreskin episode from that series, which aired in 1999. I’d hoped that 15 years later a new HBO show would be more evolved about its portrayal of intact men.

In closing, I say jeers to Looking for continuing to push the myth that foreskins are dirty and strange. The fact is that foreskins are healthy, natural, and 80% of the world’s men are intact. The U.S. population has steadily seen sharp declines in circumcision since the 1990s, and Looking missed a great opportunity to reflect those males, who are now in their 20s and are saturating the next generation of American men.

Much like the tired, regurgitated stereotypes Looking portrays about all gay men being obsessed with drugs and anonymous sex, it missed the mark by clinging desperately to outdated myths about the foreskin. I really expected more from a British director and producer. FAIL.

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