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HBO cancels 'Looking,' will air 'final chapter' as special

HBO cancels 'Looking,' will air 'final chapter' as special
Will Looking's Patrick (Jonathan Groff, left) and Richie (Raul Castillo) end up together? HBO, which has canceled the show, has promised to air a "final chapter" as a special. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

There will be no third season for HBO's gay-themed series "Looking," which has been canceled, HBO announced March 25.

Instead, a "final chapter" will be aired as an HBO special in order to wrap up the show's various storylines, it said.

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"After two years of following Patrick and his tight-knit group of friends as they explored San Francisco in search of love and lasting relationships, HBO will present the final chapter of their journey as a special," HBO said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing this adventure with the shows loyal fans."

An HBO spokeswoman said more details about the special -- such as its length and air date -- are not yet available.

The news will no doubt be met with varying degrees of regret and derision by the gay community, which has largely been split over the series and whether it represented gay culture and lives in an interesting, accurate and entertaining way.

But it should also be met with a sense of loss by anyone who believes unapologetic and unexoticized treatments of gay lives, emotions, missteps and triumphs deserve a place in the country's ever-changing pop culture conversation.

The show may have had pacing issues, and it certainly reveled in the nuances and emotion of everyday moments in a way that left some action-seeking viewers less than impressed. At times, I found myself struggling to like Patrick, the show's protagonist whose frustrating, neurotic self-centeredness too often took center stage.

But by using universal themes of human love and loss and developing its characters outside the well-worn grooves of television's flamboyant sidekicks and catty provocateurs of the past, "Looking" was charting new ground.

It was also broaching subjects relatively untouched by television before, such as the HIV prevention treatment PrEP, and in doing so placed HIV within its modern context more so than any other show on television.

The show had earned some critical acclaim as a portrait of young gay men living amid swift cultural changes sweeping across the country, but was never able to gain the audience size needed to survive. Its sophomore season was largely viewed as a bet on the buzz it had generated, rather than its initial ratings -- a bet that apparently didn't pan out.

However, the show also had a passionate -- if limited -- following, which probably prompted the commitment by HBO to a special to conclude the series.

The last episode of the second season, which aired on Sunday, raised more questions than it answered. Namely, will Patrick end up with Richie or continue to wallow in his dysfunctional relationship with Kevin?

Fans are sure to tune in to find out. And hopefully, the show's producers will take their final opportunity with "Looking"'s cast to drag a few more gay TV taboos out into the open.

What do you think about "Looking" being cancelled?

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