“Looking” at Agustin

I’ve said in an earlier post that I find Agustin a frustrating, whiny character. His coldness toward his friends and even his boyfriend Frank are off-putting and make him a difficult figure to engage with as a viewer.

As the series has progressed, however, he grows more and more interesting. His approach to life is an almost-perfect foil to Patrick’s. Unlike Patrick, who labels individuals and actions into phony categorizes, Agustin takes the opposite approach.

After he and Frank engage in a three-way with another young artist, Frank asks if he and Agustin are now one of “those couples,” to which Agustin replies that they can be whatever they want to be. He evades labels, and instead acts according to his desire rather than binding himself to a type.

This philosophy is an interesting one to see play out. As someone who repels labels himself, he is drawn to those who do plainly describe themselves, like with his friend C.J. the sex worker. Agustin extrapolates C.J.’s line of business into C.J.’s entire identity, and views everything C.J. does as somehow representative of the sex worker personae.

To further this complexity, and reveal Agustin’s own hypocrisy, as he, Frank, and C.J. experiment in intimacy, Agustin is perfectly comfortable allowing C.J. to videotape he and Frank together – yet when he later records Frank and C.J. kissing, his seething jealousy is palpable. By not defining the terms of his relationship with Frank, he created an openness he may not have even been prepared for – and he regrets that.

While it is still a fresh storyline, his immediate repulsion to the Patrick-Richie relationship is very intriguing. He is quick to call out the romance as Patrick “slumming,” an accusation which at first comes across as harsh, but at the same time, nobody knows Patrick better than Agustin. Even we have only been with these characters a handful of weeks; Agustin has known him since college.

Agustin’s confrontation of Patrick also carries an interesting subtext; he lashes out at Patrick, but when Richie comes up, Agustin tries to backpedal and brush it aside. On one hand, he may have simply realized he’d gotten caught and was trying to get out of it. On the other, though, Agustin may have some long-standing resentment and frustration with Patrick, and was in a way trying to save Richie from the pain he feels Patrick would inevitably cause him. If Agustin can spot Patrick’s slumming so easily, Patrick has probably done this before – enough that Agustin recognizes the signs.

While he is in some ways unpleasant and even painful to watch, Agustin plays an intricate role in Looking through both his relationship with others, and his own struggles of identity.

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