'Tales of the City' star Murray Bartlett looks back on 'Looking' criticism

"There’s a lot of pressure on a queer show to be fully representative of the [LGBTQ] community."


Words: Will Stroude

Even before Murray Bartlett signed on for the beloved role of Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver in the upcoming Netflix revival of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, the Australian actor had already cemented his place in the hearts of many gay men with his portrayal of loveable Dom Basaluzzo in HBO's Looking.

The all-too-short-lived drama about the lives of a group of gay men in San Francisco attracted a devoted following during its two-season run between 2014-2016, but faced criticism from some quarters for representing only a narrow part of the LGBTQ community.

Asked in Attitude's July issue (available to download and to order globally), whether he believes the criticism of Looking was valid, Murray admits it was "difficult" to document more diverse experiences within the confines of a 30-minute show.

"It’s tricky when you’re just focusing on a few characters," he says. "There’s a lot of pressure on a queer show to be fully representative of the [LGBTQ] community, and that’s kind of an impossible task.

Murray Bartlett as Dom Basaluzzo in HBO's 'Looking'

Looking was about this particular small group of characters, that was the seta-up. The writers tried to represent as much of the queer community as they could, but covering those stories and then trying to represent [everyone] is difficult in a half-hour show.

"I’m proud of what we tried to do [but] it’s understandable that the queer community wants to be fully represented."

The 48-year-old, who'll be the third actor to take on the role of Michael Tolliver when Tales debuts on Netflix on 7 June, continues: "It didn’t escape me that there was a lot of criticism of Looking but as a queer community we should — as well as being constructively critical, which I think is really important — be mindful to be lifting each other up and not pulling each other down because the opportunities are few.

Murray Bartlett, shot by Greg Vaughan exclusively for Attitude's July issue

"We should celebrate that first, then look at how it could be better or whether we all felt represented or not.

"I think Tales of the City does a more comprehensive job, and I hope people will like it."

Read the full interview with Murray in Attitude's July issue, out now.

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