I love HBO's Looking for a simple reason: I know that city, and I know those people. I was friends with Patrick, Augustin, and Dom. Doris lived across the way from one of my best friends and had an addiction to Prada purses that she could ill afford. She had the best garage sales.
The city is the one I recognize instantly, from just after the first dot com bust: when the Mission was still affordable, when you could be an artist or a musician and live in the Bay Area, when you had a friend with a job at Zuni (oh my goodness, everyone had a friend who waited tables, if they weren't waiting tables themselves.)
oMa was still lined with delightfully seedy clubs and the Stud featured a night every Thursday for trans people. We actually did end up at the End Up; and we gathered at Doc's Clock after playing a rock show. The Folsom Street Fair was still a thing. (I know it's still a thing, but it's a different thing now.) I really miss that San Francisco.
The show is supposedly set in 2014 but all its sensibilities mark it as being a piece of retro nostalgia. Even the video game the Patrick is working on looks more 1999 than 2013. The locations, the fashions, all evoke the slouchy, simple time of the early 2000's.
Nostalgia isn't the only reason to love the show, obviously, and other critics have pointed out its pleasures, such as how its non-political nature is inherently progressive in depicting gay men as normative as straight men; or how it contains unexpectedly feminist features. But as much as I enjoy the show, to me it feels so specific that I'm not sure if a larger audience will relate to the characters and the setting, in a city that doesn't really exist anymore. I hope I'm proved wrong because I want to keep getting my SF fix on a regular basis.