"Being single's an attitude."
Constructed by Sex and the City creator Darren Starr and Modern Family alum Jeffrey Richman, Uncoupled chronicles the misadventures of middle-aged men seeking men amidst the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The series, debuting with a fast-paced eight episodes, feels much like Starr's previous work, though Neil Patrick Harris is no Sarah Jessica Parker.
When we first meet Harris' Michael, a semi-successful luxury real estate agent, he's in bed with Colin (Tuckering Watkins), his partner of 17 years. Colin's 50th birthday has arrived, and while everything seems gleeful under the sheets, by the time they meet that night, Colin has moved out of their apartment. He unveils the news just as the doors burst open to a massive surprise party Michael has organized. A party for a birthday Colin didn't want to celebrate.
As Michael mourns his relationship and questions his life choices, his single friends comfort him by dragging him, head first, into the modern gay dating scene. You know, the one shaped by Grindr, PrEP, and public cruising. Art dealer Stanley (Brooks Ashmanskas) is the "Miranda" of the group, while TV weatherman and local public figure Billy (Emerson Brooks) effortlessly fills the "Samantha" role, attracting younger guys as he enjoys the flexibility of one-night stands and casual hookups. Taking the comparison one step further, Michael is a fluid combination between uptight Charlotte and self-consumed Carey. However, he leans heavily towards Carey for much of the show's first season. Throw in his work wife Suzanne (Tisha Campbell), and their superrich, super demanding client Claire (Marcia Gay Harden), and Michael's support system is set.
But there is one problem: Michael is neither engaging nor endearing for about ninety-five percent of the show. And it's hard to root for his long-term dating success.
Uncoupled works hard to be modern and fresh; however, the abundance of high-profile people who are beautifully dressed and speak with unmatched eloquence make the whole foray a bit much. Even Harden's performance, by far the best in the series, is wasted on a character that screams cliché. Her every moment is a mockery of high-class society, yet her struggle to cope with her stemming divorce an unexpected point of reliability to Michael's situation.
Harris does fine here, but it's not his best work. His character, the most developed of the bunch, has a ton of baggage that requires unpacking. And while real estate numbers remain a mystery, and we aren't entirely sure how successful he is, the regular social outings are equally exhausting and unrealistic.
Outside of Michael's run of obvious red flags, this is the primary issue of Uncoupled. Sitcom tropes aside, the show, a landmark moment for the LGBTQIA+ community, is highly unrealistic and painfully dated. Michael is both unlikeable and highly toxic; his lacking knowledge of the dating scene problematically excessive and often overdone. He lacks confidence and a clear understanding of himself, refusing to look within and learn of his own issues. While the topic resonates within the community, it is often associated with immaturity, a storyline the show conveniently sidesteps. Ultimately it all still works, but if a season two is to happen, it must right a ship that has unfortunately drifted off course.
*This series is streaming globally on Netflix. All eight episodes were reviewed.