Netflix Review ‘Uncoupled’

By: 
Ben Miles

“Uncoupled” a new Netflix romcom by Darren Star and Jeffery Richman and starring Neil Patrick Harris as Michael, a high end New York City real estate broker, whose partner Colin (Tuc Watkins), a successful investment banker, has left him uncoupled after a seventeen year relationship. This all occurs on the eve of Colin’s 50th birthday, wherein Michael has planned a celebration that Colin wants no part of and has asked Michael not to promote or produce and to which Michael deceptively agrees.

If this rings of Star’s late 20th century series “Sex in the City” it’s because it could easily be titled “Gay Sex in the City.” The romcom situations are similarly situated and cleverly conjured, not just in the high life setting of New York City but also in the explicit (even more explicit than “Sex in the City”) sexuality. So explicit (graphic is perhaps the more appropriate term) is the sexuality that this writer was made uncomfortable in several of the scenarios (rectum expansion injections?)

Though the performances are credible and courageous, for me they are so revealing that they are embarrassing, as if I had walked in on a moment of physical intimacy that I did not invite, incite or desire. Much of “Uncoupled” can be placed in the category of TMI, To Much Information. Like Star’s inventive “Sex and the City,” New York provides the perfect urban setting for the carefree, but far from cost free, nightlife that the Big Apple is known for.

Like the long running CBS television series “Blue Bloods” the cityscape serves as a costar of sorts for “Uncoupled.” But while TV’s “Blue Bloods” might be rated PG, with parental guidance advised, “Uncoupled” has a well earned an “R” rating and is recommended for mature audiences only.

But aside from the explicit gay sexuality of “Uncoupled” there is an admirable ensemble of cast members, including a unique turn by Marcia Gay Harden as Claire, a wealthy sixty-something diva divorcee whose husband has left her for a woman young enough to be his daughter. This hard to like character ((at first, anyway) gives us the opportunity to see the challenges of re-entering the dating scene after a lifetime of marriage and monogamy.

Additionally, the cast offers authentic performances by Tisha Campbell as Michael’s unhappily uncoupled friend and business associate Suzanne. Also, there’s the sadly comedic performance by Brooks Ashmanskas as Michael’s art gallery-owning friend and Emerson Brooks portraying Billy the weatherman who parlays his good looks and nominal fame as a weather forecaster into opportunities to be a serial one night stand gay man.

With most of the approximately half hour episodes of “Uncoupled” written by Jeffery Richman and Darren Star and with most of directorial duties split between Andrew Fleming and Zoe Cassavavetes, “Uncoupled’s” first season consist of eight shows. Although we are left with cliffhangers and unresolved issues, Netflix has yet to commit to a second season of “Uncoupled.” After all, commitment, as the first season of “Uncoupled” suggests, isn’t easily made.

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