In “Uncoupled,” the first “Sex and the City” producer’s examination of gay life and love in very affluent New York, the most luxurious porn is of the pricey Manhattan real-estate sort, different sexes share the same city. The Netflix comedy mostly acts as a platform for Neil Patrick Harris, who plays the newly single protagonist who is too exhausted to form many meaningful romantic connections.
Michael, played by Harris, is shocked to learn that his longtime partner Colin (Tuc Watkins) is leaving him, and he alternately wonders what went wrong and longs for a reconciliation. He’s also a little perplexed about how to do it. Still, he’s somewhat interested by the idea of resuming some of the joys he’s missed following his protracted period of monogamy.
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Indeed, since he was single, times have changed, which causes many misinterpretations of signs and awkward interactions, particularly with the few younger men who come into his sphere. “Uncoupled,” which was co-created by Star and Jeffrey Richman of “Modern Family,”
isn’t fully committed to that dating-again story arc because Michael spends a lot of time with his close-knit group of wildly successful friends, who are also grieving the uncoupling, and his coworker (Tisha Campbell), who is working extremely hard to sell luxury apartments because he partly needs the money to maintain his independence.
With that, a different storyline involving a wealthy, demanding woman (Marcia Gay Harden in all her imperious glory) getting divorced and whose business Michael really desires is introduced. It’s a lightly drawn character, though, who alternates between acting like the type of wealthy matron who swears incessantly but fakes shock when someone dares to utter a swear word in the lobby, getting angry about her husband’s midlife crisis, and bonding with Michael over being alone.
After “How I Met Your Mother” and his numerous prior parts, the multi-talented Harris has undoubtedly earned a leading role. Still, only so much can be done with the warmed-over quality of the material and a tone that alternates between “Sex and the City” and imitation Neil Simon.
Even with the more explicit standards Netflix can provide, “Uncoupled” arrives too late to seem brave, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any entertaining situations. The old-sitcom-like elements, which might charitably be placed under light escapism on the order of Star’s other half-hour for the service, “Emily in Paris,” are only highlighted by the fact that a maid character was eliminated when an actor protested about it.
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The abruptness of Colin’s departure does lend the program some mystery. Still, the key takeaway is the unremarkable fact that middle-aged divorce is difficult, even if the least well-off person in your sphere is very wealthy. That would allow Star to visit his old haunts while experiencing them through the eyes of a different group of Manhattan friends, but it’s difficult to avoid the impression that “Uncoupled” is the TV equivalent of reheated leftovers. Or, to use the slang of these affluent zip codes, it’s similar to arriving at a glam fashion show wearing last year’s trends.
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