Still, he finds solace in other assholes both literal and metaphorical, the latter of which includes Marcia Gay Harden’s Claire, a rich but difficult client who’s selling her condo after her own husband ran off with a younger woman. Harden’s fun in the role, though it’s admittedly galling to make such a gay icon (it’s in her name!) a droll conservative woman who makes fun of pronouns.
That said, the show can’t escape the Darren Star-ness of it all, pausing only slightly to wink at the ostentatious privilege our characters engage in before uncritically reveling in it. Frankly, it’s hard to take too much pity on Michael’s furtive attempts to reenter the dating scene when A) the hookups come easy and breezy to him over the first season’s eight episodes, and B) his biggest material worries are about whether he’ll be able to afford to buy out Colin’s half of their ornate, well-furnished Manhattan apartment. Yes, it’s a blow to see the love of your life leave you after half your life together. But the show does little to establish what they saw in each other in the first place, which makes Michael’s season-long obsessions about whether Colin is seeing someone else feel like a waste of time.
The supporting cast does a lot with a little, rendering thinly-sketched archetypes with just enough life to buoy their respective storylines. Tisha Campbell is a hoot as Michael’s business partner Suzanne. However, she’s less interesting around Harris than in her own subplot about her adult son Kai expressing a desire to finally know his birth father (something she doesn’t even know; it’s a bit of a “Mamma Mia!” situation). While the show takes a few too many potshots at Ashmankas’ weight for my liking, Stanley’s desperation to be seen and loved at his age feels like a more compelling version of the show we’re watching had we focused on him: a man who bucks the twink-centric body standards of gay dating life and who realistically suffers because of it.
In between these moments, “Uncoupled” is a bit too cloying and corny in its sitcom rhythms to land. The dialogue is light and quippy but leans too hard on creaky wordplay like “I put the ‘mono’ in monogamy” and tittering jokes about men getting breast cancer. And its moments of poignance fall flat because the stakes around its New York-rich protagonists feel so weightless (especially considering the all-too-predictable cliffhanger that ends this first season).
The best thing I can say about “Uncoupled” is that, between its frank discussions of PrEP, the logistics of anal sex, and explicit displays of Tom of Finland-esque vintage gay art, Star is at least taking advantage of Netflix’s lack of primetime prurience. But it feels too little, too late, and is hardly likely to open the eyes of anyone besides the urbane in-group it’s talking to: six-figure gays with summer houses in the Hamptons.
Full season screened for review.