Yet he finds solace in other arseholes both literal and metaphorical, the latter of which includes Marcia Gay Harden’s Claire, a rich but difficult client who sells her apartment after her own husband runs off with a younger woman. Harden is fun in the role, though it’s admittedly disgusting to turn such a gay icon (it’s in her name!) into a blunt 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. Honestly, it’s hard to sympathize too much with Michael’s covert attempts to re-enter the dating scene when A) hookups come easy and breezy to him over the course of the first season’s eight episodes, and B) his biggest material concerns is about whether he can afford to buy Colin’s half of their ornate, well-appointed Manhattan apartment. Yes, it is a blow to see the love of your life leave you after half of your life together. But the show does little to establish what they saw in each other in the first place, making Michael’s season-long obsession with 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 support their respective storylines. Tisha Campbell is a blast as Michael’s business partner Suzanne. However, she’s less interesting around Harris than in her own subplot about her grown 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 taste, Stanley’s desperation to be seen and loved at his age feels like a more compelling version of the show we’d see if we’d focused on him: a man who pays money. 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 awkward and corny in the sitcom rhythms to land. The dialogue is light and wry, but leans too heavily on creaky puns like “I put the ‘mono’ in monogamy” and laugh-out-loud jokes about men getting breast cancer. And its moments of poignancy fall flat because the stakes surrounding its New York-rich protagonists feel so weightless (especially given the all-too-predictable cliffhanger that ends this first season).
The best 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 at least capitalizes on Netflix’s lack of primetime prurience. But it feels too little, too late, and it’s unlikely to open the eyes of anyone other than the urban group it speaks to: six-figure gays with vacation homes in the Hamptons.
Full season shown for review.