Tag Archives: Tuc Watkins

Uncoupled (Darren Day, Jeffrey Richman, Netflix, 2022) yo

Binged on UNCOUPLED last night, which I found glamorous, funny and moving if not quite real. It all reminded me a bit of OLD AQUAINTANCE with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins; and even more so of RICH AND FAMOUS, the Cukor remake with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen; not so much in terms of plot but in terms of tone, the world they present, and the films’ attitude to that world. The tag-line is ‘newly single, forgot how to mingle’; the drama and the comedy in the series will come from Neil Patrick Harris’ re-learning how to mingle but in a changed world of PREP and dating apps, and one where his sexual currency has been considerably diminished by his age. The innovation is partly that it’s a romantic comedy about gay men that doesn’t problematise sexuality and takes relationships and dating as its starting point; and partly that it focuses on middle-aged gay men. In the first episode we see Michael (Neil Patrick Harris) and Colin (Tuc Watkins) happily coupled for nineteen years, in good jobs, their friends and family meshed. Michael throws Colin a surprised 50th birthday party and just before the party begins Michael finds Colin has moved out of their shared apartment, without telling him, and even more importantly without telling him why. Finding out why and showing how  Michael tries to start a new life for himself is what the show is about. In terms of production, we benefit from the full Darren Day treatment. It’s a glossy and expensive-looking show. Fans of the old SEX IN THE CITY  will find a similar sensibility here – urban, sophisticated, romantic, sotto-voiced camp, low-key funny about outsized emotions and exceptional situations – and with similar attitudes to sex; a bit of a problem since what seemed transgressive in relation to women in the 90s seems rather conservative if not quite untruthful in relation to gay men in 2020 (do you know any gay men who’ve had sex only with their official partner from the age of 30-50?). Structurally, the show is interesting in that the role gay men occupy in heterosexual romantic comedies—think MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING — the witty best friend, wise and supportive, whose messy life is a counterpoint to the heroine’s is now played, expertly, by a black woman (the wonderful Tisha Campbell); so a tag relay, whose inclusion also structurally expresses degrees of subalternity. Friends of a certain age will enjoy seeing Marcia Gay Harden in the role of a middle-aged millionairess in the throes of divorce. A very bingeable show; and I’m curious to know what friends think once they see it.

José Arroyo