Uncoupled Is a Gay Rom-Com Stuck in the Sex and the City Era
OThe oldest critics against the Sex and City franchise is that it isn’t really about women. Some viewers, citing the four central characters’ promiscuity and frank talk about their casual hookups, have concluded that they’re secretly avatars for gay men like creator Darren Star and executive producer Michael Patrick King. The theory, which is predicated on retrograde ideas regarding men, women and sex that was also endorsed by the creator Darren Star, erases all voices from the numerous women who contributed to the series. Unfortunately, it makes one mistake: It assumes that there is no such thing as a “sexy” woman. SATC debuted, in 1998, it would’ve been impossible, even on HBO, to make an equally blunt show about queer sexuality.
Fast a quarter century later, two American Iterations of Queer as FolkKing was responsible for overseeing Carrie Bradshaw’s brand. It’s as Simple As ThatStar made a TV comedy about gay men that is TV-MA. Created together Modern Family Jeffrey Richman (alum), starring Neil Patrick Harris and available to stream on Netflix starting July 29. The UncoupledThis documentary chronicles the misadventures middle-aged men who seek men in Manhattan. It’s a faster-paced, more entertaining show than King’s inert SATC This sequel has many of same annoying defects as the original, such overly stylized dialog, poorly developed characters and bad cases of affluence.
Brooks Ashmanskas portrays Stanley James and Neil Patrick Harris portrays Michael Lawson. Emerson Brooks portrays Billy Jackson in Uncoupled.
When we meet Harris’ Michael, a real estate agent, he’s in bed with Colin (Tuc Watkins), his finance-guy partner of 17 years, administering the sensual portion of Colin’s 50th birthday gift. Colin quietly moves out of his perfect apartment by the time they meet again that evening. Just before making their way to Michael’s surprise party, he breaks the bad news. The final blow comes when Colin dashes all hope of reconciliation—in a text message.
Michael’s grief is accompanied by his gay friends who drag him into the modern gay dating scene created by Grindr, PrEP. The In SATC terms, art dealer Stanley (Brooks Ashmanskas) is the lonely, career-driven Miranda of the trio and TV weatherman Billy (Emerson Brooks) the Samantha, collecting one-night stands and dispensing bawdy quips (“You’ve got to play hard to get if you want to get him hard again”). It’s fitting that sweet Michael is equal parts vanilla Charlotte and overly self-focused, analytical Carrie. Along with his work wife Suzanne (Tisha Campbell) and the imperious, superrich divorcée client Claire (Marcia Gay Harden) they’re courting, these are the people who help Michael realize that he can be kind of a handful.
But most characters lack anything approaching Michael’s depth. Colin is a mix of nice man and sociopath. Claire interprets Claire as “a…” First Wives Club cliché despite Harden’s arch, fun performance. Hookup apps aside, the Manhattan they inhabit, where everyone is wealthy and talks like they’re in a racy Neil Simon play, feels badly dated. “Don’t you just love New York?” gushes a man Michael picks up while running errands. “Grocery shopping one minute, hooking up with a hot guy the next!” And just like that… it’s as if the last 20 years of sex and the city, gay and straight, never happened.
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