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Uncoupled (Netflix Series)

I was really looking forward to this Netflix show ever since the first promos came out. Sadly, I have to say that the show really doesn't live up to its expectations. Created by one of the co-creators of 'Sex and The City' This show also invariably kept reminding me of the similarities with the former show characters, except here, except for Neil Patrick Harris, none of the other characters are actually flushed out and its only towards the end that we get to see a little bit of a character in any of those. 

The plot is simple. Michael, a real estate agent, has been together with his boyfriend of 17 years Colin. On his 50th birthday, Colin suddenly leaves without giving a single explanation on the reason of break up and this devastates Michael. His support system are his two best gay friends Billy, a TV weather presenter, who is more than happy to have a different Twink in his arm every night and Stanley, a romantic art dealer always complaining about not having a boyfriend. Thrown in the mix is Michael's work partner Suzanne, a single successful black mother who brings in the sass and fun. Michael is invariably thrown into the gay dating scene which has drastically changed since he last went out on a date. Its all about Grindr, online profiles, naked pics etc and we see next few episodes on Michael trying to navigate through meeting some potential dates, which constantly nagging about his ex Colin while sipping expensive cocktails in rich parties. The only other important character comes in the form of a real estate client, a lady who was suddenly dumped by her husband for a younger woman and who now needs to sell her apartment. The prospective client somehow has parallels with what Michael is going through in his life. The 8 episode show goes on with similar snippets and its only in the last two episodes, we do see some character development of Billy, Stanley and also Suzanne who apparently have a lot more to them than just being Michael's support system. And just when Michael is starting to get used to the idea of him having been dumped, he has a shock in store for him, presumably fodder for a follow-up season.

The show is definitely about the upper class, rich people life in Manhattan, where even though Michael is in this throes of misery, his life is still one packed with one posh party after another, attended by cool friends, expensive sets and drinks. You may think economic crisis is happening outside but not with these people, because somehow them cribbing about not having a boyfriend seems to be much less of a problem for general audience. There is absolutely no mention of life outside Michael's bubble of super wealthy rich people. Sure at certain points, he does give lectures to his prospective sexual partners about AIDS quilt and all. But other than that the show is completely superficial with perfect bodies, all the money in the world, hot gay men, just no love. I mean. I personally have no problems with shallow shows like these and I have in the past even enjoyed them, but the show being shallow is not the only problem with this one (which I am willing to ignore). But its the very bland characterization of Michael and everyone else around him, which is my issue. The show lacks emotional groundedness. We see Michale cribbing about not understanding why Colin left him but not at any point, do we feel for him. It takes a couple of episodes of getting used to the tone of the show and it starts to become better. Te best thing about the show was Michael and Suzanne's chemistry, but even with them the zany one-liners, which shows like this depend on, were clearly missing. I didn't laugh or even smile at any single point. To be fair, Uncoupled does offer enough genuine sweetness to keep its slight mustiness from curdling into bitterness. Its tone is mostly light, with most episodes sending Michael on breezy, low-stakes misadventures and disappointing sexual escapades; but the show never tries to even call out how much of a flawed character Michael actually is. We do get to see some real hot bodies and men, both old and young; so that's a winner. The show also successfully show ageism, where even though these men in their 40s complain about being old and what not, but that doesn't stop Michael from ew-ing about the fact that an older neighbor of his is trying to hit on him (until he finds out the reality).

Overall, the show is strictly alright. Intended for people old enough that they no longer feel as cute and hip as they once did, but not yet old enough that they’ve stopped minding, the show could have been so much more than being lifeless and grounding. We all love a good laugh at rich people's miseries, but give us some more reasons beyond just that. We deserve a better show than this flat, unfunny fizzy take on gay dating scene for single men in 40s. Surely, my review makes it feel that its terrible, but I would still recommend for you to go watch this. Its my rocket high expectations, that killed it for me. I bet its not as bad as I have made it sound. (6/10)

Comments

ILHiker said…
I had much the same reaction to the show. It wasn't that comedic, it was upper class and hard to relate to, I didn't warm to any of the characters so had no one to root for. Yet, it was well written and well acted, and I liked that kernel of a middle aged return to dating, and even more the difference in the AIDS generation and the generation that came of age in the era of great treatments and also avenues of societal acceptance and abundant role models. There's a terrific series in those ideas. I would have liked the tone to have been either more dramatic or more comedic, and the reasons for the breakup to have either stayed completely in the dark or more fully explored. It's something that is worth a watch but I don't think many people will fall in love with it.

I made the mistake of re-watching Los Novios De Mi Madre on youtube yesterday morning. It's good, but the ending is just a gut punch and angering, much like the one near the end of Kapgang. I keep saying it, so why don't I do it and spend some time solely on comedies?!
Golu said…
I completely agree with your sentiments. It should have been a drama or more full on comedy

Regarding the short film that you mentioned, I have not seen that but it does sound interesting ! And yes, I wish I could also spend more time on comedies. If you have some recommendations please do pass along.
ILHiker said…
My Fake Boyfriend is a new one that amused, and The Perfect Wedding is always a favorite, though I categorize that more as a romantic comedy than plain old comedy. Same with Breaking Fast, both the short and full length.

For ridiculous comedy I love Eating Out and like the sequels OK, scared my cats laughing at Another Gay Movie and the sequel was fair, and I'd add Longhorns to that group.

I've re-watched You Should Meet My Son (stay away from the sequel) and Make the Yuletide Gay many times and still find them funny and uplifting.  It's not related, but in my brain E-Cupid is a very good sequel to Yuletide.  I'd add the 10-year Plan and Hold Your Peace to this group as well.

The Wedding Banquet, Baby Steps, Eat With Me all capture the family visit culture clash in different ways.  There's a bunch more in this category, including a couple of Muslim moms.  I remember one British and one's Canadian, but not the names.

From my spanish language exploration, Hazlo Como Hombre, Peyote, The Way He Looks and the short I Don't Want To Walk Back Alone.

A short that reliably amuses me is The Support Group by Kevin Slack (dang, no longer on his Vimeo channel).  Too many shorts out there...I can't think of the one where the guy invites his family to him and his boyfriend's for an announcment.  The sister is excited, her husband goofy, and the mother unaccepting.  Turns out the announcement is not an engagement but that the guy has a (treatable) cancer.  Mother blames the boyfriend for it.  It sounds dramatic but is hilarious.  Him (red-headed teen is nervous about this first date)--strong as the actor is, the parents steal the show.  The One You Never Forget goes well with that.  Tyler has a fun precocious kid.  Tonight It's Me is hilarious and a little creepy.  Gorilla is so weird and almost mythic.  Withough a Mom makes me laugh--two gay dads worrying they can't support their jock straight son through his first heartbreak.  The Favor kind of annoys me but makes me laugh.

Violet's Visit is an Aussie oldie.

Not movies, but two very short-lived TV series: Outland (Aussie LGBTQ sci fi group) and Partners (US network comedy with a high joke density).

Golly, I shudder to think how many movies I've seen that didn't immediately come to mind and wish I could think of more than just the ones I've watched more than once.  As for me, for now I'm going to catch up on the last season of Drag Race All Stars, which I saved but haven't seen yet. 
Golu said…
Oh man!! Thats quite al its that you were able to come up with. Its only after reading that I realize I have seen quite a few of them. Sadly, I wouldn't have remembered half the names that you have. You have some real good memory , my friend.
I will have to look out for some of these shorts that you have mentioned. I am quite intrigued.

Have you seen the Aussie show: Please Like Me. Its one of my favorites. Dry humor but sooooooo good. Also 'Vicious' from UK. Another one of my favorites. I have seen the first episode of that show like 20 times. lol
edward said…
I quite enjoyed the series, as there's practically nothing out there representing gay men in their 50's. Plus I enjoyed the escapism of wealthy New Yorkers. Gave me some nostalgia for Sex in the City. It was also a fairly painless watch, more than I can say for another Netflix series Tales in the City. Ugh
Sailor Maan said…
We liked it too, and actually laughed quite a lot.
Before anything else: we are 40, and in a relationship since 17years. So the whole "this is a fiction, any resemblance to existing blablabla" my ass, this series wanted to traumatize us!!! But they kept it on the light side. Which made it an easy watch but also prevented us to really feel for Michael. Except for the break up with no reason, Colin can go to hell. Then we couldn't really relate with the characters, upper class and gay scene focused. Although I wouldn't mind relating more with upper class lol.
The change in the dating scene was really fun to watch (and instructive... OMG do you really need a dick pic on grindr lmao???!!). On the opposite I loved the scene when the old gay neigbhour sayed "you're only 40, you still have your life ahead of you". So refreshing and heartwarming, in a gay world where 30 is already considered old. Claire and Suzanne were really good characters too (or should I say good in a horrible way in the case of Claire).
We'd happily watch the possible season 2!
Miisu said…
Have you seen "The Impastor" - ? (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4543708/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0)

I don't know if this comedy series is funny from anyone else's perspective, but it's a very light watch and made me laugh quite a few times. Although I've seen its German non-gay version "Sankt Maik" (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6270048/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0) and loved that one more, "The Impastor" still has a good selection of comical situations. Yes, it's silly and over-acted, and village-drama-clubby at some points, but when I found it, it was exactly what I needed.

I wish "The Impastor" team had a chance to actually finish-finish their work as "Sankt Maik" did (the German TV channel RTL told in advance that S3 will be the last one, so all the loose ends were solved and the finale was a good one). "The Impastor" just had the two seasons and the ending of S2 was so open-promising.... dammit. I'd really like to know what happens next, asking nicely and stuff :D
Golu said…
oh wow!! Such a nice day to wake up to some beautiful comments by my friends here
@Edward: Tales of the city was such a yawn and yes I agree this one is way better compared to that , for sure
@sailor maan: OMG! The 17 year similarity must hav been an interesting fact for you. For me, since I live in New York, the whole superficial upper class gay scene is too close to hit home. I personally don't know any such people but I know of quite a few who would fall intros category. I agree that it is a mindless watch

@miisu , I have not heard of any of these shows. I will have to check them out. I wonder if they are available on my usual suspects website
ILHiker said…
Impastor looks awful--in exactly the way I like. I'll definitely keep an eye out for it.

I, too, would watch a second season of Uncoupled.

Haven't seen Tales. I don't like to watch adaptations of my favorite books--it messes up the images I have in my own head. Not even LOTR.

Speaking of older men--I'm really looking forward to All Kinds of Love, and not just because I"m a Matt Montgomery fan. It sounds like some similar subject material to Uncoupled.

I live in a small rural town and have always been single, so marriage and divorce and city life are all foreign to me. So is having someone to watch movies with, which makes this really enjoyable for me.
Miisu said…
Well, now I actually finished watching Uncoupled - liked many parts of it, but not everything. The dialogue where they said that being in a relationship just for the fact of being in a relationship is pointless was a very good point. Then the fact where the milk frother appeared and Michael and Luke discover they prefer their coffee differently - first sign that this is not your person. A wise woman once told me that the easiest way to find your person is to ask how they take their 1) coffee or 2) eggs. Yes, it's possible to have conversations with different-egg-and-coffee people, to work with them side by side, but in case of a crisis they just aren't on your side, full stop. I wish I'd known that sooner.

I also liked the portrayal of women - Suzanne was bold with her issues and all, Claire was spot on hag-whose-husband-left-her, Michael's mother I'd rather not see, thank you very much, and please-please-please MORE Tamala Jones, asking very nicely.

Funny how I seem to find some side characters that really grab my attention so well that I almost forget about the protagonists. Here it was Stanley, who was so well written and easy to empathize with.

And I've become a kitchen pervert within the last few weeks since I'm not very happy with my own kitchen and looking for ideas and solutions for how to make it better and more "mine". Their kitchens had some stuff - beside the milk frother - that I'd like to try.

P.S! Where can I sign up for Colin hate club?
P.P.S! Have you seen "They/Them" yet? A good surprise, I'd say.
Golu said…
Thats some good views on Uncoupled and yes, lets join Colin hate club. I wish they had shown a little more on why he suddenly left. When someone has been with you for 17 years, you surely expect a little more courtesy than being completely blind sighted and still not knowing the reason.

'They/Them' is on my list now and I should be watching it in the next few days soon.
Golu said…
@ilHiker - do not even watch Tals, especially if you have seen the original trilogy. This was such a downer after that.

Like you , I watch all these shows and movies by myself.
Miisu said…
I don't know anything about the creative team and writers behind Uncoupled, but I sense that at least one of them has had an experience with a clinical narcissist (chrissake - I'm like that little boy in "The Sixth Sense"! "...I see narcissists...") and tries to warn others by showing the examples of their trademark manipulation tools. And that anyone who are ghosted by them should be happy - the garbage took itself out, marvellous! That's why this Colin character pisses me off so much - he left, sneaking out like a cowardly thief, wtf with the couples' therapy BS, wtf with taking a dog, why the effing fck did he still keep the key to their apartment?! Gosh, what a piece of garbage.

I'm really looking forward to S2, too - mainly because I want to see who the father of Kai is. I'm ready to bet it's the lovely gay Italian dude, who had Michael and Suzanne show him the available apartments.

Btw - there's a really adorable period series out, "Hotel Portofino", just S1 so far, but they are already shooting S2. 1926, the British in Italy enjoying la dolce vita, beaches and palm trees, amazing outfits, music, porcelain dishes, authentic interior design... bellissima! And there's a gay infatuation, carefully hidden, as the time requires. If there were a "most beautiful post-traumatic kiss" award, Rocco Fasano and Assad Zaman should totally receive it! And I'm still drooling over those long beaded necklaces and Oxford shoes :D
Golu said…
OMG !! "I'm ready to bet it's the lovely gay Italian dude, who had Michael and Suzanne show him the available apartments. " Now that would be a scandal. and I actually wanna believe you on this

Interesting info about 'Hotel Portofino'. Is there anyway to get access to just that kissing scene.
Is that a typical gay series or a regular one with just a few gay undertones?
Miisu said…
Indeed - everything points to the direction of that Italian dude. Kai looks a lot like him (and still living with his mother, so Italian!), he's looking for an apartment on his own (if he had business in the US, he would have stayed in a hotel, or his company or US business partners would have arranged his accommodation) - and the look on Suzanne's face when she goes to that restaurant and looks inside :P It's the Italian dude, mark my words :D

"Hotel Portofino" is a feel-good-summery-post-WWI period drama, the main focus is on the British lady who runs the little luxury hotel. But she also has a son Lucien who's been through the sh*t of the war and he has a friend Anish, who was with him on the battlefield and is now staying in the hotel, both as a guest of the family and as a doctor. At first there are hints that maybe there's something more than just a wartime friendship between Lucien and Anish... then they get threatened and chased by fascists and rescued by a very handsome anti-fascist Gianluca... then there's another chase scene in the night where things get pretty scary... that one is followed by the post-traumatic kiss. (And then there's the daytime "follow me" scene afterwards) The season ends with Anish and Gianluca leaving for Torino to join the resistance to Mussolini's fascist BS. But Anish has confided in a friend and admitted having feelings for Lucien, who's engaged to a girl, but not that interested in her, just doing what the parents expect him to do. So it's sort of a history-costume-relationship-drama with a bit of crime and a few gay undertones. There's a painting that makes a few men cook up some very interesting schemes, a box full of anti-fascist pamphlets that has a very interesting journey - and loads of handwritten letters.

I googled the scene, but it seems that particular scene is not cut out by fans yet - although both scenes occur in S1E4, if you find the whole series. A very pleasant watch since all the good characters are relatable, good looking and well dressed :P
Golu said…
Sounds good actually. Now only if I can get some time :)

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