Review by Sean Boelman
The thing about streaming series is that their bingeable nature can sometimes make them feel more like a longer movie than an ongoing series. That is the case with the Neil Patrick Harris starring vehicle Uncoupled, a genuinely funny and insightful rom-com that will quickly join the LGBTQ cinematic canon.
In the series, NPH plays a middle-aged gay man whose longtime partner suddenly decides to leave him, putting him back on a dating market that is inhospitable to men his age. Break-up stories like this tend to be extremely relatable, and it’s nice to see it made even more compelling by the representation.
This premise would have made for a great weekly sitcom, or a very solid feature, but with its eight thirty-minute episodes, it’s in a weird middle-ground where it leaves you wanting for more. Every single moment of what we get is amazing, but there are lots of subplots that aren’t as developed as one would have hoped.
The show does an excellent job of exploring a side of the LGBTQ community that isn’t often discussed in popular media. But perhaps more interesting is how the series completely dissects stereotypes and taboos among the gay community. This isn’t just some cutesy rom-com with characters that happen to be gay — it’s a fundamentally gay story.
In terms of humor, there are some moments that are universally funny and others that are more tailored to LGBTQ audiences. It definitely doesn’t pull any punches with regards to how it addresses the community, but its rather straightforward story will allow it to be accessible even to straight audiences.
The characters in the series are also extraordinarily well-developed. All too often, even in LGBTQ media, the characters feel like caricatures more than actual individuals, but that is not the case here. Even the humorous side characters have legitimate arcs, and while one of them does feel somewhat tacked on, it’s still more than we usually see.
Harris gives what is a career-best performance in a role that he brings so much authenticity to. It’s a role the likes of which we have seen dozens of times before — the person who has been broken up with and is torn between their remaining love for their ex and their desire to get over them — but it’s approached in such an authentic way here that it works.
Uncoupled has a pretty simple premise, but it is the unique perspective with which it is made that allows it to work. Neil Patrick Harris is without a doubt the biggest draw for this show, and rightfully so, because his performance is downright extraordinary.
Uncoupled streams on Netflix beginning July 29. All eight episodes reviewed.