Let’s get the “Sex and the City” parallels out of the way first. “Uncoupled,” a new eight-episode Netflix series starring the immensely appealing Neil Patrick Harris, returns to sitcoms up to 10 years after nine seasons as the suit-wearing, womanizing Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother.”
The series centers on the romantic escapades of the emotionally chaotic but impeccably dressed Michael (Harris) & his trio of closest friends.
This includes single mother and straight talker Suzanne (sitcom vet Tisha Campbell), Michael’s partner in the multimillion-dollar Manhattan residential real estate biz; sex-obsessed Billy (Emerson Brooks), a TV weatherman who has never met a younger man he didn’t like; and self-deprecating art dealer Stanley (Brooks Ashmanskas, recently heard as the voice of Gore Vidal in the Woodward and Newman doc “The Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte, perhaps? “Uncoupled,” like “SATC,” is replete with postcard-perfect splendor pictures of New York City.
And, of course, there are the guys. Carrie and her friends didn’t date many dogs, and one suspects that this group won’t either.
After his 17-year lover, Colin (Tuc Watkins, known to daytime soap fans from “One Life to Live” and nighttime soap fans from “Desperate Housewives”), dumps him, Michael dives headfirst into the brave new world of dating apps, dick photos, and prophylactic-free sex.
He meets the first man he meets on Grindr. Gilles Marini plays a fiercely hot bisexual Italian businessman. Seriously, who gets that fortunate right away? His future scores, which include a blind date with his father’s dermatologist, are as appealing.
However, returning to the market as a homosexual guy of a certain age is no easy task in Gramercy Park (aka Michael’s drool-worthy, much-desired Manhattan neighborhood). Condoms appear to have gone the way of subway tokens.
“We’ve handed condoms and network TV back to the straight people, where they belong,” Michael’s millennial make-out partner laughs. Botox has become a sex-cessory, similar to poppers. (No spoilers… Discover that scene for yourself in Episode 5.) It’s also a poor idea to do Fireball shots during a homosexual ski weekend. The height, my dears! Is it ever a good idea to use Fireball shots?
“It’s so easy for you homosexuals,” Suzanne sighs. “Have you noticed the marriage announcement in The New York Times lately?” There isn’t a vagina or veil in site — unless you count lesbians, which I do because that’s where I’m going.” “Uncoupled” portrays it as carefree; Michael meets two hotties by actually bumping into them.
Naturally, a single collision results in a shattered toe (another lesson learned the hard way: Roller-disco can be hazardous for those of us in our 40s). But let’s hope our hero listens to the advice of his English Bulldog-wielding senior gay neighbor Jack, played by the renowned André De Shields: “I’d rather be alone than in a relationship for the sake of being in one.”
De Shields, a 2019 Tony winner for his performance as Hermes in “Hadestown,” is just one of a few Broadway stars that appear in Season 1; Harris’ vast ties to the theatre scene will almost certainly bring in many more.
(As a reminder, Harris won a Tony Award for his performance in the 2014 revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and he recently completed an acclaimed off-Broadway run as the Baker opposite Sara Bareilles in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”)
Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman appear in the opening episode, performing “Welcome to Your 50s,” a pastiche of their “Hairspray” hit “Welcome to the ’60s,” during Colin’s surprise 50th birthday celebration.
Keep a watch out for David Pittu, who plays both a mild-mannered therapist and a sharp-tongued drag queen.
Campbell and Harris will have to work hard to keep up with Marcia Gay Harden’s Claire, a cashmere-and-chunky-jewelry-clad society dame embarking on a new life, tossing off phrases like “Downtown’s for restaurants, not living” with stunning nonchalance.
But that should only lead to a sharper Season 2… which is hopefully in the works. With so many unanswered storylines following the finale, how could it not be? Please, more real estate porn and nasty martinis.