We all love seeing a gay love story come together – but we seldom get to see the other side of that: gay breakups. Enter Darren Star’s new Netflix series Uncoupled starring Neil Patrick Harris.
In the series, Harris plays successful real estate agent Michael Lawson who is living his best life in New York City. He has great family, friend and Colin (Tuc Watkins), his partner of 17 years. All is good in the world until Colin decides it’s time to move out – on the eve of Michael’s 50th birthday no less.
After being blindsided by this news Michael has to navigate his new world as a single gay man… in his mid-40s… in New York City.
“I think the gay relationship has had its own evolution,” Harris told GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos in a recent interview. “It didn’t feel like the gay breakup story was as universal as accepted as mainstream as it has been now.”
Harris pointed out how TV shows rarely show men dealing with emotional loss, adding that Uncoupled is “from the perspective of the man’s emotions of a breakup, which is also fairly universal.”
In addition to Harris, Allen spoke to actors show co-creators Darren Star and Jeffrey Richman as well as actors Brooks Ashmanskas, Emerson Brooks, and the aforementioned Tuc Watkins, who has been a trailblazer as a gay actor. With Uncoupled, Watkins looks at this as a major moment for LGBTQ representation in entertainment.
“I’m a gay actor who’s been playing gay roles since the ‘90s and when I played gay roles in the 90s people said, you can’t be a gay guy playing gay roles, you won’t get to play the other roles,” Watkins explained. “At the same time, they said, you’re a gay guy, you don’t get to play straight roles.”
He continued to say that as things have progressed we have seen change – and we are seeing change now with projects like Uncoupled. “We don’t have gay characters who are just the gay clown or just the terribly troubled gay guy or the psychopath – we have real fleshed out character,” said Watkins. “Now, with Uncoupled, we havel come all the way to the point where it’s a cast of characters thatreally fill out the LGBTQ spectrum, and each character is a different stripe, so you don’t just got one guy in there. You’ve got several members of our community. So it’s a real big deal.”
One of those characters is Emerson Brooks’s Billy who has drawn comparisons to a character from another popular Darren Star series: Samantha from Sex and the City.
“I mean, I’m not going to stop you from saying that because I consider that a very, very high compliment for someone who’s seen every single episode of Sex in the City at least twice,” Brooks told Ramos. “I think that’s a lovely comparison.”
He added that Billy has a slightly different vibe than the sex positive icon played by Kim Cattrall. “But I think we both date the same guys,” laughed Brooks.
Speaking of other shows in the Darren Star television universe, we learned that Watkins went out for the role of “Matt” on the ‘90s prime time soap Melrose Place.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Darren Star ever since he did not hire me for the pilot of Melrose Place… so I plotted and schemed and made quick work of forcing him to hire me almost half a century later,” joked Watkins about working on Uncoupled.
Even though he didn’t land the role of Matt, Watkins did end up appearing one episode and despite Watkins’s “scheme” to get Star to hire him. Star does remember Watkins auditioning for “Matt” which was ultimately one of the first out gay characters on TV – which was a big deal at the time.
“When I think about the constraints we had in writing that character [and then] fast forward 30 years what we’re doing on this show, it’s amazing,” Star said. “That’s part of why I’m very proud of the show and just sort of how the stories we can tell today.”
Uncoupled is available now on Netflix