In the middle of the first season of Unconnected, Michael (Neil Patrick Harris) explodes with disappointment after another promising combination turns into a disaster. “I shouldn’t be here,” he yelled during his confused date. “I didn’t know about Botoxed buttholes, and PrEP, and didn’t have a condom. I had to sit on the couch, watching TV while my boyfriend was chewing too loudly next to me. That’s the world I want.”
In part, Michael’s reaction stemmed from personal heartbreak, having recently been dumped by his partner of 17 years. But he’s equally struggling with re-entering a scene he simply doesn’t get anymore – a scene that even when it comes to meeting men at clubs, like him and Colin (Tuc Watkins) did, which involved connecting with them first on Grindr. Unconnected, from creators Darren Star and Jeffrey Richman, is aimed squarely at the Michaels of the world. As such, it can be a bit unacceptable, in the way that middle-aged people complain about how the world is always changing. But like its protagonist, it is blessed with enough witty humor and self-awareness to land in the right direction of likability.
A cozy, cozy return, for better or for worse.
The breakup, which happened during the premiere, was a real gut-punch – though not exactly a surprise, as Michael’s new single status is the entire premise of the series. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, Colin announced that he was leaving Michael just as Michael was bringing him into the lavish surprise party he had planned for him. Harris plays the role of Michael’s initial shock and devastation with the effects of restraint, and it’s hard not to hurt him as he ends the half-hour part alone in his apartment, crying. for a photo of happier times when Sam Smith sat on the soundtrack.
But it’s also hard not to think – borrowing a line from an Oscar-winning AMC lawn actress – the heartbreaking feeling it must feel good to be in a place like this. The picture of him looking inside the frame of Tiffany. He was mopping on a suede sofa in a posh Gramercy apartment with large windows overlooking a private terrace and not a single mattress in place. The animation radiates a romantic aura of its own; it’s the kind of charming photogenic sadness familiar in Nancy Meyers movies, or for that matter from the Star herself. Sex and the city.
In excruciating agony, Michael’s life is still encapsulated in one luxurious party after another, attended by stylish friends such as playboy weatherman Billy (Emerson Brooks) and his wife unlucky woman in love Stanley (Brooks Ashmanskas). These sets are wall-to-wall real estate porn, as Michael’s job is to sell the types of apartments you’ll see Heir or Billion. “I feel like I’m in one of those 1930s movies where the Depression is going on outside, but up here, it’s just Fred Astaire and cocktails and soirées,” Michael tells Claire ( Marcia Gay Harden), a particularly wealthy client, about her 5,000-square-foot penthouse. But the rest of the series is hardly anything more formidable.
Depending on your perspective, it can be a savior or a stimulant. Unconnected show minor curiosity in the eight episodes about the world outside Michael’s bubble of wealthy gay men, mostly white in their 40s, though the characters sometimes express their disdain. embarrassment or slight contempt for those who exist outside of it. Michael, a Gen Xer, complained about Millennials in his breath and at one point, preached to a younger man who had never heard of AIDS about the sacrifices “we” had made. show for future generations – though he, and the series, is self-deprecating enough to clarify a little more: “Well, not me. A little bigger. But I saw Angel! ”
At a time when Freeform’s Trash of everything is giving a more realistic rotation Sex and the cityor Peacock’s Queer as Folk is trying to build on its predecessors (which aired at the height of Michael’s pre-Colin years) by addressing difficult conversations about inclusion or trauma, Unconnected sink into the fantasy of a shabby, perfectly organized New York where no one talks politics, everyone has money and Michael’s lowest moment takes place at a posh ski resort full of people. attractive men with similar taste in dress. It’s like a comeback, for better or for worse.
Thankfully, and importantly, Unconnected provides enough real sweetness to keep its mild softness from coagulating into bitterness. Its tone is mostly lighthearted, with most episodes sending Michael about light-hearted, low-stakes failures through self-help seminars or disappointing dates. Its comedy can be a bit broad and its puns are quite cheesy. In one of the first scenes, Harris delivers an “ending” joke with a smirk so pleased I half-expected that he’ll raise his hand to hit five, Barney-Stinson style. But it’s all based on Michael’s sincere, affectionate relationships with friends who are willing to call him out when he’s petty or narcissistic; avoidable series Emily in Paris mistaken for being too engrossed in its central character to account for their significant flaws.
This is still the unmistakable Michael’s show, and one final reviewer suggests that won’t change anytime soon. But it’s such a testament to the cast’s sparkling performances and effortless chemistry that I find myself hoping characters like Suzanne (Tisha Campbell), Michael’s lovable business partner, can takes center stage as the series goes on.
Unconnected is comfort food first and foremost, for people who are old enough that they don’t feel as cute and stylish as they used to, but aren’t old enough for them to stop caring. In one episode, Michael is relieved to be able to bond with a friend his age about how “crazy” dating has become since they were kids when they learned about sex from Dr. Ruth. “I miss the clock radio,” Michael declared wryly. Not everyone will be able to relate. But if you can, Unconnected will drift down almost as smoothly as an ice-cold glass of Gray Goose.