This is something of a golden age for LGBTQ+ content on television, as the new Netflix series Uncoupled makes clear. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as a man in his 40s who unexpectedly has to start over when his long-term partner dumps him, it is, by turns, very funny and deeply poignant. Like all great series of this type, and particularly a Darren Star creation, it is populated with a wide variety of characters.
Though there are no true villains, per se, it is nevertheless helpful to examine these individuals through the lens of likability, in order to gain a greater appreciation for how complicated they are.
Tyler is one of the series’ most amusing characters, particularly since he takes a great amount of pleasure in needling Michael about the way that his life seems to be falling apart. As a millennial, he sees Michael as too old and too uncool to be much of a threat, which is why he seems to go out of his way to get on the other man’s nerves so much.
He has an uncanny knack for knowing just the thing to get under Michael’s skin, whether it’s saying that he is showing his age or that he isn’t going to land a lucrative client.
From the moment he appears, Colin makes it clear that he is going to be a fascinating character, arguably one of the best examples of LGBTQ+ representation in television. Though not a villain, it’s clear that he has a great deal of trouble really expressing how he feels, particularly to Michael.
And, while he has his own good reasons for calling it quits, the way in which he does so – out of the blue, with no warning – means he deserves to be seen as one of the series’ least likable characters.
Jack manages to not only be one of the most likable characters in the series; he is also just one of the best all-around. He has lived a long life and seen a lot of things, and this allows him to be full of powerful wisdom that he likes to impart to Michael. And, while he has clearly suffered a great deal of loss, this doesn’t mean that he’s bitter. If anything, it makes him kinder.
In fact, he is one of those who leads the charge in telling Michael that he needs to start moving on with his life and not spending it mired in his own grief.
Part of what makes Uncoupled one of the best series currently streaming on Netflix is its plethora of great supporting characters. One of these is Claire, played by the very talented Marcia Gay Harden. Like Michael, she has endured a very hard breakup – in this case from her husband of many years – and this automatically gives her a certain amount of likability.
What’s more, though she has every reason to be bitter, she nevertheless proves herself quite capable of opening up and befriending Michael, despite the fact that he works for her.
Uncoupled is poised to be one of the best LGBTQ+ centered shows on television, and a lot of that is due to the strength of its characters. Lisa, for example, is Michael’s mother.
Though she can tell her son the truth even when he doesn’t want to hear it, it’s clear that she has totally accepted him for who he is. She’s more upset about his breakup with Colin than he is and sometimes even seems to like him more. She has a warmth and a charisma that make her one of the standouts, even though she only appears in a couple of episodes.
After the breakup, Michael decides that he needs to resume dating, and so he has a one-night-stand with an Italian businessman named Paolo. Though their fling is very brief, it’s clear that Paolo is a very likable character. He has a warmth and a charisma that makes him irresistible to Michael, and he seems to genuinely like him.
Even though the two of them only share an afternoon together, it’s a bond that proves very helpful to Michael as he tries to start making himself available to other men.
Billy is another of the many great side characters that appear in this series. Unlike Michael, who is often very serious about his feelings, Billy seems to just take pleasure in life and the various things that it offers. Known for his habit of dating younger men, he also doesn’t seem to let himself get hung up on emotions or feelings or the messiness of life, although he does face some insecurity about how he is perceived by his friends as being shallow or a narcissist.
For this reason, he is often a great balance to Michael, who is criticized for being overly thoughtful and taking things too seriously, and his obvious fondness and support for his friend help to explain why he emerges as one of the series’ most likable characters.
Billy isn’t Michael’s only friend, because he also has Stanley. Though he can be a bit of a culture snob, it’s still true that Stanley is very loyal to Michael, even when the latter doesn’t necessarily deserve it.
He is willing to speak frankly to Michael about what he’s doing wrong and what mistakes he’s making, but through it all it’s abundantly clear that he genuinely cares about him and wants what’s best for him. Indeed, it is Michael’s great luck that he is surrounded by such loving and compassionate friends.
There’s no question that Michael is one of Neil Patrick Harris’s best characters. He brings out the remarkable complexity of this individual, a man who can be both very warm and friendly and yet relentlessly self-centered and focused on his own big emotions.
As the series goes on, however, he gradually comes to recognize and come to terms with some of the less palatable parts of his personality. What’s more, there’s something about the way that he re-enters the dating pool that makes him even more inherently likable.
Tisha Campbell brings her considerable comedic talents to the character of Suzanne, Michael’s best friend and work partner. She is one of the people that he knows that he can always count on, no matter what’s going on in the world and in his life.
In fact, it is precisely her loyalty to him that makes her so likable. However, it’s also the case that she seems to take so much pleasure in life that it’s impossible not to fall under her spell, and it’s clear from the way that the other characters respond to her that they also find her very charming and likable.