Neil Patrick Harris stars in Netflix’s Sex and the City-style comedy Uncoupled as a newly single gay man learning to date again. Apple TV+ goes beneath the Surface in a psychological mystery starring The Morning Show’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw, while For All Mankind reels from a crisis on Mars. Showtime’s NYC Point Gods celebrates a generation of NBA stars who developed their dazzling style on New York City streets. Shark Week continues with a special about an all-female crew of shark explorers.
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“You do not want to be gay and single in this town at our age—you’re invisible,” says a dishy art gallery owner to his newly jilted best friend. Mind you, we’re talking people in their mostly fit 40s in the elite terrace apartment world of Manhattan, where Sex and the City creator Darren Star and Jeffrey Richman (Modern Family) introduce us to Michael (a wry, vulnerable Neil Patrick Harris), a well-connected real-estate broker who’s broken-hearted when his lover of 17 years (Tuc Watkins) abruptly moves out—on his 50th birthday, announcing the news at the lavish party Michael has thrown for him. Ouch. What follows is an arch season-long pity party sprinkled with sexy slapstick, sitcom bon mots and strong female support from Tisha Campbell as Michael’s brassy co-worker and Marcia Gay Harden as a demanding and equally bereft divorced client. Diverting when it’s not being annoyingly silly or telegraphing its jokes with the subtlety of a gay greeting card, Uncoupled is a mild amusement, a slight step up from the maudlin debacle of the Sex sequel And Just Like That.
Joining the busy Apple lineup, this moody psychological mystery stars the appealing Gugu Mbatha-Raw (late of The Morning Show) as Sophie, a rich philanthropist’s wife first seen trying to re-enter a high society she can’t remember, thanks to extreme memory loss following what she’s told was an unsuccessful suicide attempt. “Sometimes it’s hard not knowing your own secrets,” Sophie realizes, as mysteries surface that make her question the supposed bliss of her marriage (to The Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and just what happened on the boat from which she may or may not have jumped. Stephan James (Prime Video’s Homecoming) co-stars in the eight-part series, launching with three episodes.
Once again, your best bet on a busy Friday for streaming is the intensely entertaining space-race drama, this week enlisting all of the best minds on Earth and on Mars to deal with the latest crisis: a drilling-site landslide disaster that has crippled communications and buried alive (or dead) several key players. Among them: veteran space traveler Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and second-generation astronaut Danny Stevens (Casey W. Johnson), whose grudge against his father figure makes their claustrophobic situation 20 meters below the Mars dust even more perilous.
Many a college hoops and NBA champion earned their stripes on the mean streets and streetball courts of New York City, and their influence as point guards helped change the NBA’s culture and the way the game is played. Among the local heroes spotlighted in this evocative documentary: Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, Kenny Smith, Rod Strickland, God Shammgod, Rafer Alston and the late Dwayne Washington.
Alison Towner has spent the last decade tagging and studying great whites and their migration patterns in South Africa. In one of the night’s Shark Week specials, she gathers an all-female crew of shark explorers to use all the tools in their kit—drones, decoys, cage and free dive—to track her missing subjects. Also on the Shark Week roster: Jaws vs The Blob (8/7c)—not the classic sci-fi film, but a feeding frenzy of young great white sharks—Clash of Killers: Great White vs Mako (9/8c) and The Great Hammerhead Stakeout (11/10c). For more shark action, check out In The Reef: Stalked (streaming on Shudder), a sequel to 2010’s thriller The Reef, a group of young female kayakers are terrorized by a great white during an expedition to a remote Pacific island.
Inside Friday TV:
- Secret Celebrity Renovation (8/7c, CBS): Survivor’s “Boston Rob” Mariano joins the design team in the second season of the celebrity feel-good show. In the opener, Bob Hearts Abishola’s Billy Gardell heads to his Pittsburgh hometown to upgrade the home of his best friend’s mom. The actor is in for his own emotional surprise when he invites Boston Rob to visit his late dad’s neighborhood bar.
- Belle Collective (9/8c, OWN): The Black female entrepreneurs of Jackson, Mississippi return for a second season of reality-TV soul baring, with professional successes tempered by personal pain, including suspected infidelity and drug addiction. Also returning to OWN: a sixth season of dating show Ready to Love (8/7c).
- Black Bird (streaming on Apple TV+): Novelist/screenwriter and show-runner Dennis Lehane writes the penultimate episode of the gripping prison drama, during which undercover inmate Jimmy (Taron Egerton) gets an earful from suspected serial killer Larry (Paul Walter Hauser)—and it’s chilling to the bone.
- RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (streaming on Paramount+): In the glitzy season finale, one of the eight former winners will be named “Queen of the Queens” with a $200,000 cash prize.
- Paper Girls (streaming on Prime Video): Time travel with a quartet of 1980s teens, “paper girls” who collide with time jumpers while on their delivery route and end up transported to the future, where they’ll meet their grown-up selves. The eight-part series is based on the popular comics.
- New streaming movies include Hulu’s Not Okay, starring Zoey Deutch as a writer who fakes her Instagram trip to Paris and gets caught in an escalating lie when a tragedy occurs right where she pretended to be; and the teen rom-com Honor Society on Paramount+, starring Mare of Easttown’s Angourie Rice and Stranger Things’ Gaten Matarazzo as ambitious high-school seniors vying for an all-important Ivy League recommendation.
- The Americans (streaming on Hulu): All six seasons of the absorbing 1980s-era spy drama are available for a midsummer binge. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell star as married Soviet spies embedded in Washington, D.C., juggling family and relationship pressures with their duty to the motherland. Among FX’s all-time best.