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Uncoupled’s Neil Patrick Harris And Brooks Ashmanskas On Balancing Camp With Other Elements Within The Netflix Show

Neil Patrick Harris is back on the small screen in a show that’ll be available for Netflix subscribers. The fan-favorite actor stars in Uncoupled, a new dramedy from the minds of Darren Star and Jeff Richman, that centers on a newly single gay man re-entering the dating world after his partner of 17 years leaves him. The show has everything, including humor, drama and heart and, of course, it also has camp. That fourth element is a powerful tool and, if used too much, it could overpower a show. On that note, Harris and co-star Brooks Ashmanskas discussed how their new series balances camp with other elements. 

I think it goes without saying that Neil Patrick Harris has had more than his fair share of experience with the cheesy and sometimes over-the-top vibes that come with campiness. After all, Harris has hosted the Oscars, portrayed Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events and played the Music Meister on DC’s The Flash. However, when I asked him how he and his colleague during the junket for Uncoupled, he admitted that he was unsure as to how the producers would balance camp with some of the other aspects of the series: 

It's something that I pondered as we were filming this season, because I wasn't sure tonally how it all would balance out. And I think though, having talented cast, like Tisha Campbell and Marcia Gay Harding, and Brooks Ashmanskas, because who are able to do like overtly funny [material], and then quickly turn it into serious dramatic pathos. I think that is a key to the success. I think this gang, plus Darren Star and Jeffrey Richmond and the writing staff knew how to balance the two. And let's be honest, that's kind of life, like life has all of it at the same time. It's not just camp, and you kind of want to watch a show that knows how to navigate the multiplicities of who we are.

The star brings up a valid point in terms of how the balancing of these elements mirrors reality. In life, there are ebbs and flows, and that’s incredibly appropriate for Uncoupled, given the story it’s telling with Neil Patrick Harris’ Michael Lawson. Crafting a tale like this can be tricky (and takes a village), but it’s definitely sweet when one can master it. 

Brooks Ashmanskas, who plays Michael’s longtime best friend Stanley James, also has plenty of experience with camp. The seasoned actor has done work for the screen and stage, with productions of The Producers and Bullets Over Broadway being some of his biggest credits in the latter category. When sharing his own thoughts on camp, he stressed the importance of an actor’s commitment to it, in addition to other elements:

I think it's also, you know, not to sound too acting student about it, it's just really committing fully to both or either tone fully so that the camp is as camp as it is, but that the sort of tragic components that come into life and into the scene are just as important. So it doesn't seem like [it’s] actually such a big shift. It's just a person who is fully into, you know, committing what's going on on the scene.

The cast does indeed balance the comedy, drama, campiness and more quite well. And if I do say so myself, Neil Patrick Harris and Brooks Ashmanskas are particularly great when they’re on screen together. They’ll give you laughs, heartache and yes, a nice serving of camp. 

Uncoupled debuts on July 29 (opens in new tab) as part of Netflix’s 2022 TV schedule and, of course if you’re looking for additional options, check out CinemaBlend’s 2022 TV schedule.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.