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HBO Max’s ‘Singletown’ is a fantasy show for couples in quarantine

The new series divides five couples who’ve hit a crossroads, and encourages them to date around while living near each other. What a dream/nightmare!

HBO Max’s ‘Singletown’ is a fantasy show for couples in quarantine
[Photo: courtesy of HBO]

Earlier this year, untold thousands of couples, at every phase in a relationship, were suddenly thrust into uneasy cohabitations.

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Some of them were recent pairings who decided to move in together because it’s hard to stay away from your partner when you’re terrified during the onset of a pandemic.

Some were long-time sweethearts on the brink of a breakup who decided to stay together because, well, it’s also hard to relocate during a pandemic.

Then there are the rest of us, the neutral members of the shacked-up populace. Things haven’t been great for them either.

All of these disparate groups, even long-time happy cohabitants, have had a tough year of spending glacially paced hours in the same cramped environment, with the same person: working, not working, striving to find mutually satisfactory Netflix offerings, overhearing each other’s therapy sessions on Zoom, and dying just a little each day.

HBO Max’s new series Singletown, however, offers a fantasy vision of newly single life for couples in quarantine—and it should put your own relationship in sobering perspective.

Singletown is like the opposite of Andy Samberg’s Palm Springs, in which two strangers fall in love when they’re forced into a time loop together. The new show instead finds five British couples who are willing to give each other hall passes, and divides them up into two luxury apartments in the same gorgeous building on the Thames, where they spend the summer running through an alcohol-filled gauntlet of sexy singles.

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Sparks, inevitably, fly.

[Photo: courtesy of HBO Max/Keshet Productions]
The show originally premiered on the British ITV2 in September 2019, before moving to HBO Max in a noble (and transparent) effort to compete with Netflix’s new emphasis on reality dating shows. Joel Dommett and Emily Atack, actors who have both appeared on the British reality series I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, play mentors to the two apartments, acting as both shoulders to cry on and “human Tinder.”

Of course, the show is only as strong as its couples in crisis.

Each couple seems to be a different color on the fed-up rainbow. The major problem between Luke and Tash is that Tash wants Luke to propose and Luke does not want to do that. (Mayhap a comeuppance be in order?) George wants to flirt openly with as many women as possible and Sophie is willing to take a risk and see if that’s what she wants, too. Elliott and Charlie, the lone LGBTQ couple in the bunch, just seem to have hit a crossroads in general.

[Photo: courtesy of HBO Max/Keshet Productions]
“Are you guys single and ready to mingle?” Selin asks, the first of so many times the word “single” is rhymed with “mingle” on this show.

“I dunno,” is the honest response from Sophie.

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All of them seem like fun-loving hotties in their early 20s who know what makes good reality TV and are eager to contribute to it. Suddenly granted the new freedom to date around, and with a drama-intensifying proximity to their exes, they don’t disappoint.

Seeing the awkward small talk between recent singles, though, not to mention the occasional pining for their recent exes, should make just about anyone in a halfway decent relationship appreciate their quarantine cohabitant.

And if not, perhaps there’s an opening on the show next season.

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