Togetherness: Season 1 created by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, and Steve Zissis (Duplass Brothers Productions, Home Box Office)
Starring Mark Duplass, Melanie Lynskey, Amanda Peet, and Steve Zissis.
Searching for Identity
Divorce, the unmentionable. Much like Fight Club, the one rule about divorce is that you never mention divorce. With so many families rendered asunder, it seems wise to never bring such a topic to the table in good times or in bad.
Intuitively, such thoughts are self-fulfilling. One doesn’t mention divorce if he or she is happily married. Thus, the mere mention of it necessitates its action.
Even though divorce represents a common occurrence in the American household, our idiot boxes don’t root for it. The narrative trends on shows always lean toward coupling versus a conscious uncoupling. Marriage still represents a “happily ever after.”
Unique Looking Dramedy
Because of these trends, HBO’s Togetherness offers a unique take to the dramedy. In its first season, the viewer becomes torn between rooting for the main characters Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey) to split and to stick together.
Brett, a sound composer and editor in Hollywood has sailed the high seas of marriage for nearly a decade with his wife, Michelle, staying at home to raise the kids.
Encountering monumental levels of stress, Brett’s home carries no resemblance to the sanctuary of which we all dream.
Meanwhile, Michelle feels trapped. Her love life is boring and her days provide little to no purpose.
As the season unfolds, the tensions between these characters build to a breaking point. Both people have changed drastically. They are no longer the people to which they’ve fallen in love. So what shall they do?
Rounding out the main cast, Michelle’s sister, Tina (Amanda Peet) crashes on the couch, having moved to California from Texas. She’s dead inside. Her wish is to build her life afresh, but would it just be easier to find a rich man to take care of her?
Lastly, Brett’s unemployed best friend, Alex (Steve Zissis), meanders around the periphery. A failed actor, Alex faces a moment of truth. Either he doubles down on acting or its time to go home. Can the encouragement from Tina inspire him to lose some weight and land the big role?
The strength of the character relationship pushes Togetherness forward. This question of identity and how it relates to family and relationship represents the foundation of the show. We all change; we all seek improvement; we never know what the next day, week, month, and year will hold.
And yet, our relationships generally remain. While acquaintances orbit in the periphery before falling off, the core relationships require much more work and much more pain if divorce occurs.
The thing that drives us together can become the thing that drives us apart before we even know it. The small nervous tick at one point endearing becomes the source of pure frustration. And a life of treading water can lead to boredom. Togetherness asks tough questions and reinvents comedic expectations. It’s worth watching.
Verdict: 4 out of 5