We Need to Talk About “Togetherness”

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A few days ago, I was contemplating writing an article talking about how brilliant Jay and Mark Duplass’ HBO series Togetherness is, and how everybody should be watching it. I had finally gotten around to watching the first couple of episodes in the new season and was blown away by the quality and relatability of it all (yes, I know “relatability” is not a real word, but it works for this sentence). Unfortunately, I probably should’ve written that article even before then, because it was announced by HBO (on my freaking birthday, none the less) that they would not be renewing the show for a third season. It genuinely broke my heart, and as I was receiving a birthday call from a relative I read the headline “Togetherness Canceled by HBO” and that phone call became less and less warm after that.

It wasn’t the most shocking news if you think about it. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only people I know that watched the show, and I foolishly didn’t recommend the show to anyone of my friends. But then again, a show like this doesn’t really sound that appealing to a whole lot of people, especially folks my age. For those who don’t know, Togetherness deals with a group of adults who are struggling with nearing their 40s, raising kids, and so on. Mark Duplass plays Brett and Melanie Lynskey plays his wife Michelle. Steve Zissis (who co-created the show with the Duplass Brothers) plays Alex, Brett’s best friend from high school who begins the show as a struggling actor but eventually finds some success in this new season, and Amanda Peet plays Tina, Michelle’s trainwreck of a sister who moves in with Brett and Michelle to get her life straightened up.

Doesn’t sound as exciting as Game of Thrones or Vinyl, right? (yes, I’m going to eventually do a write-up on how brilliant Vinyl is right before the season ends). And given in the hands of other showrunners/filmmakers, Togetherness would end up being a very boring and dull television show on whiny white adults who don’t like the fact that they’re getting old. But the fact that the Duplass Brothers are behind this one (the duo write and direct every episode), The show ends up being this very compelling, funny, and brutally honest half-hour show.

That’s another thing with the show, is how real and tough the show can be at times. While the show can be very funny at times, the show really isn’t a “comedy” like say something like Silicon Valley or Veep. Dramedy is probably the best way to phrase what this show is like, with the show often leaning heavily on the drama part. I don’t want to give anything away to anyone reading this who hasn’t watched the show, but the show deals a lot with the difficulty of marriage, and all of the baggage and pain that goes along with something like that. Again, doesn’t sound very exciting or fun to watch, but it’s just so brilliantly executed in both the writing by the Duplass Brothers, and the performances by every actor, especially Melanie Lynskey, who has really emerged as the best performer on this show in this current season. While the show may be ending, I would love it if HBO would gather up a campaign to get her some awards attention come the fall.

There’s a ton of little things throughout the show that again, would’ve fallen flat on its face if somebody handled the show. Peter Gallagher plays Larry, a producer who happens to be Tina’s boyfriend on show, which is upsetting to Alex in the first season since he has feelings for Tina that Tina never realized. You would think that the Duplass Brothers would portray Larry as your typical Hollywood douchebag hot-shot producer, but they don’t really do that. Larry is not a perfect character, but he’s not a bad guy either. He’s compassionate, funny, relatable, and seems like a genuinely nice person. I enjoy watching Gallagher and Peet’s chemistry together on-screen, as it feels genuine and real. I also like how they handle John Ortiz’s character in the show, but I don’t want to reveal too much about him since nobody watches the damn show.

The show is set in Los Angeles, which is not an innovative idea,, but it’s one that really helps the show in creating the style and tone for it all. Los Angeles is the city of angels, a place where dreams come to either live or die. This is a theme that’s apparent throughout the entire show, with Alex continuing to get an acting career and Brett feeling like he’s missed out on something his entire life, and is trying to figure out what that thing is. While both aren’t in show business, both Tina and Michelle have a drive to do something with their lives as well. Tina’s goals are to find somebody that can support her, and Larry seems to fit that bill for her. Michelle discovers a group of parents who are proposing a charter school in their area of LA, and Michelle quickly becomes very involved in that process.

I could go on and on about how great and wonderful Togetherness, but we unfortunately don’t have much time left with the show. The Season Two finale, which is also the series finale, is coming up in the next few weeks before Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Veep come back. While I am anxiously looking forward to the return of all three of those shows, it’s bittersweet since I don’t get to look forward to seeing Togetherness on at the beginning of the year anymore, which is sad. If you have any interest in watching the show, login to your HBO Go account and you can watch it all from the very beginning to what episode we’re currently at now. A new episode is on tonight, and I gotta get some stuff out-of-the-way before that, but thanks for reading this article.

 

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