Television series about unhappily married couples are a dime a dozen, and if we've seen one failed attempt at persuading your spouse to have morning sex instead of getting that extra 30 minutes of shut eye before the baby wakes up, we've seen them all, am I right?
Wrong. Togetherness offers a fresh perspective on a popular scenario, and if you take a quick look at the credits, it should come as no surprise why. The series is written, directed and produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, indie filmmakers most known for films that capture the realism and subtle absurdity of everyday life.
With their new series they bring their well-tested formula for intimate character study to HBO, and if Togetherness Season 1 Episode 1 is any indication, the translation to the small screen is a successful one.
Togetherness exposes pre-midlife malaise – that delicate period in married life after the honeymoon phase, but before one begins considering a Corvette. That speed bump on the highway of adulthood where you slow down and think, wait, how did I get here? Shouldn't I have ended up somewhere else? Perhaps I should find a rest stop and reevaluate some things over a Big Gulp and some chips.
Certainly, as we first meet these four characters, it's clear that on the road of life, each has ended up a bit turned around.
Brett trying to unsuccessfully Don Juan his way into his wife's pajamas, and then trying not to wake her when he settles for going solo. (Next time, he should consider one of those mattresses that can hold a glass of wine without spilling.)
Alex sitting defeated on his couch on the curb in front of the house where he was just evicted, eating straight from a bag of powdered doughnuts.
You're a mess.Brett
Tina trying to convince herself that the tool she's been seeing is boyfriend material while he vacuums his couch to avoid making eye contact. (But he does tell her he'll text her, so they will probably work out fine.)
Alex: Why hasn't he texted you back yet?
Tina: He's on a scarab boat. It goes so fast, it doesn't have reception.
Michelle being caught by her husband creatively masturbating to 50 Shades of Grey.
Each has their own first-world problems, and for each their problems are the most important thing. (As Alex tells Brett, "I don't think you're seeing things from my point of view.")
It is only when the group comes together during "date night" that the episode's intention becomes clear. Alex and Tina turn their routine dinner date into a strawberry wine-fuelled caper in a well-executed scene that reminds us why we can't lose our ability to laugh and have silly fun, regardless of age or circumstance.
You need to know when to fold them. You need to know when to kick them in the nuts.Alex
The genuine smiles and the lighthearted comradery of this scene compared with the more heavy expressions of discontent through the earlier part of the episode makes it even more appreciated, for both the characters and the viewers.
However, ultimately, the final scenes take us back to "real life," as reality sets in for Alex and Tina, set up on side-by-side couches in the living room of the Pierson family home, where Brett and Michelle are decidedly still not having sex in the next room.
Overall, the series premiere of Togetherness impressed in its subtle humor and treatment of life that is neither cynical nor hopeful but, like real life, somewhere in between.
Tina: What is your plan?
Alex: After I eat these Oreos? Or before?
What did you think of the show? Fans of the Duplass brothers' films, speak out! Did Togetherness meet your expectations? Will you be sticking around for more from these well-written characters?