February 22, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Togetherness”


TOGETHERNESS:  Sunday 10:30PM on HBO

HBO pairs Jay and Mark Duplass’s TOGETHERNESS with Girls on Sunday nights, and in a way they make sense as companion pieces, since Togetherness concerns a screwed-up foursome at a later stage of their lives than Lena Dunham’s characters.  Togetherness, though, views its people with a more mature and nuanced eye.

The Season 2 premiere, written and directed by the Duplass brothers, took the show from its regular LA location to New Orleans, where Brett (Mark Duplass), his wife Michelle (Melanie Lynskey), Michelle’s sister Tina (Amanda Peet), and Tina’s boyfriend, producer Larry (Peter Gallagher), visited their friend Alex (Steve Zissis, who created the series with the brothers Duplass) for his birthday.  The major development since the end of Season 1 was that Alex, whose woebegone status as an actor and potential romantic partner was a main feature of the initial season, was suddenly a success, starring in some kind of vampire project produced by Larry, and dating the beauteous Christy (Ginger Gonzaga).  Alex was happier than we’d ever seen him, and success hadn’t made him self-destructive, which made Tina crazy, as she spent the episode not ready to leave rich Larry for him, but desperately wanting Alex to feel bad that he didn’t have her, a quest that somehow led her to lug a 150-year old ship’s compass around New Orleans, the expensive birthday gift she’d bought as passive-aggressive evidence of her feelings.

Things were no less unsettled between the married couple, as the premiere confirmed the season 1 finale’s implication that Michelle had slept with a colleague while on a business trip, even as Brett was driving there to rescue their marriage.  So far, at least, Michelle hasn’t confessed, making Brett clueless and Michelle miserable.

The Duplasses, who have turned out to be marvelously suited to the half-hour dramedy format, which gives them more focus than their 90-minute feature films have tended to display, draw all this with an eye to comedy that flows naturally from the characters, and the actors play it beautifully, with special credit due to Peet, a marvel of regret-fueled hostility.  Togetherness is one of the quieter shows on the HBO line-up, and it deserves more attention.  Its characters don’t thrash around and make spectacles of themselves, instead behaving like believable and complicated human beings.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."