'Togetherness' Will Make You Wonder If You're a Grown-Up

by Melissa Kirsch
Originally Published: 

You know that disconnect you feel when the girl at Starbucks calls you “ma’am” or you overhear kids referring to you as “a grown-up”? “How can I be a ‘ma’am,'” you wonder, “when I still feel 21? How can I be a ‘grown-up’ when I am, at heart, the same person I was as a child?”

Togetherness, the new comedy from Jay and Mark Duplass that debuted on HBO on Sunday, addresses head-on that feeling of living in two worlds: the world of the aimless and untethered, post-college but pre-responsibility; and the married with kids, job and mortgage world—the land of the grown-ups.

Married couple Brett and Michelle (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) seem perfect to Michelle’s still-searching, hot-messy sister Tina (Amanda Peet) and Brett’s unemployed, schlubby and recently evicted best friend Alex (Steve Zissis). But Brett and Michelle’s marriage—replete with two kids, lovely house and an apparent “togetherness”—has its own problems, most notably a lack of sex.

If Brett and Michelle are playing at being real grown-ups, Tina and Alex are suspended in a teenage dream. Tina mistakes sex for love, texts photos of her thong to a guy who won’t call her back, and gets dumped via text. Alex, homeless and bitter, is considering moving back in with his parents now that his acting career has stalled.

While all four hover around 40, Brett and Michelle have crossed the Rubicon between childhood and adulthood, but Tina and Alex remain arrested in immaturity, unable to get their lives in gear. After Tina gets dumped, Alex takes her to buy that just-turned-21 swill, Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine, which they peer-pressure Brett and Michelle into drinking. The married couple sips their Boone’s Farm in the minivan, watching while Alex and Tina TP Tina’s ex’s house to the power chords of Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild.” “They look like they’re having so much fun,” Michelle says wistfully, and Brett agrees.

The two pairs are the perfect depiction of the psyche on the verge of adulthood, the superego at war with the id, the woman at Starbucks who looks like she has her life together but inside still feels like a child. Togetherness promises a season of warring between these two camps, these two forces that battle in the heart of every person who’s ever found herself perched on the edge of midlife wondering how she got here.

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