'Togetherness': Love Is in the Air—With All the Wrong People

by Melissa Kirsch
Originally Published: 

Thank you, Duplass Brothers, for creating in Togetherness a role for Amanda Peet that finally exploits her myriad talents. As Tina, she’s zany and sexy, terrifyingly flighty and totally grounded all at once. She’s that friend we all have and we all envy, the one who may be a bit of a mess, but—by virtue of the fact that she doesn’t worry about what anyone thinks—is actually more together and is, most important, having a heck of a lot more fun than the “responsible grown-ups” in her midst.

This week Tina’s gone full-on life coach on Alex. She’s got him doing the Beachbody “Insanity” workout DVD—if the jumping jacks and knee raises don’t do Alex in, then Tina screaming “Do you want to be a leading man?!” certainly will.

Alex is Tina’s project now, and she’s determined to get both his body and mind in shape so he can realize his stunted dreams of being an actor. When the postman delivers two tickets to Brett’s TV show premiere that night, Tina merrily announces that she and Alex will accompany Brett and Michelle, so confident is she that she can sweet-talk her way onto the red carpet without an invitation.

Michelle and Brett are reluctant to attend—they’re deep in consultation about their 5-year-old, Sophie’s, kindergarten plans. They’re applying to private school, but Michelle wants her to go to public school so she’ll have a more multicultural experience.

When the sitter cancels, Michelle gamely volunteers to stay home with the kids—although this leaves Brett with his own babysitting job: taking Tina and Alex to their first fancy premiere. Tina is dressed in a one-shoulder, silver sequined number that’s equal parts glam hooker and suburban prom. Alex, with the aid of Spanx, has squeezed himself into a pair of Diesel jeans Tina picked out for him.

When they arrive at the premiere, Tina forces Alex onto the red carpet, where he bungles posing for the camera and lies to a reporter, saying he plays a rapist in the show. “She’s a crazy person,” Brett says of Tina to Alex. “She’s a lunatic, but I think it’s working,” replies Brett dreamily, clearly taken with Tina’s moxie. Yup, Tina’s crazy—like a fox. Brett and Alex agree to part ways so they can go be gross Hollywood schmoozers: Brett will attempt to apologize to the director with whom he had an argument over the coyote sound effects, and Alex will hunt down and attempt to introduce himself to his favorite producer, Larry Kosinski.

Tina and Alex continue their “Lucy and Ethel go to Hollywood” hijinks, attempting unsuccessfully to chat up Larry (played by the always-perfect Peter Gallagher) in the buffet line and the men’s bathroom, and ultimately sneaking into the VIP section and getting an audience with him. Larry turns out to be a pretty cool guy, and Tina is thrilled, smiling like a proud parent, when he and Alex hit it off.

Poor Brett’s efforts to apologize to his director go terribly. The director first pretends not to know who Brett is or why he’s apologizing, then screams at him “get the fuck out of here,” only to then burst out laughing and say he’s only kidding, erupting in coyote howls as Brett stands by bewildered and humiliated. We have all been there—made to feel foolish and small by someone more powerful than we are who’s kind of a dick. Brett’s night is redeemed, however, when he spies a red-breasted bird on a lamppost and captures the bird’s song with his iPhone. He’s a soundman. He doesn’t need the respect or the glory that the director does—this is his art.

Michelle gets a last-minute reprieve when the babysitter suddenly turns up, but instead of going to the premiere, Michelle changes into fishnets, a low-cut dress (is it the same one from last week’s S&M scene?) and a leather jacket and goes out to a bar. She tries to flirt with the bartender, telling him suggestively she is going to “see where the night takes me.” The bartender is deaf to her siren song, and instead of returning the innuendo, asks if she’s going to order the hummus toast. Michelle is rebuffed, and order it she does.

On her way home from the bar, Michelle bums a smoke from teen boys Adam and Miguel. When Adam yells at Miguel that his mom looks hot tonight, Michelle beckons him over and blows smoke in his face. “Listen, if you get cancer, I’m really sorry,” she says. “It’s going to be sad.” Not really a sick burn, but Michelle feels like she’s triumphed over the little shit and bids the boys goodnight, a confident kick in her stride.

She winds up at the Eagle Rock City Hall, where she wanders into a meeting led by David Garcia, a divorced dad of two who is trying to start a charter school in town. Like Brett recording the birdsong, Michelle has found her calling. In David, she finds a shared desire to create something great in the community where her daughter can really “experience life,” unlike at private school. David drives her home and it’s clear that she’s attracted to him—the faraway look she gets in her eye as he describes divorced parenting seems doubly dreamy: she’s imagining what it would be like to be with a man like him, but she’s also turned on by the idea of parenting without Brett in the picture. We leave her in bed with her laptop, Google Image-searching “Eagle Rock Charter School David Garcia.”

There’s romance in the air for Tina and Alex, too, who share a moment of disbelief at the end of the night that they actually talked to Larry. Alex is clearly all in with Tina and jumps at the adventure when Tina invites him to go with her to get her stuff from Houston. The excitement is short-lived, however, when he turns around and sees Tina snuggling up to Larry. The evening ends with Brett and a dejected Alex driving off in Brett’s car, waving good night to Larry and Tina. Brett gives Alex a pep talk, telling him that he is the eponymous “Tom Sawyer” of the Rush song on the radio, a person who lifts the spirits of all those around him and who never needs to be embarrassed. The episode ends with the two them air drum-soloing and lip syncing the song—bros before hos, they seem to be telling us, as the credits roll.

Best 1980s Music Moment

Tina and Alex working out to The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”

Best Suggestion for an Answer to the Private School Application Question Inquiring When Your 5-Year-Old Demonstrated Leadership

Brett: “Sophie once got all of the girls in her class to show their vaginas to each other.”

Best Peter Gallagher Joke

Alex: “He’s got more hair in his eyebrows than I’ve got on my head.”

Best Site Gag

Pudgy Alex in nude Spanx. Ha, ha. Welcome to being a woman, pal.

Previously: Episode 1: “Family Day”. Episode 2: “Handcuffs”.

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