Togetherness Season 1 Review “Family Day”

As a huge fan of the mumblecore film movement – and the Duplass brothers in particular – I was excited to learn about Togetherness, HBO’s new original series. I’m always curious to see what the brothers come up with next, and Mark Duplass remains one of my favorite actors between his other films and his work on The League. And while “Family Day” went through the regular pilot motions of introductions and set-ups, it still provided a lot of fun moments and likable characters wrapped up in all of the standard trappings of the mumblecore genre.

At its core, Togetherness is about exploring the trappings of middle age. It’s a popular subject these days, but one that seems like a natural fit for the Duplass brothers’ skills. Ultimately, what really sets this show apart is the mumblecore aesthetic. It’s a genre defined by its more naturalistic feel, both in the dialogue and the performances. The conversations on this show don’t always stay completely on topic, instead allowing the characters to talk like real people. And that’s not to try and make it sound overly serious; the show obviously includes the kind of silly people will just do with friends, like Alex’s singsong attempt to get Tina to eat an Oreo.

Serious or comedic, the production also feeds in to the realism, with songs used sparingly and incidental music nonexistent. It works to keep the audience from holding the show at a distance, as everything in the show does. It allows an awkward argument between sisters or the powdered donut fight to feel just a bit more believable and hit closer to home. Conversely, when the show does allow itself some musical indulgence, it acts well as a soundtrack to how the characters are feeling.

Again, it’s hard to give a definitive opinion on Togetherness at this point. As far as the story goes, it’s clear what the big focuses will be moving forward – the strain in Brett and Michelle’s marriage and the growing friendship between Alex and Tina – but there’s still a lot that’s up in the air. What it comes down to, then, is how the style and structure of this episode struck you, as it’s very much what the creators are known for and will no doubt bring to future episodes. For me, at least, this was a strong first outing that makes me excited to see what happens next.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!