Meanwhile, Brett isn’t dealing with their marital crisis in the standard television way — sleeping with younger girls or buying fancy red cars — but instead takes a quieter approach, and one that involves exploring his spirituality with an endearing guide played by Mary Steenburgen. His crisis is harder to pin down, and when his wife questions him about what his dream is — if he could do anything in the world right now — he chooses sitting alone in a Barnes and Noble, playing Dune. Michelle is, tellingly, absent from this dream. Both Piersons have unusual “affairs,” not necessarily of the physical kind: Michelle is encouraged to take charge; Brett is encouraged to scream in the woods; both are encouraged to be themselves.
Tina and Alex are also having trouble with being themselves. Unexpectedly, it was Alex who I found myself drawn to the most throughout the entire first season. He’s the easy-to-like, schlubby best friend character who can’t seem to kick-start his acting career because he’s stuck between being too fat for a leading-man role and not quite fat enough to play the Kevin James-esque sidekick. True to his type, Alex quickly develops a crush on Tina, who is clearly out of his league, and this crush is only heightened when she not-so-innocently offers to help get him in shape. The two become incredibly close, too close for Alex to deal with himself and too close for Tina to ignore his feelings, even as she enjoys a sugar daddy romance with a movie producer (Peter Gallagher).
Describing the surprising charm of Togetherness is difficult, mostly because the premise sounds so boring. But I binged through the entire season quickly, always eager to start a new episode, save for a break after the fourth episode, “Houston, We Have a Problem,” which punched me in the gut in such a lovely but depressing way that I had to pause to regroup. The characters’ journey isn’t a big one in the grand scheme of things — one of the most glorious sequences in the series involves a silly game of Kick the Can with a bunch of California hipsters — but it’s one that you’ll want to take with them.