"Dramedy" Togetherness follows a quartet of thirtysomethings in contemporary Los Angeles; Brett and Michelle Pierson (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) are trying to jumpstart their stalling marriage while Michelle's sister, Tina (Amanda Peet), and Brett's best friend, Alex (Steve Zissis), navigate their way through career travails and romantic stumbles.
Funny but bittersweet, the series was co-created by Duplass, his brother, Jay, and Zissis. The stars of the show, alongside Jay Duplass, sat down recently to talk about what makes Togetherness work.
Is the show autobiographical? Mark Duplass: "The first season was built because we love Steve Zissis and were figuring out how to get him in front of the world. That's the most intensely autobiographical element of the show."
Jay Duplass: "We are pulling from the soup of our lives. Almost everything that happened [in season one] is something that we've heard of or has been related to us."
Does that carry on in season two? Mark D: "We're in more uncharted territory there. These characters have transcended the semi-autobiographical nature of the show, and they've become Alex and Tina and Brett and Michelle."
How did it become all about Zissis? Mark D: "I was 16 years old. I sat in a high school auditorium with 800 people. Steve played the lead in Godspell; it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. He was like a golden god. We went through life and stayed in touch, and Togetherness became the perfect place to remedy the great injustice of the world not knowing what this golden god could do."
What might happen in season two? Amanda Peet: "I think [Tina and Alex] should end up together. But if they do, they will have to come at it obliquely and incrementally. She's a loose cannon and that's a big problem when you're trying to settle down with someone."
Did anyone have a problem with the nude scenes? Mark D: "In my experience, that was really fun. But Melanie was getting very uncomfortable. I'm her director and am also playing her husband. She was telling me, 'Don't look at me.'"
How prominent are the roles of the two women lead characters? Peet: "In a lot of shows, the man goes off and executes the plot. That's not the case here. Our roles are huge, complicated, colourful, weird, sympathetic, annoying, and just run the entire gamut."
Has anything been "too real" to write in to the show? Mark D: "Never. It's not our desire to be incendiary. Our innate goal is to explore these things as deeply as we can and we like to do that with a sense of humour. That's how we see the world."
The second series of Togetherness is airing on HBO on Mondays, at 11.30am with repeats at 11.30pm. It is also on demand.