While the season premiere of Lena Dunham's Girls will probably hog more column inches (see right) in the entertainment press this week (especially with the show's creator and star recently stating that she won't be doing any more promotion for the fifth season due to an ongoing health condition), one of 2015's most underrated television shows will once again sneak onto our screens with little fanfare.
Written, directed, and executively produced by brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, HBO comedy drama Togetherness came and went under the radar last year. It was watched by about 12 people, and it's a tribute to the channel that it has commissioned a second season.
Far from a conventional sitcom and less cynical than most TV comedies, Togetherness revolves around the struggles of angsty 30-somethings, as frustrated couple Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (the fantastic Melanie Lynskey, Two and a Half Men) try to manage a marriage crisis. Completed by couch dwellers Alex, an out-of-work actor and Brett's best pal, and Tina (Amanda Peet; The Good Wife), Michelle's trainwreck of a sister, the quartet of main characters are just regular people with everyday problems, which is where the show gets its charm.
Togetherness is poignant, funny, often melancholic and sometimes a little cringeworthy, and although it can border on the whiney, the outstanding performances and cast chemistry pull the viewer in. The awkwardness of friendship and quiet discontent of adult life are wildly uncomfortable at times, but, thanks to a great script, the storyline is always believable.
The first season concluded with a fitting cliffhanger: will Michelle cheat on her husband and sleep with new man David, or will Brett get there in time to declare his love?
Well, as we quickly find out in this week's premiere (HBO, tomorrow at 11.30am, with a repeat at 11.30pm) that's a big ol' yes and no, so it looks like "bittersweet" will continue to define Togetherness, which is something we should be thankful for.
Amid all the recent cheeky monkey celebrations, you may have noticed the start of yet another food show, Fearless Chef, which saw Kenyan-born host and cook Kiran Jethwa (above) travel to Bolivia, to take part in the potentially deadly harvest of one of the world's most controversial plants: the coca leaf. Continuing his journey this Wednesday (Nat Geo People, 9.20pm), Jethwa heads to northeast China, to brave sub-zero conditions in search of two of the nation's top delicacies, lotus root and giant carp, both of which are found below thick ice. It's enough to make Bear Grylls tremble and maybe next week Jethwa will swing by riot-torn Mong Kok for a flaming fish ball supper, to prove beyond all doubt that he has no fear.
Also sticking her neck out for the love of grub is traveller and foodie Liesel Hlista, who is embarking on a globetrotting mission to "ask the questions that no one in the culinary world is asking". Now, our effervescent host doesn't say whether these questions are too controversial to ask or if it's just that no one gives two hoots about the answers, but Maximum Foodie (Nat Geo People, Thursday, 9.20pm) begins its journey this week in the Philippines, asking, "Why is Filipino food so unpopular?"
With Hlista scoffing street food with the locals and rubbing shoulders with elite Manila chefs, it's hardly groundbreaking investigative journalism but if you have the stomach for another food and travel show, Maximum Foodie may prove to be more tasty than chicken adobo.