Togetherness: Handcuffs Review

Togetherness only gets stronger in its second episode as it indulges in its kinkier side.

“What the fuck is ‘Get the pillow.’”

After getting past all of the baggage and setup of the Togetherness pilot, it’s nice to just see this episode let loose, giving everyone a lot to do here. We see each of the basic areas of this show get explored, whether it’s Michelle with sex, or Brett with his job. All of this comes down to control in the end, with everyone wanting it in the respective areas of their lives.

None of these plotlines feel awkward or disconnected, fortunately. The Duplass brothers do a commendable job juggling all of this where it even feels like these separate stories feed into one another. It’s a very full household and I’m excited to see what sort of busy episodes this season is going to hold for them, now that the pacing and structure is a little clearer. 

Early on we get a glimpse of Michelle’s incredibly honest morning routine as she comfortably gets ready for the day while serenading her baby. It’s a beautiful, simple moment that this show is full of, and while the comedy is hitting hard, these moments are just as satisfying.

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For instance, Michelle’s storyline for the episode is that she wants a more exciting sex life with Brett, and so she seeks out Tina for help with this. This is an age-old avenue for comedies, and listening to two women discuss their sex lives is hardly new or innovative, but the way Togetherness eases into the plot here is perfect. The show gives us extended, natural scenes of Michelle and Tina just being with each other and bonding, and there’s something magical about watching these two go through this. It’s why this all feels different and justifies the show. Tina’s mouth agape reaction to Michelle getting into the whole “get the pillow” routine feels honest as hell. The Duplass’ letting this scene, and most of their scenes breathe speaks volumes for this family and the rhythms of their relationships.

The show once again pairs Tina and Alex up together, which is more than fine considering what they give us in the first episode. Alex is seeking control in terms of getting his acting career back into any sort of presentable shape. And Tina seems more than interested in having control by being the one that’s controlling him through all of this. It’s nice to see her as this strong, motivating force that is finally getting him to do something with his life, that doesn’t feel too manic pixie dream girl in execution. 

I’m a little torn because the “three Mississippi” motivation scene is wonderful and already a good indication of what this how is capable of, but it feels like Amanda Peet is always being relegated to the woman who ends up showing her breasts. It’s fine, because she’s killing it on the show so far and maybe giving my favorite performance on it at this point, but as soon as the scene began, I kind of rolled my eyes at her going down this all too familiar territory. 

Brett’s situation at work is all sorts of infuriating as he’s shut down by his superior as they tell him his hard-earned real coyote recording sounds fake (in spite of them “appreciating the hell out of your sonic acumen”). Upon pushing and defending the audio, he’s essentially walked off the set. Duplass plays beleaguered and fed up so well, so he especially sells all of this and accentuates how maddening a job environment like that can be where control is crucial. While this is all great stuff, we don’t really get a payoff to it other than Brett leaving the studio. I’m sure we’ll get more of this in the following weeks, but it’s kind of just left hanging here. 

And if there are any flaws with this show, it’s that. A lot of this program is simply these people talking and getting deep into their lives as we watch these slices of intimacy between them. This sometimes means you’re losing story at the cost of character, but so far I’m comfortable with the balance. We get resolution to Michelle’s story, but Alex’s too is largely prologue while it doesn’t really end on a definitive note. 

In spite of hanging threads, it’s a satisfying episode and a step in the right direction for the show. If anything, perhaps it’s just my own need for control that has me hungry for the answers that I’m not getting. 

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4 out of 5