Togetherness Creators Jay and Mark Duplass on How They Work Together Without Killing Each Other

Jaimie Trueblood/HBO

Marriage is hard. So is dating. Work kinda sucks. Those are just a few of the themes that are explored in Togetherness, the new HBO comedy about a long-term couple (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey) and two singletons (Amanda Peet and Steve Zissis) who find themselves all living together–and lashing out at one another–on the hipsterish east side of Los Angeles. The series, which premiered Sunday, Jan. 11, and was renewed for a second season last week, is the latest project from Duplass and his brother Jay–writer-producer-directors (Cyrus, Safety Not Guaranteed) with a knack for transforming the personal into the universal, no laugh track required. Here’s a taste of the sibs’ sensibility.

Jaimie Trueblood/HBO

Where did the idea for Togetherness come from?

Jay: It started out as another potential movie, based on our lives and the lives of our friends. There seemed to be a confluence of what we were all experiencing in our late thirties and early forties. The more it brewed, the more we realized that it could go on and on forever!
Mark: Jay and I are at our best when we’re looking at something very close to us–tapping into our little private conversations, the stuff we find funny and sad and compelling.

Speaking of: This isn’t a typical funny-ha-ha sitcom.

Jay: We try not to worry about whether it’s a comedy, dramedy, whatever. We just try to replicate life as we experience it. We never let humor get in the way of truthfulness.

What’s the trick to working together without killing each other?

Mark: People in a POW camp don’t argue because they have this enormous goal of “How are we going to survive?” We are intrinsically locked in arms, dwarfed by the greater villain of how hard it is to make something good.
Jay: We spent a lot of time in our twenties struggling. Now that we’ve found our thing, we’re so thankful.
Mark: We are finally at the Shoney’s buffet, and we’re going to eat the s–t out of it!

Togetherness, Sundays, 9:30/8:30c, HBO