HBO’s Togetherness ends its first season tonight, wrapping up eight episodes of sexual, marital, and career tension. But don’t expect neat resolution: The dramedy, created by mumblecore kings Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, and Steve Zissis, hinges on the idea that intelligence, attractiveness, and ambition might not be enough to elevate the torture of daily existence. Amanda Peet plays Tina, who, after getting dumped, moves in with her unhappily married sister Michelle Pierson (Melanie Lynskey) and brother-in-law Brett Pierson (Mark Duplass) and their kids. Rounding out this 40-ish quartet of discontent is Alex Pappas (Steve Zissis), a not-quite-working actor who’s been evicted from his apartment. Tina becomes Alex’s career coach, trainer, and friend with no benefits. But of course it’s complicated. In the last few episodes, she’s started seeing a rich TV producer, Larry (Peter Gallagher), cock-blocked Alex, and slapped him when he finally kissed her. In tonight’s episode, she faces a decision: Does she move in with Larry? Peet spoke with Vulture about whether she’d choose Larry or Alex, improvising that slap, and trying to get on Game of Thrones.
What’s interesting to me about Togetherness is how the characters, especially Tina, skate the precipice of being cliché but don’t succumb. What about the role made you choose to return to TV, and how do you manage to portray that balance?
I’m really into doing TV, so that is not a conflict for me at all. I think probably there’s better writing for women in TV than in movies. And I really love the Duplass brothers. So for me it was a no-brainer. And the fact that the character was really fun was just an added bonus.
Do you have a favorite scene so far?
I really love dealing with the bouncy castle. It’s usually fun for me … the unruly bouncy castle.
That scene was so sad — the deflated bounce house and your dirty all-white outfit. I went to an adult birthday party with a bouncy castle. It’s actually really hard. It must be physically demanding to wrestle with that.
I’m old, and I have back problems and hip problems, so it’s really dangerous for me!
If you can talk about the finale, is there a scene or a line in there you particularly like? How would you describe the way it ended?
I actually haven’t seen it yet, but I think it ends in a fun place for Alex and Tina. Well, an interesting place, anyway … I shouldn’t say fun. Yeah, I guess I probably shouldn’t say too much.
If it were up to you, whom would you choose to end up with?
Well …Steve [Alex], of course.
This is your first foray into cable TV — before it was always network, right? Can you talk about the differences?
Yes. Well, the Duplass brothers are very light on their feet. They don’t have a big production; it’s not a big circus. I think HBO really trusts them and it’s really their vision. So you get the feeling that you’re not in an assembly line — it’s what they think is funny, it’s what they think is smart.
Is there a moment where you had a note that changed a scene or took things in a different direction?
Well, they throw things out at you, too, so it’s not just you improvising, it’s them … they’ll say, ‘Can you try saying this?’ or ‘Can you try doing this?’ It’s very vibrant, collaborative process.
Is there one particular example of where that really changed the scene?
I wasn’t going to slap him. That wasn’t in the script … when [Alex] kisses me. We started trying it like that.
Whose idea was that?
I think I just slapped him … luckily, Steve is very game! I mean, if somebody tells me that I’m allowed to improvise, I will take them at their word. I’m not going to pussyfoot, you know?
One of my colleagues was telling me every time she bumps into you, you have a conversation about how you want to be on Game of Thrones. Is that still going on? Can we expect to see you anytime soon?
I really wish that I could be on Game of Thrones … but so far … I can’t seem to convince them [creators David Benioff, Peet’s husband, and D.B. Weiss] to put me on the show. I told them I’ll take my clothes off … to no avail.
You told both of them?
I told Dan, D.B. Weiss, and David that I would take my clothes off. They looked very disturbed.
I didn’t realize you just had a baby [Henry] in December. I came across your comments about vaccination. Having a baby must reinforce your feelings about the issue.
I’m scared, I get scared for Henry because he’s so young. So I get scared to take him to a birthday party or when I take him to the school drop-off. I keep him really close to me. We have really strict rules about hand-washing and everything. When my kids come home from school, it’s like they’re scrubbing into surgery. You have to count to 30 and scrub.
Earlier you said you thought there were better roles in TV for women. Can you expand on that? Are there any particular roles you’d want to see?
Just more … Edie Falco, more Laurie Metcalf, more Janet McTeer … more Patricia Arquette. I think the Duplass brothers are a really good example of men who write really good roles for women. And so does Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin’s a master at it.
In Vulture’s recap of the penultimate episode, Libby Hill wrote: “Tina chooses Larry because she’s tired of fighting to be the best version of herself. She’s tired of trying, and Larry loves her just as she is. With Larry, there’s no need to struggle toward self-improvement. Were she to pursue a relationship with Alex, she’d need to keep trying because Alex believes in Tina and her potential for greatness. But Tina isn’t like her sister or like Brett. Tina is tired, and she’s ready to be loved just as she is.” Thoughts?
I think its pretty good. I don’t know if Larry loves Tina, that’s the only thing.
Does it matter, though?
Yeah, it matters.
I mean … does she love Larry?
Yeah, I don’t know if she loves him, either. I don’t think so. I think she loves the idea of him.
So, does it matter?
Yeah, it matters … because most relationships that start off that way get derailed very quickly.
Unless you’re two extremely practical people who don’t necessarily want … everything.
Larry’s not a bad guy, certainly in any black-and-white sense.
No, the Duplass brothers don’t do black-and-white.