The title of Togetherness Season 1 Episode 3 is "Insanity" and its relevance extends much further than the name of Alex and Tina's workout DVD. (Although, if an exercise montage to The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" is wrong, I don't want to be right.)
On a show about the commonplace, insanity is a curious concept. On Togetherness, insanity is stepping a few inches over the line, doing the unexpected thing, pushing past one's comfort zone. While each character has their own moments of insanity, tonight belongs to Alex and Michelle.
However, if insanity is defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different result, tonight may actually be the most sane any of these characters has ever been.
For Alex, insanity comes not only in the form of the workout video but Tina, herself. Tina is the catalyst, propelling Alex into the scary, intimidating unknown. It is at her insistence that they go to Brett's premiere, and it is through her not-so-subtle prodding that he hits the red carpet and attempts to talk to one of his idols, a director by the name of Larry.
You're crushing it in those Spanx.Tina
Of course, Alex is far too nervous to approach Larry, and so each interaction becomes increasingly uncomfortable – from an observation on the plumpness of the strawberries on the dessert table to an inquiry into the type of toilet paper he uses at home. It is only once Larry approaches him that Alex is able to be himself and impress him with his film rhetoric – and Tina's presence doesn't hurt. Unfortunately, it helps in a way that is simultaneously a bit crushing as Alex realizes he may have feelings for Tina while Larry puts the moves on her.
Alex and Tina's scenes are always some of the stand-out moments of the series. Because they are so different, their interactions are the perfect vehicle for character development. Tina's high energy, spaced-out beauty queen is the perfect counterpoint to Alex's unlucky-in-life actor who is resigned to the idea of mediocrity.
I'm really impressed. It was pathetic, but you didn't quit.Tina
They are both simultaneously cynical and hopeful in turns. When Tina was bummed about her failed relationship in Togetherness Season 1 Episode 1, it was Alex who stepped in to cheer her up. And in Togetherness Season 1 Episode 2, when Alex was giving up on ever reaching leading man status, it was Tina who was confident that he could do it.
Brett: She's a crazy person.
Alex: She's a lunatic. But I think it's working.
And, while Alex doesn't believe that Tina reciprocates his feelings, it is clear to the viewer that he shouldn't count Tina out just yet. We see what Alex doesn't see – her facial expressions give away a glimmer of hope that maybe he shouldn't write her off so quickly. For Alex, it's insane to think that Tina could be into him, but crazier things have happened.
Just ask Michelle. She similarly let her hair down in "Insanity" – stepping out of her comfort zone and teetering a bit close to the line. A snafu with the babysitter leaves Michelle in a Ferris Bueller type scenario with a night all to herself – a night she chooses to spend alone rather than at Brett's premiere.
This alone could be considered insanity for a character who's craziest action up until this point has been reading mainstream erotica and attempting to seduce her own husband.
Her journey throughout the evening is one of increasing self-discovery. Her first stop is for a drink at a bar, where she is still the same Michelle who is barely ever seen raising her voice or expressing her needs. Later, she wanders the streets of LA, bums a cigarette from a group of kids and responds to them referring to her as a hot mom by tapping into a feisty edge we haven't seen before.
While part of this scenario has me in full 90s girl-power mode, another part of me is a bit sad because obviously this is an aspect of Michelle's personality that she lost over the years.
The night ultimately comes full circle and finds her at City Hall, where she listens in on a meeting about the formation of a new charter school. While mouthy Michelle blowing smoke at teenagers may be reminiscent of her past, her genuine interest in providing her children with a well-rounded education is her current MO.
Listen, if you get cancer, I'm really sorry.Michelle
It is at this meeting that she meets David Garcia, a divorced dad waxing poetic on charter schools and the many benefits of co-parenting. Not since Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin has there been a more convincing poster child for happy divorce. Michelle is clearly intrigued by him, and judging from her late-night Google image search, she may have more in mind than her children's education.
While she doesn't cross the line, the seed has been planted. On a show where 50% of the main cast is an unhappy married couple, bringing the possibility of adultery into the mix isn't reinventing the wheel. But, it will be interesting to see how this storyline evolves.
Will Michelle take it further? And what's next for Alex and Tina? Will Tina reciprocate Alex's feelings? What did you think of Togetherness Season 1 Episode 3? Let us know in the comments!