In a world full of brand deals, Instagram models, green juice and hipster millennials, it’s rare to come across originality in media. Yet, in a strange turn of events, Freeform’s newest comedy, “Alone Together,” is not only able to accomplish that kind of authenticity but also simultaneously subvert and embrace mainstream L.A. culture. That’s not to say, though, that the pilot was some immense success, that the show fits in on Freeform or that “Alone Together” is a series for everyone — but hey, at least it has some potential.
The series, written by and starring Esther Povitsky (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and Benji Aflalo (“City Girl”), follows two platonic aspiring comedians in their attempts at adulting, navigating the conceit of the city and constantly dodging the “are you two dating?” question. The duo — characteristically the same person, just different genders — makes it through the first episode by staying loyal and having each other’s backs while still calling each other out on their bullshit.
A round of applause is most definitely in order for Povitsky, Aflalo and Eben Russell (“New Girl”) as co-writers. The sharp one-liners and moments of pure, eccentric hilarity are somehow able to trump the show’s flaws enough to persuade me to follow up next week. In fact, the writing in a show meant to mock the status-obsessed nature of young Hollywood is probably so spot-on that it seems like the script was based on the authentic lives of eager stand-up comedians themselves.
That is, I’m not entirely sure that Povitsky and Aflalo needed to star in the show as well as dream up the humor behind it. The delivery of the jokes was often too awkward, making me wonder how much more connected to the characters I would feel if the acting was more polished and nuanced. Esther’s Cali-girl tone and millennial whining were exaggerated to the point of annoyance, and Benji was never truly given a moment to shine as anything other than Esther’s sidekick and self-deprecating best friend.
Moreover, “Alone Together” just feels majorly out of place on Freeform — a network that usually contains more well-rounded characters and investigative storylines. The layout of this half-hour comedy seemed choppy and jumbled, as so many different, wacky scenarios took place in such a short amount of time. I was left feeling a little confused and unsure about the show’s plot direction. How is it that Esther and Benji jump from being on the getaway from Esther’s chaotic one-night stand to ordering wellness shots and spirulina crisps from a quintessential L.A. juice bar to Esther wanting to become an escort in order to boost her self-esteem? I’m still not following that train of events.
The show itself is unclear about its motive as a comedy. Is the premise centered on two comedians trying to make it big in a city of stars, or is it focused on Esther and Benji’s possible and highly anticipated future relationship? Hopefully, we’ll find out as the season progresses, though I’m not entirely sure which run-of-the-mill route I’d prefer.
In the end, by no means is “Alone Together” a show that all audiences would welcome into their weekly schedules. As a matter of fact, I think you have to be a social media fiend and sometimes a self-doubting millennial yourself to truly understand and appreciate the comedy. The playful banter and loving yet brash criticism that overwhelms most of Esther and Benji’s encounters is oddly familiar and twistedly endearing for a millennial like me. And while the basis of the show was cluttered, “Alone Together” does enough in wittiness and relatability in order for me to reconsider watching it when in need of some mindless TV.