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Brett & Michelle Are the New Jim & Pam, and You Must Pick a Side

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 17, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 17, 2015 |

In the final season of The Office, Joanna and I used to have heated arguments over who was in the right and who was in the wrong between Jim and Pam. Pam had encouraged Jim to help start a company in Philadelphia, and when things didn’t go her way — and when Jim couldn’t be around to parent as much as she wanted — Pam got upset with him. In fact, she nearly cheated on him with the documentary camera man. Jim, meanwhile, was being kind of a dick to Pam, and he did put his job ahead of his family, but then again, he was doing it for them. He couldn’t sit around for the rest of his life and work at Dunder Mifflin, but his wife resented him for wanting more for his life, for his career, and for his family. #TeamJim

In a far more realistic and less shoehorned, character-assassinating kind of way, Togetherness is also drawing lines: The marriage between the show’s main characters, Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey), is falling apart. It’s not over any one event. It’s not because either of them are bad people, and it’s not because they don’t love one another. Divorce, in a case like that, would probably be more cut and dry.

In Togetherness, it’s dicier. Brett and Michelle are dealing with something far more insidious: They’re dealing with dissatisfaction. Michelle is unhappy because her sex life with Brett blows and because Brett isn’t giving her what she wants out of their marriage. On the other hand, Michelle isn’t really communicating to Brett what it is she even wants. Michelle has an idealistic view of marriage, and she just expects her husband to deliver on her expectations.

Brett, on the other hand, resents his wife because he’s doing everything he can (or at least, everything he thinks he can) to make her and their family happy, and it’s still not good enough for her. I think that Brett’s position is, “What else do you fucking want from me?” And I think Michelle’s position, sometimes, is: “I want you to stop being you.” That’s a hard thing to fix, and when Michelle meets another guy who seems to understand her better, who seems to know what she wants without her having to ask him, who seems to want to please her out of affection and not out of marital duty, the schism between Brett and Michelle opens wider.

But who is right?

Ultimately, I’m #TeamMichelle. I don’t think Brett really understands. I think Brett is creating a version of their marriage that he thinks she should be happy with instead of providing her with the marriage that she wants. Figuratively speaking, it’s like he went out and surprised her with a brand new Honda Pilot and then he got mad at her because it’s not what she wanted. She wanted a goddamn 4Runner, because while the Pilot is nice and practical and useful, it’s sucking the goddamn life out of her. And instead of going out and exchanging it for car that she wants, Brett keeps insisting, “This is the perfect car for our family. I worked my ass off to get it for you. This is the car you should be happy with, and fuck you for not appreciating what I have given you.”

Togetherness is really heavy, y’all.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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