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JONATHAN STORM

 
 
 
 
 
Millennial Age Crises in Freeform's 'Alone Together'
January 10, 2018  | By Ed Bark
 

The fine line between being amusingly under-achieving and annoyingly pathetic is crisscrossed repeatedly in Freeform’s Alone Together (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET).

Still, these tales of two needy, misfit L.A. millennials aren’t coming from ancient baby-boomers or even condescending Gen Xers. Esther Povitsky (top), also known as “Little Esther,” and Benji Aflalo (top), are both still within the 18-to-34-year-old millennial age range. As the co-creators and stars of Alone Together, they have more than a little self-awareness about being adrift, unfulfilled and basically parasitic.

“Sometimes I think I’m a loser because I only own one towel,” says Esther in the premiere episode, one of five made available for review. But wait, it gets even more comedically sad when Esther wonders in Episode 2, “Is the vagina self-cleaning?”

Benji sponges off and lives with his prosperous older brother Dean (Chris D’Elia right, from NBC’s Undateable and Whitney), a self-absorbed real estate broker and serial dater of beautiful women. Esther is along for this ride as Benji’s platonic best friend. They commiserate, kvetch and argue with one another about matters of mostly no import at all.

“The two of you were meant to be together -- like O.J. and jail,” says mutual friend Jeff (Edgar Blackmon), who drops in and out of episodes. All three of them are apprentice standup comics, but only Jeff is seen actually applying this trade in these five episodes.

Esther’s obsessions with the inconsequential can be laugh-out-loud funny while also losing some traction as this show goes on. And it will go on. Freeform already has renewed Alone Together for a second season. It all began as a short, self-produced film by Povitsky before bigger fish, namely Andy Samberg’s The Lonely Island production company, took notice and sold Freeform on the idea of a weekly series.

Episode 2, subtitled “Fertility,” is one of the better half-hours. Esther is interested in freezing her eggs and finding a worthy match for them. She’s stunned when this happens quickly. “I can’t even get selected for jury duty, and you know how good I am at judging and punishing people,” Esther tells Kevin.

Her meeting with the prospective mother (guest star Denise Richards) at first goes swimmingly. But of course, this can’t last because Esther and Benji can never succeed for long.

A “Road Trip” episode, with Jeff also a prominent player, pretty much runs out of gas after initially showing promise. Episodes 4 and 5 -- “Pop Up” and “Dean’s Girls” -- are better at holding together. They also help Benji to realize his full potential as a malfunctioning, neurotic adult, whether he’s persuaded into buying a fish tank by a pot-smoking entrepreneur with “restless neck syndrome” or selling his older brother on his built-in ineptitude. “Who knows more about being lonely and desperate than me?” Benji reasons.

Alone Together otherwise can be pretty good company for the most part. Povitsky, in particular, is uniquely capable of selling her gibberish with just the right facial expressions and voice inflections. There’d be no hope for the future were every millennial this way. But as voices of a hopefully very small subset of their generation, Povitsky and Aflalo are funny enough in spots to make a go of it as two oddly self-aware non-starters.

 
 
 
 
 
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