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Freeform's 'Alone Together' -- A Glimpse at Platonic Friends Finding Their Way Through Life – in L.A.
January 10, 2018  | By David Hinckley

Freeform’s new comedy Alone Together is the latest show to reframe the lives of misfit teens and young adults who have traditionally been either exploited as passing comic relief or dismissed as losers.

Alone Together, which premieres Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, revolves around Esther (Esther Povitsky, top) and Benji (Benji Aflalo, top), platonic best friends bonded over their mutual inability to get even a toenail inside the social world of hip Los Angeles.

It’s not that they have accepted perennial outsider-ship as their destiny. They regularly see openings. They just never get through them, clumsily banging on the sides and eventually falling back to where they were.

With Esther and Benji, it’s more that they’ve made an odd kind of peace with their inability to become cool and popular. It will probably always be this way, they admit to each other, so they might as well take whatever good times they can find on their side of the fence.

They don’t even constantly support each other. When one gets a one-night stand, the other gets envious – not because there’s any sexual jealousy, but because it’s easier to accept your own defeats if it doesn’t feel like anyone else just got a win.

Esther and Benji are a little hard to pin down. They’re self-centered, and not always in a good way, but we like them. We’d be happy to have positive things happen for them.    

They’re also funny, partly because they’re unfiltered and sometimes because they don’t know they’re being funny. It is a sitcom, underscored by the way it even throws in a few gags for the old folks.

At one point Esther signs up to work for an escort service and is stunned to get a response from an older guy. He doesn’t seem overtly creepy, though he probably is. Middle-aged men who pay to date young girls can safely be said to have issues.

In any case, he’s pleasant and hands-off at first, so Esther starts telling him some things about herself. She doesn’t like her looks, she says. She doesn’t even have any cheekbones.  

The older guy quickly assures her she’s wrong. She has great cheekbones, he says. “Even Ray Charles could see that.”

“I don’t know who that is,” Esther replies. “But he sounds so nice.”

Just to reassure the Freeform demographic, Alone Together is peppered with more contemporary pop culture references as well.

The heart of the show, in any case, is Esther and Benji talking endlessly about their lot, and how they will probably die alone. They also fight enough so one friend suggests they should get married because they already bicker like an old married couple.

He’s right, and that becomes one of the show’s running unspoken gags. They’re so obsessed with being alone that they don’t realize they aren’t.

That’s not the only point. Alone Together, like You’re the Worst and others, lets weird outsider kids accept who they are, at least sometimes, and not spend their lives beating themselves up over what they’re not.  

That can make Alone Together disturbing at times. And maybe in an odd way, because sometimes we cringe and wince, and sometimes we laugh, it’s sort of hopeful.

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