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How Amanda Peet Became TV’s Secret Weapon

She’s the anchor of IFC’s Brockmire, but seek out HBO’s Togetherness for the real all-star performance.
  • Amanda Peet stole the show on HBO's Togetherness.
    Amanda Peet stole the show on HBO's Togetherness.

    If you’re looking for a simple and quick comedy fix, IFC's Brockmire, now entering its third season, might be a great bet. It has a simple premise, (Hank Azaria is a Major League Baseball announcer who has meltdown and decides to take a job announcing minor league games) snappy dialogue, a breezy, summer-y atmosphere, and only eight half-hour episodes per season. In addition to Azaria, it also stars Amanda Peet as Jules James, owner of both the town bar and town baseball team which Brockmire begins to work for, which leads to a variety of personal and professional catastrophes for the two. While the title character might belong to Azaria, it becomes clear just by the first episode how much Peet is the anchor the show. It’s another reminder of just what an excellent and deeply underrated actress Peet is. She’s someone who has been slyly turning out great performances on TV for the past several years, although her shining achievement is her work on HBO’s cancelled-too-soon dramady Togetherness.

    Created by brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, Togetherness centered on the four-way dynamic of Brett and Michelle (Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey), a married couple living in Los Angeles, Brett’s best friend Alex (Steve Zisis), and Michelle’s sister Tina. Tina, played by Peet, begins the show as a main source of comedic relief from the marital strife of Brett and Michelle. But as the series goes on, Tina begins to emerge as the bruised heart at the show’s center. She is at turns both sharp and sensitive, as quick with a one-liner as she is with a slight adjustment of the face which reveals the surprising depths of her loneliness. Peet really hits her stride in the second and final season of the show, where Tina slowly begins to try to cobble together a life for herself. She is wickedly caustic in a party sequence when confronted with the new girlfriend of Alex, whom she harbors an unrequited love for. Later in the season, she delivers a beautiful monologue to her brother in law about how she feels it’s too late for her to achieve her dreams of motherhood and self-fulfillment. Peet allows for us to really see what a true mess Tina is in moments like these, and her performance (and the show) are all the better for it.

    Watching Peet’s work on Brockmire and Togetherness, not to mention her role on the ill-fated Aaron Sorkin project Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and her recent episode of Amazon’s The Romanoffs, the qualities that make her such a special actress become blatantly obvious. She has such a natural chemistry with anybody she is working opposite, be it Matthew Perry or an infant. She possesses a Holly Hunter-like quality where she can be both serene or a roiling, anxious mess at any given moment. And her eyes. As wide and blue as the ocean, Peet uses them to dazzling effect. They can be used to deliver the nastiest roll or well with even the tiniest of tears that evoke such real heartbreak, all with the slightest hint of mischief.

    While Togetherness unfortunately only lasted two short seasons, the show, and Peet’s performance is nothing short of miraculous and demands to be sought out. One can only hope her work on Brockmire and any other hopeful television projects in her future will remind audiences of just how lucky we are to have Amanda Peet on our screens.

    Stephen Hladik is a freelance culture writer and actor. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_hladik 

    TOPICS: Amanda Peet, Brockmire, Togetherness