Straddling the line between comedy and drama is a hallmark of Jay and Mark Duplass’ prolific portfolio (Cyrus, Creep). However, now that recent Emmy guildelines deem all half-hour shows as comedies, the duo is being forced to pick a side. As creators of HBO’s Togetherness—about an L.A. couple, their children and couch-surfing friends and relatives, in which Mark also stars—the pair once again has made a show that combines both laughs and drama.
“It’s the weirdest thing in the world that a show like The League and a show like Togetherness are in the same category,” says Mark. “They’re just wildly different. Not to mention a show like Transparent, which is even more on the dramatic side.”
The dramedy flavor of their work grew organically, Jay says. “Mark and I came up in the 1980s watching HBO and a lot of funny and dramatic stuff like Tootsie and Hannah and Her Sisters. They were about relationships and family and the difficulty of navigating those waters and finding comedy in it, too. That was the stuff that made us feel like we weren’t alone in the world and that’s what we’re doing now, sharing parts of our lives and trying to find some comedy in it.”
But being put into the comedy-only box doesn’t bother them. “It doesn’t personally make me mad or send me up in arms,” Mark says. “Some people get really fussy about it, but to me, it’s like, ‘Oh they need categories and they need to do this.’ If HBO came to us and said, ‘This is a half-hour drama,’ we’d be like, ‘That’s fine with us.’ If the Emmys changed the categories, like, ‘Oh it’s now called half-hours versus hours, we’re not saying comedy or drama,’ I think we would just be like, ‘Whatever dude, you call it whatever you want. We’re just making what we’re making.’ ”