Esther and Benji of “Alone Together” aren’t compassionate characters. They don’t need you to pity them. They don’t need you to sympathize with them. But they do need you to stop asking if they’re dating.
The new Freeform sitcom wants to be a millennial love story without the love. Esther (Esther Povitsky) and Benji (Benji Aflalo) aren’t dating, as they constantly remind family members, friends and random employees at the juice bar. They’re just best friends.
It’s a trope that TV has tried before — and frequently — but it never lasts: platonic friendship.
Unlike FXX’s “You’re the Worst,” which seems to be both an inspiration and antithesis to “Alone Together,” Esther and Benji don’t have chemistry beyond a shared need for attention and a willingness to change for others.
Esther wants to work in fashion. Benji wants a girlfriend. Neither seems to know how to achieve those goals, although Povitsky, known best as Rebecca Bunch’s deranged coworker on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” does fake a pretty good Hot Girl.
But while the friends may be relatable, they’re not likable.
Povitsky, 29, said she’s fine with that.
“It’s OK if I have bad qualities. It’s OK if I’m a little selfish. It’s OK if I’m a little nosy. It’s OK if I make bad decisions. And it’s OK if I’m lazy. It’s OK. Everybody has bad qualities. We don’t have to pretend that we’re perfect,” she told the Daily News.
“That’s not real. I want people to feel like it’s OK to be themselves.”
She and Aflalo, like their characters, have always been platonic. And, like their characters, they have faced nine years of questions.
Aflalo said that friendship isn’t as uncommon as it was in previous generations.
“Millennials are pretty single,” he told The News. “Youth gets extended, so it only makes sense that people our age would relate to not being in a traditional relationship.”
In his 20s, Aflalo said, he wanted “all the stuff”: a wife, kids, a house. Now, he knows better.
“If you force it, you’re going to find yourself in trouble,” he said.
So he stays single; all of his relationships have “blown up in my face,” he joked.
Povitsky told the Daily News that she wants her character to show viewers that they don’t have to be perfect.
Povitsky said that was one of the reasons she wanted to create “Alone Together”: To prove that platonic relationships are not only possible, but healthy.
“Will-they-won’t-they is inherently exciting,” she said. “But it’s not real. When I like someone, I go for it.”
Her show won’t do “will-they-won’t-they,” Povitsky promised.
“This is strictly a buddy comedy,” she said.
“I don’t need to see another show about a woman in a fancy job with a fancy love interest. To me, it’s just not real and I’m sick of that.”
So Esther doesn’t have a fancy job or a fancy love interest. She does accidentally become an escort temporarily. But she doesn’t have anything together.
“When they watch it, I don’t want them to be like me,” Povitsky said. “I want them to be like themselves.”
“Alone Together,” which was already renewed for a second season, airs Wednesdays on Freeform.