How the duplass brothers have worked together for almost 40 years without killing each other – the boston globe electricity quiz 4th grade


‘‘Like Brothers’’ takes on a confessional tone at times, because the ‘‘two guys from the South who didn’t go to therapy,’’ as Mark frames it, often iron out personal issues through their creative work. We see this in the e-mail exchanges they quote, which also include the grown men calling each other ‘‘Dupiss’’ or signing off as ‘‘diarrhea party 2049.’’

The two were close while growing up in Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans. Mark notes that Jay was always willing to play with him, whereas ‘‘most older brothers hold [their younger brothers] down and fart in their faces — at least, in the ’80s in the South, that’s what they did.’’ The Duplasses slept in the same twin bed by choice. In their free time, Jay borrowed his parents’ camera and directed Mark in short films.

Mark frequently visited Jay in college, and the two attended Q&A sessions held by the likes of Richard Linklater. Seeing the filmmakers walk around in jeans and white T-shirts, eating at familiar Austin spots, the brothers realized that people like them — regular people! — could make movies, too.

It’s a movement they identify with, unlike the mumblecore subgenre they were tossed into because of their projects’ heavy improvisation and emphasis on human intimacy. The label landed them in The New York Times early on, and they’re grateful — but ‘‘we don’t feel like our characters mumble, and we’re actually wildly obsessed with plot,’’ Jay says. ‘‘It’s weird to be the godfathers of a movement that you didn’t create, you know?’’

Regardless, the rise of mumblecore contributed to the cult status of 2005’s ‘‘The Puffy Chair,’’ perhaps the indiest of indie road movies, and 2008’s ‘‘Baghead,’’ a comedy about four struggling filmmakers, both of which premiered at Sundance.

When co-directing, Mark and Jay regularly hold what their longtime friend and collaborator Steve Zissis calls ‘‘Duplass brother powwows’’ to make sure their visions align. It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which they wouldn’t. In response to a silly tweet that proposed a Duplass brothers-themed Met Gala, the pair trade ideas on what that would entail.

‘‘But what about us in our hiking gear, with your vest that holds all of our keys and protein bars and carb-loading bars and your water filter and our matching visors?’’ Mark suggests as Jay munches on a granola bar he just pulled out of a Patagonia fanny pack.

Clearly, they’re on the same page. But even this harmony wasn’t enough to make their aptly named HBO series ‘‘Togetherness’’ an entirely enjoyable experience. The brothers spent about 13 hours a day together, writing, producing, and directing every episode. Mark also acted in all of them.

The show’s first season also overlapped with the last of ‘‘The League,’’ an FX series Mark starred in with Aselton, while Jay continued to appear in Amazon’s ‘‘Transparent.’’ (Disclosure: Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) They were also about a year into writing ‘‘Like Brothers.’’ When HBO nixed ‘‘Togetherness’’ after two seasons in 2016, they finally found room to breathe.

‘‘This is no longer a director who is trying his hand at acting,’’ Soloway says. ‘‘He’s one of the greatest actors of his generation. He’s just a channel for emotion and comedy. He is hilarious and also really deep. Most people are one or the other, you know?’’

Neither he nor Soloway has a solid idea of what the show’s future holds, given recent harassment allegations against its star, Jeffrey Tambor (who partially denies them). But Jay, who dove headfirst into this ‘‘reverse midlife crisis,’’ has plenty else on his plate. He co-wrote and starred in Lynn Shelton’s ‘‘Outside In’’ with Edie Falco and produced Miguel Arteta’s dramedy ‘‘Duck Butter’’ with Mark, who recently appeared in Jason Reitman’s ‘‘Tully.’’

‘‘Duck Butter’’ is part of the Netflix deal, another instance of their commitment to back their peers’ projects. They had a hand in boosting ‘‘Florida Project’’ director Sean Baker’s career by producing his breakout feature ‘‘Tangerine’’ in 2015.

It’s fitting that the Duplasses ended up at Netflix, whose vision seems to align with their spaghetti-at-the-wall approach. They’ve known Ted Sarandos since the early 2000s — before he was ‘‘president of the universe as the head of Netflix,’’ Mark says — but remain grateful that he hasn’t blocked their e-mail addresses. They’re well-acquainted with the possibility that no one will see their passion projects in theaters and don’t mind throwing projects into the streaming site’s void.