Most modern series feel beyond our grasp, often too otherworldly. Even in a comedies like Ted Lasso, whose entire premise hinges on the relatability of its Midwestern lead, the characters’ world feels out of reach. It’s why a series like Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen’s Somebody Somewhere feels like an outlier. The good kind. The kind that sneaks up on you and bowls you over with its rich characters, raw humanity, and simplistic backdrop. Coming from a critically successful first season, Somebody Somewhere is back and stronger than ever. No sophomore blues for this HBO series, a hidden gem that almost seems out of place in the streamer’s most popular lineup.
Starring powerhouse performer Bridget Everett as Sam Miller, Season 2 picks up right where we left off. Still reeling from her sister’s death, trying to reconnect with the family she still has, and forging a newfound bond with an old high school friend, Joel (Jeff Hiller), Sam is on a continuous path in a search for meaning amid grief. This is a relatively ‘plain’ premise compared to other series that seem high stakes, and yet, Sam’s arc as a lost and grief-stricken middle-aged woman from the Midwest has created a more extensive emotional impact than anything else currently on tv.
Since its pilot, Somebody Somewhere has understood the beauty in this simplicity, and Season 2, thankfully, plays to its strengths. Sam is still figuring out who she is while struggling to solve new issues in her hometown: her fractured relationship with her other sister, Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison), an aging mother whose mental capacities continue to deteriorate, and coping with her inadequacies. Where does she fit in the world when she barely finds enough room within herself?
Everett’s performance builds upon her incredible work last season and is some of the best on television this year. Her Sam feels very real, like someone you’d meet at a bar who you share a beer and a heart-to-heart with. Her problems seem like the problems of almost anyone else you encounter in your everyday life; Sam’s responses to life’s harsh realities are avoidance and hiding behind dark humor. Everett expertly balances loss, anger, grief, and joy so seamlessly you forget she’s not real. Her balance of humor, sober maturity, and raw emotions play out like a poem with a natural cadence that shoots straight to the heart.
That’s the best way to describe this season and this series – like a beautiful and colorful poem. Set in the rural parts of Kansas, some of the scenery comes alive in its juxtaposition to the characters. Fields of sunflowers and orange-tinged sunsets become anchors to some of the more emotionally heightened displays between characters like Sam and Joel. It’s a balance of beauty and pain that transcends some of the more fundamental parts of the characters’ everyday life.
Somebody Somewhere continues to prove that sometimes simplicity is best. The hook to a good story is its characters, not an overly convoluted narrative or high-quality visual effects. It takes us back to the basics of television – what makes our humanity so compelling? Sam becomes a beacon for the messy ‘grownup.’ Her arc demystifies the idea that being grown automatically flips the switch on having your life together. The characters that orbit her also tag along in this theme. Her sister, Tricia, is freshly divorced and dealing with the fallout of her husband’s and best friend’s respective betrayals. Joel is figuring out where his spirituality influences his identity as a gay man. Sam’s identity crisis revolves around who she is, not just to herself but those in her life now that she’s reconnecting with her home.
It’s easy to get lost in life, but Somebody Somewhere is a strong reminder that the answers we crave are sometimes right before us, in the people we love and the places we choose to nurture. As cliched as it sounds, it’s never too late to start over, to prod at our hearts and hope something new can grow. The series never strays into the realm of fake platitudes and grating optimism. Every episode feels like a cathartic ritual that leaves you breathless and slightly knocked over. The kind of emotional release that comes from having a good cry after a long day.
New episodes of Somebody Somewhere debut Sundays on Crave.