Somebody Somewhere is the warm hug we all need at the moment. It’s a show that celebrates the little victories in life.

by | Mar 7, 2022 | All, Reviews

In a television landscape where everything feels BIG and boundary-pushing, and where TV is almost shouting at you to stand out, it can be harder to find those smaller and more personal shows that might resonate with you.

Somebody Somewhere is one of those shows. It arrived with little promotion on HBO at the start of the year and received the same treatment by Sky where it snuck up on us as a full boxset.

Created by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and starring Bridget Everett in a star-making performance. The show focuses on Sam, a woman in her middle age, who returned to her small hometown in Kansas to care for her terminally ill sister. The show begins in the aftermath of her death. Sam is lost with no purpose or reason for being there in a town that is riddled with memories she’d rather forget. She’s living with her elderly folks. An alcoholic mother and her father who is still stuck deep in his grief and ignoring the world outside.

Sam’s life picks up when she is befriended by former high-school classmate, Joel (Jeff Hiller). She confesses to him that she never amounted to much “because I didn’t think I was any good.” When Joel asks what she’s referring to, she replies, “Everything.” It’s this central friendship that is the magic of the series. Joel sees how lost Sam is, and even though her memory of him is hazy, he remembers her for her talent as a singer in the schools’ show choir. In truth, Joel appears a bit in awe of her.

I have to confess I wasn’t familiar with Everett before this, but this tender and nuanced performance won’t be what people who know her for appearances in Inside Amy Schumer or her raucous stage performances will be expecting. From the moment she appears on screen, grading standardized tests, you empathise and ache for her. It’s a deeply personal performance and Everett sells it wonderfully. Immediately putting you on her side.

Joel sees the good within this grief-stricken, beaten-down woman who has completely forgotten what she used to be good at. He invites Sam to his “choir practice” – a deceptively titled celebration of music and queerness that provides a haven for the town’s misfits. It’s here that we’re let into the true magic of the series. Sam, with Joel’s persistent encouragement, nervously takes to the stage for the first time in years. It’s one of those rare moments in television that makes you as the audience feel as if you’re intruding on a deeply personal moment. Everett’s performance of the Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel duet, Don’t Give Up is incredibly powerful as the lyrics echo exactly how Sam is feeling. I can’t quite describe how beautiful it is.  Like everything here,  it feels effortless and deeply personal. It’s played to convincingly high stakes by both Everett and Hiller, and cements the two central romances of the series: Sam’s re-embrace of singing, which helps her to reconnect with her with the woman she once was, and the tender and winning friendship between her and Joel at an age when most adults often struggle to make new friends.

This isn’t Joel’s story but there are times it feels it could be. Jeff Hiller is wonderful here. He brings the best out of Sam, he too is stuck in a place he’d be happy to leave but he has carved out a place for like-minded people to share their creative sides without fear of judgement.

The show delivers one tender, believable and authentic performance after the other. From Joel’s friend Fred Rococo, the master of choir practice ceremonies played by the New York drag king, Murray Hill to Sam’s niece Shannon (Kailey Albus) who sees her aunt as one of the coolest people in her life.

Sam struggles to find common ground with Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison), who can’t understand why Sam is still is hanging around if she’s so unhappy. Even in its bigger, aggressive moments, it remembers to come at things from a balanced angle. After an argument with Trica, Sam lashes out at Joel. She resents his happiness. it only takes a day for her to make amends with self-effacing vulnerability. “I don’t think I’m really friend material,” she says.

She suggests of their dreams, “It’s not going to happen, and it’s definitely not going to happen here” — while making the little victories and minor defeats ring out much more loudly than if Sam’s life were a nonstop thrill ride.

Even Sam and Tricia’s attempt to get their father Ed (Mike Hagerty) to see that their alcoholic mother Mary Jo (Jane Brody) needs to go to rehab again is presented in muted fashion — the siblings know this likely won’t accomplish anything, but they want to try something.

It’s a show that isn’t likely to garner wide conversation but one that will be adored by those who stumble across it. It’s a show that celebrates being true to yourself and one that serves as a reminder that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. In a world that’s feeling more uncertain and scary by the day, a show like this is exactly the tonic we need. Instantly relatable, it shines a light on a community and an age group that is too often neglected by television and film. It is anchored by one great performance after another with truth and humanity running through it. I guarantee you’ll be hooked from the first episode.

Somebody Somewhere is available now on Sky Boxsets and NOW in the UK.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

07/03/2022

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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