In Season 2, HBO’s Somebody Somewhere Is Ready to Be Found

TV Reviews Somebody Somewhere
In Season 2, HBO’s Somebody Somewhere Is Ready to Be Found

Somebody Somewhere is an oxymoronic show. Its title conveys a vague, wandering sense of an everywoman caught adrift, unmoored to a time and place we may know and belong to ourselves. But Somebody Somewhere is about Sam, a specific, fully inhabited forty-something woman played breathtakingly by Bridgett Everett. She lives in Manhattan, Kansas. She wears colorless t-shirts and elastic-waist pants. She boasts stringy, unstyled hair and rarely dons makeup. She’s the type of woman you likely know but have rarely if ever seen on screen, driven not by motherhood, her career, or anything these types of roles would normally focus on, but by a congenital desire to do right by her family and friends. And yet, she is wholeheartedly never just somebody, somewhere. 

In its second season, HBO’s understated gem picks up where it left off, using small moments to ask big questions and solidifying its place as one of modern TV’s best-kept secrets. Sam and Joel (a career-best Jeff Hiller) have committed themselves to getting their 10k steps in, but they every once in a while might cheat on their “designated non-drinking” days. Sam’s uppity sister Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) has closed down her shop and shipped off her daughter to college. And though their screen time may have lessened, the presence of Sam’s parents still lingers: mother Mary Jo’s (Jane Drake Brody) rehabilitation stint has taken a rebarbative turn, and father Ed (the great Mike Hagerty, who passed away pre-production) has departed on a boating voyage to Corpus Christi, leaving his daughters the duty of cleaning out the family farm. 

Sam’s roots in her hometown have grown stronger at this point, and Somebody Somewhere continues to deliver laughter and tears with little stylistic or tonal difference from the last time around. Created by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, the show retains the low-fi, unfussy dramedy vibe in which executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass specialize. Stalks of corn dance in the wind in the opening credits, and characters go to work, run errands, and lounge about in their underwear. For a show that dabbles with such matters as grief, alcoholism, and small-town desolation, its aims are decidedly modest, negating bitter ironic detachment and cosmopolitan smugness in favor of sly optimism and naked truths.

Somebody Somewhere Season 2 Trailer Teases the Return of HBO's Underrated Gem

Small addendums to the formula do resound. If its first season was about repelling loneliness by forging connections with new friends and old family, the second season is about the ways in which loneliness creeps up on us when we least expect it. Sam and Joel talk through their dream weddings, play “pound it or pass” while eyeballing strangers at the park, and gawk at steamy sex scenes on TV (“This is why we pay for premium”). But while their love for one another as friends is incomparable, the gap that romance can fill in a person’s life dangles wordlessly in front of each of them.

Everett and Hiller’s good-humored chemistry (perhaps the show’s raison d’etre) remains unmatched, letting Sam and Joel’s natural rapport simultaneously wash over us and erupt in laugh-out-loud, unexpected moments. This is not the type of comedy in which the jokes come at its characters’ expense, nor is it one in which the bicoastal gaze cracks down on “simple-minded” Middle America. Each laugh (and in Season 2, there are many) derives from the humane absurdity of everyday life. Often, the characters on screen might go into fits of guffaws after one perfectly timed wisecrack or as a reaction to another ludicrous misfortune—a gut-busting (no pun intended) scene early on involving some crass body humor is somehow both horrifically embarrassing and profoundly tender.

But that tenderness, the ineffable attention to the steady benevolence that binds people together even in the toughest of circumstances, is the anchor that keeps Somebody Somewhere afloat. Its plot rarely surprises: relationships falter, people reconcile; characters lie, then get found out. But Somebody Somewhere is not concerned with keeping viewers on their toes as much as it is with staying honest about the ways in which our emotional limitations—the ways in which our grief and baggage curb our capacities to forget and, in some cases, forgive those we love most—can contract as much as they can stretch.

“Families aren’t easy,” one character maintains toward the end of the fantastic season. “Even the fun ones.” Somebody Somewhere may center itself on the minutia of quotidian life, in a place far away filled by people we can recognize but perhaps never know. But its quiet meditations unspool beyond the borders of its frame, letting everybody, everywhere into its beating heart.

Somebody Somewhere returns Sunday, April 23rd to HBO (Streaming on HBO Max).

Michael Savio is an editorial intern at Paste Magazine based in New York. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at NYU in media and humor studies.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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