TV: Somebody Somewhere (Seasons 1–2)

An under-the-radar gem, Somebody Somewhere delivers a quiet, heartfelt story that’s at once quite specific and totally universal. Set in a placid Midwestern town in Kansas, it follows the emotional struggles of Sam Miller (Bridget Everett), a fortysomething ne’er-do-well, back in her hometown after time away. Sam came back to help take care of her ailing sister Holly, but now that Holly has passed away, she’s at loose ends. Trying to move forward isn’t easy, given the sniping judginess of her sister Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) and the iffy example set by her parents, inexpressive farmer Ed (Mike Hagerty) and alcoholic mother MJ (Jane Drake Brody). But unexpectedly, she finds solace in a co-worker: Joel (Jeff Hiller), a former classmate she doesn’t remember, but who definitely remembers her, and her talent for singing. With Joel’s unexpected friendship and support, Sam starts to rediscover herself and forge a new path.

Funny, sedate, and sentimental, Somebody Somewhere is a quiet, unassuming series about grief, family, disappointment, and friendship. It’s very slice of life, and because it’s the Midwest, that life is at once staid and complicated, its respectable rural normativity masking layers of repressed emotion and personal frustration for its fish-out-of-water characters. But there’s joy in how these small-town oddballs, especially the delightful Everett and Hiller, make space for each other in an imperfect environment. The messaging is inclusive, and while sometimes the show gets swept away by its own sentimentality, its focus on the aspirations and foibles of underrepresented character types is winning. Sam and Joel are somehow both unremarkable and uniquely extraordinary, and their touching friendship is worth the price of admission.

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