YOUR WEEKLY BINGE: Somebody Somewhere

You’d think you would have heard about a show that’s on HBO MAX (now just MAX) that’s had two seasons already and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Well, I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of Somebody Somewhere, the best show nobody is watching. I’m here to change that.

Somebody Somewhere is a sweet comedy with tons of heart. Don’t roll your eyes, this time it’s really true. It stars Bridget Everett in a semi-autobiographical story about a woman living in a small town in Kansas who “struggles to fit the hometown mold,” as IMDB describes it, and that’s a perfect summary. Bridget plays Sam, a wisecracking free spirit who dreams of life beyond her small town, but is stuck there, due to the needs of her family and, well, her own fears and insecurities. She takes out her frustrations on her family, which include her sister Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison), her well-meaning father (Mike Hagerty) and her frustrating alcoholic mother (Jane Brody).

The story starts a few months after the death of Sam’s sister, the person she was closest to in the world. Even more shut off to her family and the world as she sinks into her own grief, Sam lashes out at work and is only saved from being fired by a co-worker, Joel (Jeff Hiller) who remembers Sam from high school, where she made an impression on him with her great singing voice. Sam has a hard time being grateful for Joel’s kindness, but Joel continues to be nice to Sam, and he eventually wins her over through his humor and heart. He convinces her to join him one night down at the local church, where a group of friends get together for karaoke. Once there, surrounded by other misfits and people who don’t fit in, Sam makes friends and finds a community, which helps to break her out of her shell and help her to find her voice again.

Somebody Somewhere is really not as saccharine as it may seem—ok, it is, but what makes it tolerable is the smartass way it gets there. Sam and Joel share a sense of humor that is twisted, bawdy and honest, and the scenes in which they riff with each other are gold. There is a true joy in watching their friendship blossom, mainly from Joel’s boundless enthusiasm and optimism, which Sam tries to resist as much as she can, but ultimately gives in to.

Hiller’s performance is gleeful and warm, like a puppy who just wants you to see you smile and he’s irresistible. Same for Murray Hill, who plays Fred, a character even more upbeat and optimistic than Joel. Fred, despite being a trans man living in small-town Kansas, is so comfortable in his own skin and is so hilarious in his own self-effacing and self-aware style that you just can’t help but fall in love with him.

So the whole point of Somebody Somewhere is to watch Sam, the cranky, bitter, grief-stricken smartass, be taken in by these sweet, kind and funny friends who love her unconditionally and teach her to embrace all of life, the bitter and the sweet. Not only is that journey hilarious, but it is oh so satisfying, warm and wonderful.

This show has been nominated for a Peabody Award in each of its first two seasons, and its first season was nominated for a Humanitas Prize. For any of you complaining that there is nothing on that is funny and kind anymore, now that Schitt’s Creek and Ted Lasso are gone, you are missing out on a true hidden gem.

Somebody Somewhere was renewed for a third season, so now’s the time to get caught up. You’ll be happy you did.