Somebody Somewhere
Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller star as former high school classmates in the "coming of middle age" series "Somebody Somewhere." Credit: Courtesy HBO Max

Over a decade ago, Bridget Everett emerged as a force of nature in the comedy world. Her live shows obliterate any barrier between artist and audience as she sings hilarious songs about sex, love, and having a good time, often accompanied by her band The Tender Moments.

Although her larger-than-life stage persona commands the attention of anyone within earshot, Everett’s greatest strength has always been her ability to connect with fans on a human level. Behind all the glitz, glamour, and hilarity, her heart cuts through the showbiz facade to reveal the sweetness at her core.

With the first season of Somebody Somewhere – a semi-autobiographical “coming of middle age” series created by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen that premiered on HBO Max on Jan. 16, 2022 – Everett’s heart is positioned firmly in the spotlight as she portrays Sam, a Kansan struggling to connect with her hometown community following the death of her beloved sister, Holly. It’s not a flashy, loud, headline-grabbing show like fellow HBO Max Sunday night fare Euphoria and The Righteous Gemstones, rather a quiet, careful, character-driven project about carving out your own niche in the world that is equal parts heartwarming and humorous.

Warning: Spoilers will be discussed from this point forward.

Somebody Somewhere follows Sam (Everett), who searches for self-acceptance and a sense of community through writing and singing. Following the death of her sister, she also wants to find a proper place in her family as her mother, Mary Jo (Jane Drake Brody), struggles with alcoholism, her father, Ed (Mike Hagerty) copes with running a farm, and her other sister, Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) discovers that her husband is having an affair with her best friend. Through an old high school classmate, Joel (Jeff Hiller), Sam meets a group of likeminded misfits – including Fred Rococo (Murray Hill) – and begins to find her voice.

Fans of Everett’s comedy may be expecting a lot of big, bold musical numbers – and, yes, there are a few – but the brilliance of Somebody Somewhere is in the way it takes its time to explore the fluid dynamics of relationships with small moments of humanity. Sometimes Sam is angry at her family, like when her mom doesn’t tell her rehab counselor about the death of Holly or when her seemingly perfect sister’s judgement becomes too much. But other times, Sam is the rock of the family, helping her sister at her store and finding ways for her dad to make the most out of his farming business. She holds people accountable, but always leaves room for forgiveness. Each episode unfolds with grown-up storytelling – subtly satisfying while still leaving room for recurring drama in upcoming seasons – that is anchored by charming comedic elements.

Throughout the first season, Sam and Joel often create their own definitions for things. In the world of Somebody Somewhere, “choir practice” does not mean singing hymns at church. It is instead a cabaret of sorts where Sam and her new friends connect through performance. “Church” isn’t the four walls where parishioners spend Sunday mornings in worship. For Sam and company, church is laughing your way through a late-night drive with your closest companions. Sometimes words can have multiple meanings in Somebody Somewhere dictionary. With blood relations “family” means loving each other, even if at the moment you don’t like each other very much other while “family” can also mean unconditional acceptance and support when in reference to Sam’s chosen family.

By the end of the season one finale, Sam redefines her place in this world. She quits her dead-end job, takes steps to pursue her love of music, and moves from sleeping on the couch – where she resided as she nursed Holly through her terminal illness – to her sister’s former bedroom. Her grief cautiously evolving into a place of acceptance.

Growing pains are often thought of as an experience of adolescence, but they can sneak up on you at any point in life. Somebody Somewhere reminds viewers that mid-life growth may be painful, but it’s not only possible, it’s also beautiful.

Somebody Somewhere has been renewed for a second season and season one can currently be streamed on HBO Max.

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Laurie Fanelli

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...