Tag Archives: Somebody Somewhere

Kind & Generous — “Somebody Somewhere”

“Somebody Somewhere” gives me a phenomenal sense of calm. The series itself isn’t necessarily calm. Its small-town Kansas characters are frenetic, unmoored, and often judgmental. The show’s sensibility takes all this in with empathy, searching for the vulnerable moment underneath every joke or instance of lashing out. It’s beautifully human, and it features some beautiful humans.

Bridget Everett stars as Sam, who returned to the town of Manhattan, Kansas in order to take care of her sister Holly. We enter a year after Holly’s death. Sam is still stuck in town, sleeping on the couch, unwilling to use her late sister’s bed. She’s just getting by: emotionally, career-wise, day-to-day.

Sam’s own sister Tricia judges her. Their mother deals with alcoholism. Their father is falling behind in managing his farm. It’s not until Sam breaks down at work that a former classmate approaches her. This is Joel, and their friendship unlocks the series.

They spend time together and make each other feel seen. Joel is gay and out, so it’s not a romantic dynamic. It’s a gorgeous portrayal of friendship helping two characters who are treading water feel legitimized enough to start making small changes.

Joel runs a furtive open mic/song night at a local church. He wants Sam to come by because she used to be a singer. This is the community that Sam has so badly needed.

Everett is exceptional as Sam. She feels utterly real, less a character and more a person dealing with her own life. There’s a sense of her emotional turmoil being so mundane to her as to be utterly recognizable. It’s accessible to us in a way that doesn’t have to be acted, just understood.

Jeff Hiller’s Joel is a revelation because his is the kind of character who’s so easily written off as a joke or comic relief. He’s funny here – not as a punchline, but as someone who’s genuinely kind and caring.

Both Everett and Hiller are so generous to each other as performers that you want to laugh along with them. The writing is funny and the performances are comic, but you could say that for a lot of series. That you’re invited to feel in-the-moment with them, and that their generosity extends to the audience, creates an expression of comfort and safety. That allows the comedy to get to something deeper, something very human that we all share. “Somebody Somewhere” doesn’t just make us laugh, it recognizes our need to laugh. It brings that very vulnerable part of both its characters and audience to the surface.

Patience and timing allow the understated, realistic interactions to thrive. There aren’t too many ridiculous or unexpected things happening to drive the comedy. Instead, we see Sam and Joel during brief work breaks, on a lazy weekend morning, talking in the driveway or a store. The plot does escalate – for instance, Sam is deeply suspicious of Tricia’s husband Rick. These escalations aren’t the destination, though. They change our characters’ outlooks and relationships, but they feel more like stops on the highway as they keep going.

Mary Catherine Garrison, Mike Hagerty, and Jane Brody play Tricia, and Sam’s father and mother, respectively. They’re more than the simple stereotypes each could have delivered. I’m hard-pressed to find a character – even the occasional asinine one – who doesn’t come off as human in some way.

Another beautiful performance is delivered by Murray Hill as Fred Rococo, the open mic’s master of ceremonies and a local professor of soil science. Sam becomes close with him and looks to him as someone who’s a little wiser than she is. He never treats her with condescension, but rather with encouragement to figure out her own path, and with an understanding that at the end of the day, they can always sing together or drive his party bus around town to pick up their friends.

“Somebody Somewhere” shows how one person thinking “you’re a big fucking deal” can push you to treat yourself better. It shows that drawing strength from that can allow you to stand up to the people and structures in your life that minimize you. For Sam, that confidence comes from an introduction to friends who think that about each other. It gives her strength to lend that attitude to her family. It introduces her to community, and how community is constructed.

Every character in “Somebody Somewhere” helps another get back up again even while struggling to do this for themselves. This fosters kindness and inclusiveness (the cast has some good LGBTQ+ representation). It creates resilience, not by pretending weakness doesn’t exist, but rather by recognizing when someone needs help and offering kindness, interest, communication, and support.

That the show itself feels like it offers some of those things – I might have once called that rare, but it seems more are recognizing these needs. “Somebody Somewhere” joins “Our Flag Means Death”, “Komi Can’t Communicate”, and “Abbott Elementary” as new series in the last few months that all investigate the persistence of kindness and the construction of community. Where once acidic humor and conflict defined our comedies, it seems like we are getting at least a few that dump this in favor of finding empathetic humor through understanding others and the satisfaction of seeing them accepted.

You can watch “Somebody Somewhere” on HBO Max. It is renewed for a second season.

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New Shows + Movies by Women — January 21, 2022

We’ve got another week with a lot of entries. Most of the series come from the U.S., but most of the films are international. It makes for a week with many different options. Entries come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, and the U.S.

We’re still in the mid-season premiere period when many new series follow the one-episode-a-week format. These things are seasonal, so as we get into February, expect to see that dwindle and more of the all-episodes-at-once format become more common again.

Since there’s a lot, let’s get right into it:

NEW SERIES

Somebody Somewhere (HBO Max)
co-showrunner Hannah Bos

Sam feels like an outsider in rural Kansas. As she deals with the loss of her sister, she’s able to start identifying where her real community lies.

The show is developed by and stars comedian Bridget Everett. Hannah Bos showruns with Paul Thureen. Bos has written on “Mozart in the Jungle”, “High Maintenance”, and “Strangers”.

You can watch “Somebody Somewhere” on HBO Max. New episodes arrive on Sundays.

Single Drunk Female (Freeform, Hulu)
showrunner Simone Finch

Samantha has a breakdown in public and moves back in with her mother to avoid jail time. She struggles with remaining sober and getting through rehab.

Showrunner Simone Finch worked as a showrunner’s assistant on “Madam Secretary”, and the “Roseanne” reboot, and as a writer on “The Conners”.

You can watch “Single Drunk Female” on Freeform or Hulu. New episodes drop on Thursdays.

How I Met Your Father (Hulu)
co-showrun by Elizabeth Berger

“How I Met Your Father” is a standalone sequel to the 2000s hit “How I Met Your Mother”. Hillary Duff stars as Sophie, a photographer trying and failing to find her soulmate. Kim Cattrall takes up the role as the older version of Sophie, who’s telling this story to her son.

Elizabeth Berger showruns with Isaac Aptaker. The pair also showrun Hulu’s “Love, Victor”, a similar standalone sequel that started off charming enough, but was probably the most improved show of 2021 with its second season.

Pamela Fryman returns to direct the first two episodes. She directed 196 of 208 “How I Met Your Mother” episodes, though I’m unsure if she directs more than the two-part pilot here.

You can watch “How I Met Your Father” on Hulu. New episodes premiere Tuesdays.

Summer Heat (Netflix)
by various

“Summer Heat” follows the young workers at a resort as they build and wreck and rebuild relationships over a summer.

It’s hard to pin down who exactly’s running the Brazilian series, but the head writers are Andrea Simao and Andrea Midori, while the series is directed equally by Caroline Fioratti and Isabel Valiante.

You can watch “Summer Heat” on Netflix. All 8 episodes are available at once.

Tales of Luminaria: The Fateful Crossroad
directed by Katou Midori, Katou Shiori

This anime tells the story of young soldiers in an ongoing fantasy war. While this is part of a franchise, the “Tales of” series is much like “Final Fantasy”. Entries such as this take place in a new world with new characters that are all separate from the rest of the franchise.

Both Katou Midori and Katou Shiori worked on “Bungo and Alchemist: Gears of Judgement”, but this is the first time either is directing.

You can watch “Tales of Luminaria: The Fateful Crossroad” on Crunchyroll or Funimation. New episodes arrive Thursdays.

NEW MOVIES

Stop-Zemlia (VOD)
directed by Kateryna Gornostai

This Ukrainian film follows a girl who’s trying to make sense of growing up as she hangs out with classmates. The experimental drama employs a documentary style.

Writer-director Kateryna Gornostai started out as a journalist and documentary filmmaker. This is her first narrative feature.

See where to rent “Stop-Zemlia”.

Amandla (Netflix)
directed by Nerina De Jager

This South African thriller follows two brothers who work on different sides of the law. One’s a thief who’s trying to leave the profession, the other a cop trying to figure out what he’s doing.

This is the first film from writer-director Nerina De Jager.

You can watch “Amandla” on Netflix.

Donkeyhead (Netflix)
directed by Agam Darshi

Mona doesn’t have much success to speak of, but at least she was the one responsible enough to stay behind and take care of her father. When he has a stroke, her three successful siblings sweep in to assume control of the one thing she was doing well.

As well as starring in the lead role, Agam Darshi writes and directs. This is her first feature film in those roles. She’s had a number of acting roles on shows like “Sanctuary” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”.

You can watch “Donkeyhead” on Netflix.

Definition Please (Netflix)
directed by Sujata Day

Sujata Day writes, directs, and stars in a film about a former Spelling Bee champion who attempts to reconcile with her estranged brother. He’s returned home to help care for their mother, and she’s considering leaving to take the kind of dream job that was once expected of her.

You may recognize Sujata Day as a supporting actress from series like “Insecure” or “The Guild”. This is her first time writing or directing.

You can watch “Definition Please” on Netflix.

A Shot Through the Wall (VOD)
directed by Aimee Long

A Chinese-American police officer shoots a Black man. The shooting was accidental, and his victim was innocent. He tries to identify what the right choices are in the media frenzy that follows.

I do not know how well or responsibly this engages the very real targeting and systemic murder of Black people by police departments in this country.

This is the first feature film from writer-director Aimee Long.

See where to rent “A Shot Through the Wall”.

The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet (MUBI)
directed by Ana Katz

Sebastian shifts from job to job and love to love, even as the absurd world around him verges on apocalypse.

Director and co-writer Ana Katz has helmed a number of South American films, and has three Argentinean Academy Award nominations for her screenwriting.

You can watch “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet” on MUBI.

Comets (MUBI)
directed by Tamar Shavgulidze

Irina returns to her small town for the first time in three decades. Here, she copes with the past and deals with her separation from a woman named Nana.

The Georgian film is directed by Tamar Shavgulidze. It appears to be her first film.

You can watch “Comets” on MUBI.

My Father’s Violin (Netflix)
directed by Andac Haznedaroglu

In this Turkish film, a girl is orphaned and taken in by her uncle. He’s arrogant and they don’t get along, but they bond over a shared love of music.

Director Andac Haznedaroglu has helmed a number of Turkish films and series, including “The Guest Aleppo to Istanbul” and “Have You Ever Seen Fireflies?”

You can watch “My Father’s Violin” on Netflix.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, subscribe to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.