Review by Sean Boelman
A lot of comedians make their transition to the screen by taking bit parts until the opportunity comes along for a meaty leading role in a series, and Bridgett Everett’s chance to shine is Somebody Somewhere. A poignant, heartfelt dramedy, the Duplass Brothers-produced show is a charming start to HBO’s slate of new series in 2022.
The show follows a woman who, despite growing up as the daughter of a farmer, struggles to fit in with the rural lifestyle of her small town, finding a sense of belonging among a group of outsiders. Although we’ve definitely seen plenty of stories like this before, this is still a very compelling entry in the subgenre.
This is a series that lives or dies by its subplots, and thankfully, it is easy to get invested in a lot of the side characters. Unfortunately, with just seven half-hour episodes, it feels like we don’t get to spend much time with these people, but what has been done is done well. The subplot that dominates the last few episodes is a bit on the soapy side, but otherwise it works quite well.
It definitely seems as if the intention was to make the audience feel as if they were observing life in everyday, small town America, and to an extent, it works. However, there are a few characters that definitely do not feel natural whatsoever, resulting in a motley crew that’s perhaps a bit too motley for its own good.
Ultimately, it does feel like a little more could have been done to make the audience connect to the story. It’s clear that the protagonist is frustrated with her life, but she has a very vague backstory. Thankfully, the series doesn’t fall back on exposition, but it also fails to distinguish this character from a lot of others in the annals of television history.
That said, Everett does bring a definite personality to the character, and that is a lot of what makes the show so charming. Still, it is surprising that Everett doesn’t get a majority of the comedic material in the series. The funnier performances come from Jeff Hiller and Murray Hill, both of whom steal the show.
The short episode count also works against the series in that it’s not really able to explore its themes with as much depth as it needed. There are some really interesting tidbits about the LGBTQ community in rural areas, but this is largely relegated to a subplot. Some of the most memorable parts of the series are not the big scenes, but the brief wisdom in some short bits of dialogue.
Somebody Somewhere is a pleasant little series full of earnest emotions and tender moments. Although it doesn’t always hit all of its targets, when it does, it will leave viewers with a smile on their face.
Somebody Somewhere debuts on HBO on January 16 at 10:30pm with additional episodes airing subsequent Sundays. All seven episodes reviewed.