Review by Sean Boelman
Somebody Somewhere was one of the most critically acclaimed shows of last year, quietly picking up enough fans to get it a season two renewal. The show returns with another breezy batch of seven episodes, managing to one-up its already refreshing first season with even more hilarious and heartfelt moments.
This season follows our protagonist Sam (Bridget Everett) as she and her family — both biological and created — go through their lives in rural Kansas, only to find themselves beginning to drift apart. While some of the story beats are a tad on the predictable and dramatic side, the show manages to avoid ever feeling melodramatic.
It is worth noting that the humor in this season is a bit cruder than the last, yet it still maintains its mostly wholesome and heartwarming tone throughout. Sure, they’re making scatological jokes or telling each other that they’ll “c-u-next-Tuesday,” but it’s all done in good spirits, and it consistently gets laughs as a result.
One welcome development this season is that some of the supporting characters — like Joel (Jeff Hiller) and Fred (Murray Hill) — get more developed individual arcs. Everett’s Sam is still the focus of the show, and she’s still as charmingly flawed as she was before, but it’s nice to see the second season expand the world in this way.
An increased focus on Joel and Fred also allows the series to dive more into its LGBTQIA+ themes. Although the first season was interesting in its depiction of the queer community in the small town American heartland, this season really gets to explore that deeper. And yet, the show also doesn’t feel like it’s forcing these themes, instead showing them in a way that is natural and endearing.
The ensemble is as great as it was before, led by some astounding turns from Everett, Hiller, and Hill. All three are firing on all cylinders comedically and emotionally. Hiller, in particular, is impressive this time around. While he was mostly a wacky sidekick in the first season, he gets to do some much more substantial things here.
And while this is a comedy with a relatively straightforward visual style, there is some very strong direction throughout. The season finale, which is directed by Jay Duplass, stands out as particularly tender. The final five minutes of the episode are both heartbreaking and moving thanks to a combination of Duplass’s direction and Everett’s performance.
Season 2 of Somebody Somewhere manages to be even better than the first season, which was one of the hidden gems of last year’s new shows. Sure, it’s quaint, but that’s exactly what makes it charming. It’s just nice all-around, and there aren’t a ton of shows like that right now.
Somebody Somewhere debuts on HBO on April 23 at 10:30pm ET/PT, with new episodes airing subsequent Sundays. All seven episodes reviewed.