When we hop on a Zoom with Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller to break down Somebody Somewhere‘s a sophomore season, of course, Episode 5 is high on the agenda, so much so that it catches Everett slightly off guard. “Geez, Nick. Really unpacking things today!” she exclaims.
How can we not talk about Sam and Joel’s biggest rift yet, which spawned feelings of hurt and betrayal between buds? In Sunday’s episode, the resident besties’ friendship experiences its first major bump in the road when Joel finds a new boo (Tim Bagley’s Brad, aka “SLS”) and lies to Sam about it. For a woman with pretty severe abandonment issues, she’s destroyed when she learns the truth, which happens to come from a waiter at their favorite restaurant, of all places.
When I’m speaking with the two costars about the series’ biggest drama yet, they’re enthusiastic. Boisterous even. It feels a bit like riding shotgun with their characters, except instead of belting Laura Brannigan tunes, I’m in the backseat grilling them about their feelings and wishing they would just bury the hatchet already.
“The new fella is sort of a surprise,” Hiller tells TVLine regarding Joel’s new… fling? (Boyfriend? Eh, who needs labels?) “It’s someone Joel wouldn’t have necessarily imagined. It’s maybe not the direct vision of what he had on his vision board, but Brad’s really good for Joel.”
So why the unnecessary lie then, I ask. Yes, Sam can be a bit reactive, but one can’t blame her for feeling shafted. Joel lied about his whereabouts one afternoon, telling Sam he had errands to run. What he was actually doing was spending quality time with Brad, a connection he purposely avoided telling Sam about. All that said, it’s sweet to see sparks of joy in him.
“He’s afraid to tell Sam because they do have this perfect dynamic and he’s afraid that anything new introduced into that dynamic will screw it up,” he says. “For Joel, it’s so important to have Sam love him because she is someone he’s worshipped forever and who knew him even when he was that mess of a person in high school. Now she likes him, so that validation is even more important to him. It’s something he craves even more, so I think he’s afraid of losing what was special between them.”
Is Sam being a bit oversensitive to the fact that Joel may have another special person in his life? After all, her friend is gay. But then again, there are two sides to every story.
“Lighten up, Sam!” laughs Everett when I ask for her take. “A version of this happened in my real life and I think that Sam — certainly not Bridget [Laughs] — thinks that sometimes you can only love one person at a time. That’s how she was with her sister Holly and now that’s the way she is with Joel. And I think she is afraid of losing that.
“I feel like you’re lying me down on the couch and telling me to talk about my problems because this feels a little personal, OK?” Everett’s laugh is warm and contagious and even though we’re talking about the show’s biggest contention yet, the mood is light. Spirits are up.
“‘Just because I wrote a show about it!’” Hiller chimes in, teasing the fact that the show is a product of Everett’s own small-town Kansan upbringing. In conversation, the two actors hit similar beats like those of their characters, rapidly ping-ponging off one another and cracking jokes to soften the real talk we’re wading through.
Continues Everett: “Sam has done a lot of work because she has faith in Joel. He’s cracked her open, right? Now she doesn’t want to lose him. You can understand why he would want [a relationship] for himself, to discover somebody new. He doesn’t owe Sam everything. Sometimes it’s nice to keep something for yourself, but that doesn’t mean the other person is going to understand, OK? She may get real fired up about it!”
Sam may have been extra emotional about the situation having just discovered that her late sister Holly’s cancer was diagnosed a full year before Sam found out. In seems, at least in part, that those close to her question what Sam can handle. Despite trying to help Trisha get through her first birthday as a divorcee, the sisters have a huge blow-out following the accidental reveal. Compounding on that, when Joel finally visits Sam to acknowledge his secret, it’s too little, too late. At least for now. Sam asks him to take his jacket and leave.
Will Sam and Joel be able to bury the hatchet? And will the sisters squash their latest family drama? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.