The following contains spoilers for Somebody Somewhere S1E2, “Knick-Knacks and Doodads” (written by Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen and directed by Robert Cohen)
Sam (Bridget Everett) tells Joel (Jeff Hiller) toward the end of Somebody Somewhere S1E2 that she doesn’t feel like she’s any good…at everything, which is silly of course in that she’s clearly good at singing, but the point is more general anyway. She isn’t sure she’s worthy of happiness, as she makes pretty explicit when she mocks Joel’s vision board earlier in “Knick-Knacks and Doodads,” and she isn’t sure she’s worthy of friendship either.
Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) and Charity (Heidi Johanningmeier) say they want what’s best for her, but their vision for her is not one that aligns with her happiness. That much is clear. The problem is that Sam doesn’t have a vision for herself. She couldn’t make a board like Joel’s and that’s why she lashes out at it. She misses her sister Holly but knows it’s a problem to hang the meaning of her own life on someone else, even if that person were alive.
Kim’s (Tyla Abercrumbie) advice is on the mark: buy the boat. But Sam doesn’t quite know what her boat is.
We see glimpses of her path forward in Somebody Somewhere S1E2 nonetheless, as when she goes to brunch with Joel, Michael (Jon Hudson Odom), and Fred (Murray Hill). What Sam wants is that feeling of belonging she got at choir practice, and yet struggles to extend outside of that setting. She chats up her neighbor Drew (Brian King) but then chastises herself for saying she’s going to go make a sandwich. She’s constantly caught in worrying about the judgment of others, as so many of us are, with our own judgments of ourselves filtered through their hypothetical views of us.
The joy of choir practice lies in the extent to which it offers an escape from those thoughts. Though I do wonder what Rick (Danny McCarthy) was doing there. He doesn’t seem like the right kind of guy to be attending this sort of event, which has nothing to do with a question about his sexuality. We’ve mostly seen him playing video games, and Sam spots a rolled-up wad of cash in his back pocket in S1E2, which just seems kind of weird but not in a good way. I hope he isn’t an ultimate threat to the existence of choir practice somehow, as an interloper who will tattle on the violation of norms in the context of the church that serves as its host, or some other ominous thing like that. But perhaps I am projecting a judgment on him based on a limited amount of data, and presuming things when I shouldn’t. Perhaps he also goes there for the joy and his gruff demeanor shields a senstive soul.
Sam wants not to care about what Tricia and Charity think, but it’s not that easy. She’s subjected to their judgments anyway, and it’s hard to shrug off the kind of remarks they make about her life and how well it fits their ideas of what it should be—or what an adult person’s life should be.
When you think about it, it’s not clear why anyone should care. What does it matter if you sleep until noon, or are forever single and childless? Some of us decide to go that way, but it can be a hard thing to own and be confident in that kind of decision.
Others presume that we have to adhere to certain values because they think that they also must. Perhaps they’ve never thought to question them, and aren’t even capable of doing so because then they’d have to admit that they aren’t happy either and face their own existential crisis.
Jean-Paul Sartre characterized the human condition as one of radical freedom, defined by anguish over the fact that one must choose how to be, and despair at the inability to count on other people in general. And yet he insisted that there is an optimism in this view, in that it means that everything is wide open. We are free to determine ourselves without any pregiven constraints. The problem is that we also have to.