HBO’s Somebody Somewhere is just a gem of a show about the love you can find with friends and family, learning to deal with grief and loss, and embracing the triumphs, even when they’re small. In its second season, Sam (Bridget Everett) is still a work in progress, but that’s okay. What’s most important is finding your people and being honest and vulnerable enough to let them in and allow them to uplift you on your journey of self-discovery and through the stumbles along the way.
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During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Everett (who’s also an executive producer and writer on the series) talked about the slow unraveling of the story they’re telling, what they learned from doing the first season, keeping the spirit of Mike Hagerty alive in Season 2, the evolution of Sam’s friendship with Joel (Jeff Hiller), her approach to bathroom humor, the sister dynamic, and hopes for a possible Season 3.
Collider: When I spoke to you about Season 1, you told me that you were kicking some ideas around for a possible Season 2, if you got to do one. Is this Season 2 what you thought the second season would be? Did anything end up veering off of what you thought it would be?
BRIDGET EVERETT: The Fred Rococo story arc was always there. And there were some things that we kicked around about Tricia and Sam and sisterhood and forgiveness, and all that. It finds its own way, as you’re in the room and going through each episode.
Does it feel like there’s less pressure, when you’re telling a story on a show about ordinary people and you don’t have to keep threads of some sort of crazy mythology going? Is it easier just to tell a story about people?
EVERETT: It feels easier. You come up with the themes that you wanna talk about. But the pace of our show is a slow unraveling and really just living with the characters, at each step along the way. It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of drive. It’s more about how the people really feel, in real time, as their emotions are becoming undone and being put back together. So, it’s easier, in a sense that you don’t have to worry about goblins and time travel. But we have to think about how Sam might handle something that’s not the traditional TV way of doing it. Her growth is in very tiny increments, so it’s a slow unwind. It’s hard to know how to keep pace and to keep it interesting, but also stay true to what we’ve developed so far.
What did you learn from the experience of making the first season? You went into this series with your character being somewhat based on yourself, but how did making a season and playing the character help evolve that?
EVERETT: I think it was really helpful to see Season 1 on its feet, and to see what worked and like what we loved about it. When you’re in the editing room and you’re looking at something, you learn what you don’t want to repeat and what maybe doesn’t serve our show the best. What we found that we liked the most were the moments between the characters. It’s what Carolyn Strauss, one of our EPs, calls what happens in the cracks. That’s really important. And what was really great about writing Season 2 was that, yes, we now understand who the characters are, but we also don’t wanna lean on anything that was successful about the first season. You don’t wanna have a crutch. Carolyn was always pushing us, and HBO was pushing us, to make every moment deeper, have the characters feel deeper, and to go deeper. When we were starting Season 2, I was worried about, “Is there enough here?” But then, you get into the scenes and everyone is just so incredible. Mary Catherine [Garrison], who plays Tricia, is such an incredible actor. Jeff [Hiller] brings so much to Joel. We lost Mike Hagerty, who played Ed in Season 1, and that was a real blow to all of us. We really miss him, in a lot of ways. We miss him on a personal level, but also, what he brought to the show, which is what he brought to set every day, just warmth and heart and humor. But you take what you have, you move forward with it, and we try to carry a piece of him along the way, as well.
I loved Mike Hagerty in the show. I truly enjoyed chatting with him about the first season, and there was something so special about him in this role. And I really loved how you keep his memory alive throughout Season 2. Was that important to you? Is that something you wanted to do, to weave him into the story in the way that you do? Were there a lot of conversations about how to handle all of that?
EVERETT: Yeah. I didn’t know what we were gonna do, and then Carolyn came up with this idea, which is what we ended up doing with his character. It’s a really wonderful way to still have him there and have him with us. As far as everything I’ve seen from Mike’s career, this was something different. I felt like he was having a career renaissance, and he was so happy and lovely to work with and be on set with. He was a real part of our family. He passed away right before we started shooting Season 2, so it was a lot of reconfiguring. It just wouldn’t have felt right. It felt good having him there, in any way we could, whether it was just a reference to him, or whatever. He always felt like he was with us, and that made things a little easier to live with.
Sam and Joel are in a little bit of a different place in Season 2. They’re relying much more heavily on each other. They’ve really become each other’s person. What do you most enjoy about that relationship?
EVERETT: I had a friend like that in the early 2000s, who was one of my best friends. That feeling of being a little bit older and falling in love with a friend is so special. You don’t really get to see a lot of people in their 40s that are friends, fall in love with each other and get lost in each other. That’s a younger thing to do. I just think it’s so much fun living in the world of Joel and Sam, but nothing stays. You can’t have the honeymoon forever. There are hiccups along the way, and growth. They’re still growing and learning, but they’re always gonna come back to each other. I really love the Joel and Sam arc this season.
What was it like to find that with Jeff Hiller? You never really know how something will work until you’re actually in it and figuring it out, so what has it been like to find that with him and to really dig into that?
EVERETT: From the character that was on the page, Jeff actually, oddly enough, has a lot of things in common with Joel, like his history with religion. Murray [Hill], Mary Catherine, Jeff and I have all been kicking around for a number of years with modest success. And so, we’re all doing this together and having a moment together, which is really wonderful. Jeff, I knew the least well, out of everyone in the cast, so we were falling in love with each other as people, as the characters were, and it was a nice journey to have together. The thing about Jeff and Joel is that they’re undeniably warm and you feel immediately safe with them. They’re really funny and sweet, and it forces you to crack yourself open.
I have to ask you about the bathroom humor in episode two. Normally, I am of the mind that shits are not for giggles because it tends to happen with the same joke. But in this instance, I have to admit that I was actually laughing in that whole sequence, to the point where I was in tears. Bathroom humor has been done so many times, but this felt like it actually had a purpose for being there. How do you approach ensuring that’s funny, and how hard is that to do when it all takes place over the phone and you’re not even there together?
EVERETT: Well, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s based on something that happened to me in real life. There are two schools of thought, either farts are funny or farts aren’t funny, and we’re at a farts-are-funny school. I was like, “Oh, my God, I think we might lose some people on this, but go big or go home.” To me, it’s the absolute most intimate you could be with a friend, other than being in the room together and having the same experience. We wanted to show how connected and how tied together they were, and that felt like a fun way to do it. But actually filming it was incredibly vulnerable and scary. Honestly, I was dreading that day. When Jeff shot his, I was on a little earpiece, talking to him, and he did the same thing for me. That really helped because we were just trying to make each other laugh and comfort each other. A lot of that stuff is improv. I couldn’t believe the shit that we were getting up to, literally.
Normally, I don’t find that kind of thing funny because it often feels like that kind of humor is used to get a laugh when they can’t figure out how else to get a laugh. With this, it felt like you actually thought about it for the story and that it made sense.
EVERETT: That is the highest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my professional life. Thank you very much. It is doody humor, but with real purpose and real meaning. We’ve been talking about and kicking around ideas for Season 3, and we want Sam and Joel to do something fun, but this had a purpose and a reason, and it needed to be there.
I love that we get to see more of Sam and her sister together in this. It’s nice to see them bond and have each other’s backs even, if it is over the best phrases involving the word cunt. What do you most enjoy about exploring that bond in Season 2, and getting to really dig into it more?
EVERETT: What’s really important about that relationship is that Holly, their sister, who was the buffer, is gone. Their parents have left the picture. They’re left there, waffling in the wind together, and they have two choices, either to forget about each other or figure it out. Obviously, figuring it out is better TV. If I have a fight with my family, it really shakes me. It’s different with your friends. You take more care. Family just goes for the quick, at least in my family. So, I love seeing Sam and Tricia trying to find their way back to each other because they’re all they have left, in that way. And not just that, but Mary Catherine is good at a thousand things, as an actor, and I really love watching the character of Tricia grow in a much more willing and faster way than Sam can. Sam is inch by inch, and Tricia is a foot at a time, at least that’s the way I see it.
With Tricia being more of a mess now, Sam can actually relate to her a bit more than when she seemed to have everything together.
EVERETT: Yeah, you’re exactly right. Now, she’s more on Sam’s level, so Sam can get in there and take a swim with her. It makes more sense to her than the other Tricia, the Tricia with Charity sitting in the room, drinking wine with her friends. Once that world starts to fall apart, Sam is like, “Well, I get that. I understand the world falling apart.”
I also thought it was so funny that you had a brief moment there with a refrigerator co-star. Did you ever think you’d be in a scene, caressing a refrigerator on television?
EVERETT: That came from a place we were renting, where we had this refrigerator that could play music and had a touch screen. One night, I was high on the legal edibles in Illinois – thank you, Illinois – and we had a real fun, crazy night with the refrigerator. It wasn’t me that was grinding on the fridge, but there was grinding on the fridge, and I was like, “We’ve gotta put that in Season 2.”
It made me feel like I was missing something in my life, that all my appliances don’t play music.
EVERETT: If we get a Season 3, I’m getting myself a refrigerator that will talk to me and touch me.
I adore Fred Rococo. I adore Murray Hill. I just think that character is so fantastic. What makes a character like Fred, in a show like this, set where it’s set, so important, especially during the time that we’re living in? Why was that something that you felt was important to include and really highlight this season?
EVERETT: It didn’t start off intending to have any meaning. First of all, that’s how (co-creators) Paul [Thureen] and Hannah [Bos] pitched the world. They pitched the world of Fred Rococo, played by Murray Hill. Everybody else had to audition because there really is only one person that could be Fred Rococo. It’s also a reflection of my world. Murray is my friend. I would be friends with Fred Rococo. We would find each other. Those are the people I’m drawn to. We call each other misfits, or we’ve been referred to as misfits and outliers. You find your people, wherever you go. And so, to me, it makes perfect sense that Fred Rococo exists, and that he and Sam and Joel are all friends. Now, things have really hit the fan, politically, and now the show is more timely than ever, with legislation and all this drummed up hate against drag queens and the queer community and the trans community. It’s important that people see that we’re all just people. Everybody wants to connect with somebody, everybody wants to make their friend laugh, and everybody poops. For instance, my brother who lives in my hometown, doesn’t have a lot of experience with the same kind of people that I have in my life, so it’s great for him to meet these people. If he’s doing it through a TV show, then he’s doing it through a TV show. He loves Fred and he loves Joel. Joel is his favorite character. I’m like, “I’m your fucking sister. But of course, you love them because they’re great people. So, keep that in mind when you’re at the polls.” We’re all just doing the best we can. All of us. And to Murray’s credit, Murray is one in a million. He’s very special. He’s a great representation of a human being first, but also his community. We’re lucky to have him. He’s really funny and he’s full of heart, and that’s exactly what the show needs.
Do you pick the songs that you sing in this? Are you the one that decides what you sing in the show?
EVERETT: Paul and Hannah picked “Don’t Give Up” because they wrote the pilot, but I’m pretty much in charge of the music part of it. We discuss everything, but I want it to mean something to me because music means so much to me. With the song that the character Brad sings in episode two, I wanted that song for that character because I think it’s fucking funny, and he killed it. Every song has meaning and it’s there very specifically and for a reason. Sometimes you’re singing about your pussy in the car to your sister, and sometimes you’re listening to a beautiful classical piece sung by a community of people.
Are you hoping for a Season 3? Do you know what you’d want to explore? Are you thinking about exploring romance with the neighbor, at some point?
EVERETT: We’re definitely kicking around ideas for Season 3 and we hope to get that green light. We’ve gotta see how this season is received. It’s still a business, so I hope people watch. We’re not sick of these characters. We wanna live with them and stay with them, and keep diving in. It’s hard work. It’s really fucking emotional in the writers’ room. It’s not just, “Well, this queen is gonna kill this king.” It’s people, and it’s the small things that drive people, that make them hurt, that make them laugh, and that make them cry. When we’re in the writers’ room and I can’t speak because the lump in my throat is too much, that’s when I know it’s the right thing for Sam. So, we have a lot of really great things in mind for Season 3, should we get the opportunity.
Somebody Somewhere airs on Sunday nights on HBO and is available to stream at Max.