Somebody Somewhere S1E5: “Tee-Tee Pa-Pah”

Joel and Sam framed by a doorway, the latter holding a little dog
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

The following contains spoilers for Somebody Somewhere S1E5, “Tee-Tee Pa-Pah” (written by Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen and directed by Jay Duplass)

So it turns out Joel (Jeff Hiller) bought that little dog on an impulse because he was feeling sad, and it’s a decision he’s regretting a bit, at least at the beginning of “Tee-Tee Pa-Pah”—by the end of the episode he’s named the dog Roger, they’ve survived a tornado together, and I think he’s going to keep it. I suppose we’ll see. Tiffani (Mercedes White) is supposed to be looking for a new home for the little pup, and we don’t quite get confirmation that Joel has definitely changed his mind.

Joel huddles in the rain against a metal wall, holding his little dog Roger
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Neither does he inform Tiffani that choir practice is no more, though this seems to be the case, at least for the moment. I hope they find a new venue where she can perform the song on her flute she’s been working on, and I remain a little surprised that Pastor Deb (Ora Jones) would be so against the gathering. Of course, we didn’t get to see the full exchange when Joel told her, just his opening about having lied to her. He may have made things seem worse than they were, or not even given her the opportunity to make a decision.

Joel is very neurotic, but in the most lovable way. I want to be his friend, and this is part of what is so heartwarming about Somebody Somewhere. These people—Joel, Fred (Murray Hill), Tiffani—embody a general amiability even though we know they have faced hardship and difficulty.

Fred looks bemused in a cafe
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Here in S1E5, Sam (Bridget Everett) asks Fred whether he’s ever felt judged, and he moves beyond the initial “how much time you got?” response very quickly. Yet this is not a matter of Fred wanting to avoid bringing up his pain so much as it is about him wanting to focus on Sam’s difficult situation.

Of course there is the other side of thing, the judgmental “faith and family” folks like Tricia (Mary Catherine Garrison) and Charity (Heidi Johanningmeier), who will say they just want what’s best for you when really they’re constantly threatening to impose repressive values on your desires. But even they are more complex than that, when it comes down to it.

Sam makes a sour face as she holds a bottle of vodka, standing in a barn
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

Sam has learned that Rick (Danny McCarthy) has been cheating on Tricia with Charity, but Sam also isn’t sure whether to relay this information to her sister, because she fears Tricia will blame her for wrecking her marriage. And that happens! But it’s just a moment in a progression of moments between the two in the barn, that also includes drinking their mother’s terrible vodka, and ultimately going to track down the unfaithful couple.

Before that, I laughed when Tricia made a point of telling Sam that her comment about how much work she’d gotten done wasn’t passive aggressive—that she knows to at least some degree who she is and how she tends to treat her sister. There’s a pain in Tricia that bubbles up in S1E5, and not just in relation to her husband cheating on her. That cuts to something far broader about how she conceives of herself and her place in the world.

Sam and Tricia lie on hay on the floor of the barn
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

As Sam tells Fred, Tricia pretends that she’s never had sex with anyone else, and Sam knows for a fact that she’s “forgetting” about at least 12 people, but that’s not the point. The point lies in her embrace of this family as giving meaning to her life, along with her shop. The fact that it is her friend and business partner, Charity…oh yeah, that punch in the gut was well-deserved. (I guffawed.)

Sam tells Joel she thinks the money she saw in Rick’s pocket was just from him saving up his allowance, but I remain a little less sure. I don’t think he was selling drugs and I never did think that, but I’m still a little suspicious. Also, I want to know why he was at choir practice. That’s what got Sam going on all of this in the first place, but she seems to have dropped that thread.

“Tee-Tee Pa-Pah”

We’re in the home stretch of Somebody Somewhere now, or at least of the first season. News broke this week that the show has been renewed for a Season 2. That makes me happy because this show is delightful. And I feel really invested in the idea of choir practice happening again. I want to hear Tiffani play her flute, and to hear Fred crack wise behind the mic. I will probably cry a little.

Tiffani smiles while wearing a white coat and a stethoscope around her neck
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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  1. Thank you. You really got to all the best bits in the best episode of this remarkable series. And I too want to know what the heck Rick was doing at choir practice.

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