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Bridget Everett as Sam in Somebody Somewhere.HBO / Crave

There is no shortage of glamorous young people on TV, celebrated for their beauty and bravery. And there is a clear shortage of series about ordinary-looking people, say in their forties, who are succumbing to middle-age regret. (On that point, remember that Ricky Gervais’s After Life returns to Netflix from Friday.) Well, this weekend there are two very different shows about average people. One is a beautifully honed dry comedy drenched with compassion, and the other is a far more lurid drama about a life gone off the rails.

Somebody Somewhere (starts Sunday, HBO, 10:30 p.m., streams on Crave) is the quiet and powerful one. It might easily be off your radar, but it shouldn’t be. Fortysomething Sam (Bridget Everett) returned to her hometown in Kansas to take care of her sister when the sister was getting cancer treatment. Now she has died and Sam is drifting, aimless and more than a little lonely. She’s got a dead-end job grading test scores and her own time is taken up with staying home, drinking alone and wondering what happened to her life. Not a lot happens from there, which is the point.

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This is a muted, observational series about someone who finds herself an outsider. There’s gentle, dry humour in Sam’s existence, but there is little dramatic plot and raw emotions are few and far between. You have the sense that Sam and the other characters are just people drawn from life, not figures created for TV. That’s what makes it feel true and in an odd way, wrenching. Everett is uncanny as Sam, an ordinary person just a little spooked by where life has landed her.

Somebody Somewhere doesn’t have a theme to shout about; it is blissfully anchored in life as lived by regular folks.

Over seven episodes (arriving weekly) only two things really happen. Sam gets the idea that her brother-in-law Rick (Danny McCarthy) is hiding something or fooling around, and she follows him in her car accompanied by one of her few friends, Joel (Jeff Hiller). Joel remembers her from high school when Sam was locally famous for her great singing voice. Now Joel introduces her to his own outsider friends, mostly gay, who have little parties in a church basement. If you think this will lead to Sam recovering her youth, passion and optimism, that doesn’t really pan out.

Somebody Somewhere (created by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, produced by Jay and Mark Duplass) doesn’t have a theme to shout about; it is blissfully anchored in life as lived by regular folks. As such, it’s a must-see with a fine knack for particularizing the subdued and the sweet.

Also airing/streaming this weekend

The Teacher is a four-part British mini-series about a school teacher accused of having sex with a student while blackout drunk.Courtesy of Super Channel

The Teacher (starts Sunday, Super Channel, 9 p.m., and on Super Channel on-demand) is the more lurid series. It’s a four-part British mini-series (arriving weekly) about a school teacher accused of having sex with a student while blackout drunk. It’s a bit of a mess, but ends up being a character study as much as it is a drama about a crime that may or may not have actually happened.

We meet Jenna (Sheridan Smith) waking up in some guy’s bed. Clearly she’s not sure what happened. At work, we discover Jenna is a popular and very good English teacher. Her students like her bubbly personality and down-to-earth attitude. She seems confident and the headmaster encourages her to apply for promotion. There’s been anonymous mail about her nightlife at a local nightclub but even the headmaster shrugs that off. What we realize quickly is that Jenna is lonely, single and gets drunk often.

When she’s promoted and there’s a party, the usual happens. Near the end of the first episode, she turns up at school and the headmaster tells her to leave: “There’s been a report of inappropriate behaviour between yourself and a pupil.” She’s arrested and questioned. She can’t remember anything and we are not shown the alleged sex. What follows is about her disintegration and inability to cope. Rumours fly and the whole town knows about the allegation. Sheridan, a huge star in England from TV and musical theatre, is very good here, but she’s let down often by a clunky script. There’s a mystery about what happened. But don’t expect a very sophisticated portrait of a flawed woman.

Hell or Clean Water is a documentary about Newfoundland diver Shawn Bath and his personal obsession with cleaning up the ocean floor in his area.CBC

Hell or Clean Water (Sunday, CBC, 8 p.m., streams on CBC gem) is also a character study. The documentary is the story of Newfoundland diver Shawn Bath and his personal obsession with cleaning up the ocean floor in his area. He’s been doing it for a while, removing thousands of pounds of garbage, at considerable cost to himself. At one point he shows that he has only $9 in his bank account. Attempting to get funding and allying with outside organizations puts him at odds with locals. Both an inspiring and cautionary story.

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