Sam begrudgingly works at a local standardized test facility where she grades essays written by students. It's also the site where she meets Joel (Jeff Hiller), another grader. Although Sam was a little skeptical of him at first because he seems overly nerdy and enthusiastic about her, they quickly form a bond after he offers her some tissues while taking a quick step outside at work.
Though she has no recollection of who he is, Joel quickly explains that the two of them were in show choir together back in high school; he had always idolized her for her personality and singing. She feigns remembering him, though Joel says it's okay because "a lot of people don't remember me." He doesn't even say that in a sad way, but it's in that sentence that Sam realizes what kind of person he is and that they're more alike than she had initially thought.
Their relationship is almost like a fan somehow becoming best friends with their favorite singer. At one point, Joel even says, "God, I can't believe I like 'know you' know you now." It's a very pure, sweet sense of adoration that's not shown within the context of friendships very often on television. In a sense, if Sam isn't able to love herself at the moment, Joel is going to fill that job for the time being.
While Sam clearly hates her job, it's the one escape from living at home with her family, where she has been since her sister, Holly, got sick and passed away six months prior. Her mother is a low-key alcoholic who accidentally walks into glass doors, and her father is the opposite: a quiet farmer who's on the same wavelength as Sam. She also has another sister, Tricia, who butts heads with her and constantly berates and questions Sam about what she's actually doing with her life.