Debuting in 2015, “Superstore” has been a comedic force in NBC’s Thursday night sitcom rotation. Airing alongside hits like “The Good Place”, “Will and Grace”, and “Brooklyn-99”, the show has stood out for many reasons. Not only is it uproariously funny and incredibly bingeable, it also is one of the most important shows on television.
The show follows Jonah, Amy, Mateo, Dina and a whole cast of misfits and oddballs as they work in a Walmart-esque superstore called Cloud-9. Jonah, played by Ben Feldman, is essentially the audience’s liazon character, particularly in the early episodes, comparable to Jim, from “The Office”, or Ben, from “Parks and Recreation”. Amy, portrayed by America Ferrera, is the floor supervisor and a very serious, but likable character, who plays a motherly role to the insanity that is the rest of the cast.
Mateo, the comically hard working perfectionist; Dina, the security obsessed, self absorbed assistant manager and Garrett, clever but lazy goof off round out the rest of the main cast.
The early seasons are great explorations of what working at a big box department store is like, albeit with hilariously ridiculous scenarios all throughout. From working on Black Friday, to organizing a strike, to friends transferring to other stores, it does a good job of showing many real aspects of that lifestyle.
The show also has many heartwarming moments as well. My personal favorite episode from the first two seasons was the finale of season two, where the lovable but slow manager Glenn is forced to lay off ten percent of his employees, but a massive tornado forces the employees that were just fired to stay bunkered in the store. The episode ends with the tornado destroying the store, but the forced in nature of the disaster brings everyone closer together, making for some very heartfelt scenes.
The later seasons take a bit of a different approach, but this is in my opinion where the show shines the most. The cast itself is incredibly diverse, but seasons three to six are where the writers really use it to their advantage. This show has almost any type of representation you could think of. People who are disabled, LGBTQ+, refugees, undocumented immigrants, single parents, step parents, Latinx, Asian, African American, or anything in between are all featured somewhere in the cast. One of the most emotional arcs of the show is Mateo’s fight with ICE to not be deported in seasons four and five, even though he has lived and worked in the U.S. for years.
A later recurring plot point is the push for the Cloud-9 employees to unionize. Jonah’s original straight-man character dissolves away as we see him become more and more intense as a leader for unionization of the store. The show doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of low level employee union fights either. From mass layoffs, to contract negotiations and corporate misdoings. Superstore is fantastic at showing some of the darker sides of corporate-employee relations, and it is so refreshing to watch.
As the show enters its sixth and final season, it is not lacking for social commentary to make. The first episode back was a sort of look back at everything that happened in the United States since the end of filming its fifth season in March. From the beginnings of the pandemic and the confusion on safety measures, to protests resulting in looting of the store and much more, the first episode captured what it felt like living through the first half of this year extremely well, and was a bit surreal to remember and catch references to things I had forgotten about.
While I am very sad to see NBC call the show quits after this season, I understand. While the quality of the show has remained consistently hilarious and thoughtful, ratings have dropped season to season, and the story line does feel like it’s at a place it can end things well. I am very excited to see how the show wraps up, and I wholeheartedly recommend getting caught up on Hulu.