I’m not sure what compelled me to turn on Superstore last year, but I did and I’m thankful for it. Superstore has quickly become one of my favorite sitcoms.
Debuting on November 30th, 2015, Superstore was an NBC sitcom about a group of Cloud 9 employees in St. Louis. Cloud 9 was a hybrid of Walmart and Target, and many of the plot points were inspired by real situations that workers of big-box stores encounter such as being expendable to corporate, insane customers, and pushing idiotic promotions.
Like most workplace comedies, the cast and their relationship with each other is what makes or breaks the show. Luckily, Superstore did an amazing job with the casting which included the likes of:
America Ferrera as Amy (Ugly Betty)
Ben Feldman as Jonah (Mad Men)
Lauren Ash as Dina (Not Dead Yet)
Nico Santos as Mateo (Crazy Rich Asians)
Colton Dunn as Garrett (Key & Peele)
Nichole Sakura as Cheyenne (Shameless)
Mark McKinney as Glenn (The Kids in the Hall)
Kaliko Kauahi as Sandra (Raven’s Home)
I cannot sing enough praise about the cast and the many reoccurring stars that pop up. Everyone is a bit of a character, and it really works. Lauren Ash steals almost every scene she is in and as the series progresses Sandra goes from background character to one of the true stars.
The jokes come fast and utilize the different personalities of the cast well. Cheyenne makes dumb comments, Mateo’s a snob, Glenn is clueless, Jonah is a try hard, Garrett is a smartass, etc. The writes do a wonderful job of highlighting the strengths and weakness of both the actors and their characters to make a truly magical show.
Bo portrayed by Johnny Pemberton (21 Jump Street) is a prime example of how well utilized the characters are. Bo is obnoxious and great in small doses. The writers realized this, so they spread Bo’s appearances out to just one or two a season, which makes his appearances memorable and welcomed. I wish more shows would learn from this.
What makes Superstore work so well for me is the relatability. Anyone whose worked retail can relate to the topics presented on the show. There are scenes straight from my life on that show. In the final season, after a rough day everyone takes turns using a bat on a stupid prize wheel corporate had sent out. I remember a similar situation occurred while working at the movie theater, where we destroyed a ton of standees with bats and throwing them off the roof. It was harmless and a nice way to bond and blow off some steam.
The doubletalk by the corporate office about “listening to the employees” and “being a family” is openly mocked in the show, just as it is in real life. Not too many people are gullible enough to buy into that corporate views you as a family member, not when they are ready to cut you lose if there’s a chance the stock price will jump or if you need an extra day off.
The show does a great job at highlighting the problem with the current corporate/retail structure, but also shows the good that sometimes comes out of these situations, which mainly is the connection you make with others while working a terrible job. The people next to you are the ones you vent to and relate with, and while you all may be lingering in misery, you can form some great friendships in such an environment. I got to admit, it made me miss working retail some. Of course, I’m looking back on my time in retail with rose colored glasses.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched an assortment of 2010s sitcoms and most of them run out of steam by the final season or two. It can even be difficult just to finish watching those series, but Superstore isn’t like that. Despite losing a major cast member and dealing with the pandemic while filming and as a storyline, Superstore never dips in quality and the show is consistent until the end. Also, unlike a lot of sitcoms, it really nailed the ending and the only thing I could think was “Man, I wish there was more.”
Justin Spitzer, creator and producer of Superstore, went on to create American Auto, while not as good as Superstore, it’s still a very funny and enjoyable workplace comedy. It also features lots of cameos from various Superstore cast members. Sadly, it was recently canceled after it’s second season.
I wasn’t thrilled with the pilot of Superstore, and it took a few episodes to really hook me, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Superstore is a hilarious show that just really hits all the right humor spots for me.