In March of 2021, underrated sitcom gem Superstore aired its final episode. Overshadowed by a continued pandemic, news of the vaccine and the Oprah-Harry-Meghan bombshell, the end of Superstore may not have been missed widely, but it was definitely missed deeply.
Debuting on NBC in 2016, Superstore has consistently pushed the envelope for sitcom storytelling while remaining firmly planted in its comedic roots. The show was created by The Office writer Justin Spitzer, and the similarities are recognizable but not overwhelming. Set in Cloud 9 – a big box store akin to the likes of Walmart – Superstore follows the lives of its ensemble cast of zany characters.
Although the premise of the workplace comedy seems simple enough, it soon became clear that Superstore meant to tread much further than The Office, or Parks and Recreation, and arguably even Brooklyn Nine Nine in terms of addressing the harsh realities that people faced everyday in 2010s America. Among other issues, the show dealt with difficult situations like undocumented immigrants, maternity leave, healthcare, post-Trump America, Black Lives Matter, and most recently, gave audiences one of the most realistic portrayals of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are no white collar employees whiling away their monotony by hiding staplers in jello. These are tired, blue collar workers who just want to go home after their shift but have to clean up a spill on Aisle 17 instead. They get minimum pay, they are not allowed to unionize, and someone keeps leaving severed feet in the store. Despite addressing these hard hitting actualities, the show rarely comes off as preachy or heavy handed. True to real life, Superstore lets the problems percolate throughout the episode instead of reserving a grand monologue towards the end.
Superstore's huge ensemble cast is what really pushes it from 'great' to 'must-watch.' Leading the pack is a brilliant America Ferrara (Ugly Betty, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) as Amy Sosa, the cynical floor manager who took the job as a pregnant teenager and ended up staying an extra ten years. Balancing her out is the preppy business school dropout Jonah Simms (Ben Feldman), who is the Jim in this will-they-won't-they pairing.
The 'weird but loving boss' role is filled by the uber-religious Glenn (Mark McKinney), with a staunchly by-the-book, bird loving Dina (Lauren Ash) as his Assistant Manager. Deadpan announcer Garrett (Colton Dunn), airhead teen mom Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura) and snarky, ambitious new hire Mateo (Nico Santos) round out the central cast, although several semi-regular characters are increasingly hilarious as well. Although these characters begin as ones that can be described in one phrase, they evolve – as with any well written show – into rounded individuals with hopes, dreams and failures of their own. Warehouse worker and ex-con Marcus (Jon Barinholtz) is an example of how a dim side character with funny lines grew to be one of the funniest characters on air. The show also maintains an impressive commitment to running gags – be it wacky interstitials of customers existing on one brain cell, or the hilarious long running feud between two of its secondary characters.
Ultimately, Superstore never fully received the love that it deserved through its six season run. It had no Emmy nominations, no Golden Globe campaigns, no viral meme moments. Indeed, no season renewal was taken for granted. However, regardless of its popularity, the show will remain one of the most realistic, hilarious, and fearless workplace sitcoms created. Take a bow, Superstore.
Superstore comes to Netflix India on 20th September.