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TV Series Review: Superstore

IMDb: Superstore (2015-2021)
Creator: Justin Spitzer
Starring: America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Mark McKinney, Nichole Sakura

Synopsis: A look at the lives of employees at a big box store

If anyone knows me, then they know that my go-to TV genre is sit-coms. There is nothing better than a 20-minute sit down to have some laughs and not feel overwhelmed with crossing narratives and hour-long runtimes. There is also something in particular about an NBC sit-com that I just love, from the fact that NBC picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine to the entirety of The Good Place. As soon as I saw that Superstore was on Netflix and was an NBC sit-com, I knew I had to sit down and watch it.

Firstly, I want to highlight what a great concept this is for a sit-com. The idea of having a sit-com for a specific location is not new, having been done for the likes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Office, but the opportunities within a large supermarket are brilliant for the format. From the workers themselves, the customers, the check-outs, food court, speaker systems, pop-up stalls and so much more, this show makes use of every aspect it can to have fun with the subject matter and bring Cloud 9 to life.

I was already aware of lead actress America Ferrera for a while, after loving Ugly Betty when I was younger. However, I was able to fall in love with her again in the role of Amy, a floor supervisor who is just trying to earn money to provide for her family and keep the workplace safe. The show starts with an introduction to a new worker, Jonah, who is played by Ben Feldman. It is obvious where the narrative is going to go and the roles that he will fill in, but Feldman is incredibly charming and fits the awkward humour of Jonah perfectly.

Just as a supermarket needs a team of workers to get the job done, this store comes to life with the different personalities of the workers within it. There are a few major supporting characters who you grow to easily fall in love with, but the stand out for me is Mark McKinney as Store Manager Glenn. At first, it is easy to question why he is running the place and his credibility, but it doesn’t take long to connect with him and cheer him on, no matter how good or bad he is at his job.

This show overplays a lot of the situations within a supermarket to add to the humour, but it is incredibly effective as it plays on the situations we have either been in or can easily picture. The annoying customers who ask the weirdest of questions, the awkward conversations that happen at the check-outs, the many technical issues that arise with working at a place like a supermarket. These all occur and it lends itself to humour that we cannot help but laugh at, and feel the shame that we can relate to the situation.

Even with the humour that runs throughout, the show takes time to touch on workers rights and issues that directly impact supermarket workers. I am glad that the showrunners have used their platforms to speak about such issues as work unions, the hierarchy between executives and floor workers, and the ways that workers are treated for even asking about their rights and their pay. Even though it is a sit-com, it does a lot to reflect workers in our current time.

As each season continues, the storylines that develop really help flesh out a lot of the characters and there are some strong narratives that come into play. Characters such as Cheyenne, Dina and Sandra are all given full character development and it makes it easier to engage with their stories as we fully care about them by the end. The is one storyline involving Mateo that is a harsh reality for a sit-com, but works so well and is a necessary story to tell.

I will admit that the show can run into cliches and be predictable at times. There is the central will they/won’t they relationship, the stereotypes within the characters, the situations that are over-exaggerated for humour. However, this is to be expected of the genre and they aren’t distracting from the main focus of the story or simply how good the humour is in playing with these cliches. It may take a few episodes to get into the tone, but it is never overbearing or annoying.

The showrunners got to decide that this sixth season would be its final one, and it is always rewarding to see a show get to end exactly as it plans. Like with The Good Place, it felt like the showrunners knew how they wanted the show to end and were able to do so in a way that felt conclusive and satisfying, creating a touching finale that could not have possibly ended better.

This final season also gave the show a bit of a boost for content when having to handle the pandemic, something that actually lends itself perfectly with the premise of the show. If there was one place that got the bulk of the weight during the pandemic, it was a supermarket and the show touches on all of the major moments. I don’t think there will be another show or film that accurately handles the pandemic and this moment of time again, and I am glad they used their platform again to show the mistreatment of staff during this time and the work they put in to keep everyone safe.

I entered the Cloud 9 store of Superstore in early February looking for some light entertainment, and I ended up watching all six seasons in less than two months. This is such an easy watch, and yet one that does feel important for the messages it does share within it. Whilst I am sad I will never get another episode with these characters, I am glad I got six seasons and a beautiful conclusion with them.

Superstore seasons 1-5 are available to watch in the UK on Netflix. Season 6 has just finished in the US.

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