(obviously I wasn’t going to come up with a better title than that, and Glenn would approve)
So my primary watching this winter was a sitcom that has been relegated to the second tier, below contemporary giants like Parks and Recreation, Community, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the last of which also features a principal named Amy. Much the way 30 Rock, in terms of cultural celebration, has played second fiddle to its primetime buddy The Office. (The American one, of course.) And while Superstore doesn’t measure up to 30 Rock—almost nothing can—it truly deserves more widespread appreciation.
It’s the story of a Woke White Guy who bails on business school and ends up working at a big-box store in St. Louis, joining an ensemble of such richly realized characters I felt like I personally knew them by the middle of the first season. By the end, I had trouble naming a single favorite. Garrett? Dina? Cheyenne? Very possibly Cheyenne tbh.
Its setting being a retail establishment in middle America, the show touches on themes of labor organizing and workers’ rights, open-carry policies, racism and classism, and tornadoes. Roughly in that order.
I won’t go into great detail about the relationships and subplots that develop along the way, or even recommend any particular episode—the final season was shot during the pandemic’s early stages, and so acknowledges it in a way few shows can do successfully—but I will say this: This show knows, better than some of its peers, how to stick the landing of a joke. The scenes cut away at just the right moments, allowing the humor to hit and then juxtaposing it with something totally different. I am in fact looking at Brooklyn Nine-Nine when I accuse some comedies of dragging out a punchline even a beat too long, and that beat can make a big difference. Superstore has a handle on it. Maybe it’s for this reason that the series just flies by and leaves you wanting more.
On the off chance you don’t believe me, here’s a survey. Then, because you’ll be curious, I hereby direct you to Netflix.
Image: a typical episode-opening staff meeting
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