Summer of 2016, I–like a lot of folks, perhaps–followed the twitter account of Owen Ellickson, a TV writer/producer. He’s the guy who did the hilarious imagined Trump internal dialogues that were one of the few nice things about that whole disaster.
Anyway, I noticed on his twitter bio that he was part of some show called “Superstore”. I figured I’d check it out. Eventually.
Been working a lot on my weekends just crunching out numbers and needed something playing while I did that busywork and finally remembered that show. Turns out Ellickson only produced a handful of episodes. The creator is a guy named Justin Spitzer, who was brought in as a creative hand to help write/produce some of the final seasons of The Office.
So anyway, Superstore. First, it’s set in St. Louis, so already I’m kinda rooting for a show that namechecks Richmond Heights and Kirkwood. But it’s also got a really good cast. And although the show starts off being so inconsequential and predictable that it shouldn’t work, the characters themselves become so likeable that as the writing improves through the first season, this thing starts to work a little magic.
It’s a sitcom. It isn’t Parks & Rec level, or even The Good Place. But it kind of knows that and there really are some very good moments that push this above a lot of stuff in this genre. I guess I’d say I’m liking this show more than Brooklyn Nine-nine, for instance.
The cast, like I mentioned, is great. I’ll watch America Ferrera in anything, and here she’s given a character that she eventually turns from a caricature into three dimensions. Colton Dunn is simply amazing (he’s one of the Animal Control guys in Parks, and a featured writer/performer from Key & Peele) in this. He’s a guy who’s deserved a big role in a series, and here he gets his chance and knocks it out of the park. Kids in the Hall standby Mark McKinney kind of grows on you as the manager and his character gets better and better, too. And to me, the real unsung actor on this show is Nichole Bloom – who is stunningly beautiful and could be a model – but happily shows off real acting chops and dimensions as a dumb kid who has some depth to her…and isn’t afraid to do the “I Love Lucy” pratfalls and make fun of herself.
I guess I also love the little moments in this show. It quietly creates this view of what a crap job it is to be a minimum wage worker in the 21st century in the US. I mean, yes, they do a whole episode arc on that at the end of season one, but even before that there’s stuff like America Ferrera’s character having to bring her daughter to work because she couldn’t find daycare, or how nothing is free or unpaid and workers are fodder more than assets. It doesn’t preach that stuff (too much) but it’s always present here…and anyone who’s ever worked retail will recognize that this writing team did their fair share of restocking and cleaning aisles.
It seems like a show worth sticking out through the first awkward episodes to see if it fits. If you get through the All Nighter episode in season one and you’re unmoved, this show probably isn’t your thing.