Oh man, this show gave me a couple shivers. My time in retail wasn’t exactly this experience, as I spent my time working in a Blockbuster as opposed to a Walmart, but some of the situations on this show gave me Nam-style flashbacks.
I admit that I dismissed this show when it first joined the NBC fall schedule. It looked like it aimed pretty low with its humor and probably wouldn’t stand out much. And while I was right to a certain extent, the show did surprise me occasionally and kept me coming back for more. Plus, Colton Dunn’s in it playing Garrett, and that dude, oh man, just his facial expressions get me.
The show revolves around the workers in a Walmart-esque store named Cloud 9. It follows them in their day-to-day highs and lows, from dealing with customers to unloading product to fighting corporate. The main cast is an ensemble of different archetypes, none of which are exceptionally ground-breaking, but are endearing, for the most part. The show is kind of The Office without the mockumentary format.
It’s not a clone, per se, as the characters and tone are different enough to stand on their own (except Garrett, (nailed it)), but it’s not too far off. It’s a workplace comedy with charming characters working jobs they aren’t necessarily thrilled to be working. They have a somewhat inept boss who has a good heart, a second-in-command with delusions of grandeur, two attractive leads who have a little sexual tension but the female is unavailable, and so on. Not exactly The Office, but not far off.
But that’s not a bad thing. There are certainly worse shows to takes cues from. Superstore is definitely less cringey than The Office, and deals less with white-collar problems. In fact, that’s the one place where the show excels, examining blue-collar challenges, and I hope that they explore those situations more in the future. Fortunately, that does seem to be a direction that they are going to go in. The one thing that the characters all have in common is that working at Cloud 9 isn’t the best gig in the world, and often the company doesn’t seem to have their best interests in mind. A giant, faceless corporation fighting its own employees is not only great drama (which can elevate comedy), but incredibly timely, as more and more people are dealing with that exact situation these days.
Another thing I liked about the show is the secondary characters. Shows like The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, they all have worlds inhabited by colorful recurring characters aside from the main cast. This makes the show feel like it happens in a real (if a little surreal) place, with people who leads lives all their own. Superstore is able to accomplish this, with characters like Sandra the meek worker, Sal the creepy guy, and Tate the maniacal pharmacist. The store feels alive, and the show is better for it.
I am hoping, however, that they don’t push the two leads’s sexual tension too much. Not every show needs a Ross/Rachel/Jim/Pam/Sam/Diane/will they/won’t they relationship. We need more Liz/Jack relationships, as there are tons of real life male-female friendships that could be reflected on television. Not that they aren’t cute together, but I mean, Jonah’s way too douchey for Amy. And she’s married with a kid, besides. I want her and Adam, her husband, to make it, but maybe that’s just me. More adult relationships on TV!
As I said before, the show’s humor isn’t spectacular, and it’s not something special, but I am comfortable in adding a “yet” on the end of both of those statements. The humor’s not spectacular yet, and the show is not something special yet, but it has potential to improve and achieve greatness. I saw glimmers of that greatness in the first season, and I’m glad that it’s getting a second one. After all, it brings me more Colton Dunn, which I can get behind.
So check out Superstore, it’s finding it’s footing (except for Garrett (nailed it)).