After six seasons, the charming workplace comedy about employees working in a big box store has come to a close. Ending its final chapter in the midst of the coronavirus, Superstore tackled the hardships of this pandemic, especially on the lives of retail workers, better than any other show currently on the air. While the pandemic became a part of everyday life for these employees, it remained a background character as season six continued to air and as life continued for all. Masks, social distancing signs, these things were a reminder of the world outside without becoming a central part of the show.
Over the course of six seasons Superstore continued to improve both in its comedic moments and how it approached issues affecting the country. As the workplace comedy to follow on the heels of giants like The Office and Parks and Recreation, Superstore was able to stand on its own two feet thanks in large part to an ensemble cast of characters all equally interesting and funny in their own right, with a growing cast of supporting characters that added to the show’s charisma. Amy (America Ferrera), Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura), Garrett (Colton Dunn), Mateo (Nico Santos), and Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi) didn’t just check off diversity boxes. Their race and ethnicities were very much a part of their identities without ever becoming a trope for the show to lean on. These characters were able to talk about these issues because of how they affected their own lives. The show always made a point to talk about things happening in the world through conversations between coworkers, in a way that felt more real and authentic.
Immigration became an ongoing conversation throughout the show as the season two episode titled “Olympics” revealed Mateo’s undocumented status, Mateo becoming the first series regular on a network TV show to be undocumented. Superstore writers worked with the nonprofit immigration advocacy group Define American to make Mateo’s storyline authentic. While his undocumented status and the very real threat of deportation came to head in the season four finale, Mateo was always allowed to be a full human being, neither tragic nor perfect.
The second episode of season three titled “Brett’s Dead,” featured a storyline where Jonah (Ben Feldman) tries to figure out how Garrett (Dunn) ended up in his wheelchair. By the end of the episode, neither Jonah nor the audience gets an answer because it really doesn’t matter. Being in a wheelchair is just one part of who Garrett is and limiting him to that part of his identity is something the show never does. Garrett explains it best when he tells Jonah, “Whatever it is, it’s just gonna put me in a box and I don’t want that.”
Until the very end, Superstore balanced the line between addressing the inequalities in a workplace like Cloud 9, while still laughing about the shenanigans the characters get themselves in. Working for a giant corporation where the employees struggled with low wages, lack of maternity leave, and many failed attempts at unionization were always a part of the story. With the final episode seeing the store close and the majority of the workers losing their jobs, Superstore was able to manage telling a story that always felt real while maintaining a sense of hope—hope that things can change, that ordinary people have just as much value and stories worth telling. The common thread from the pilot until the series finale was always clear. Small, seemingly ordinary moments with the people we care about are what make life worth living. A message that means more today than ever before, Superstore will always be a show worthy of the love it gets.
Check out this wonderfully underrated gem of a show if you haven’t seen it before, you won’t regret it. All six seasons of Superstore are available to stream on Hulu.