There’s much to love about the America Ferrara starring vehicle Superstore as I discovered while binge watching the first season these past few weeks. From the lovable, screwball comedy antics the cast of characters get into, or the uniformly strong ensemble and then the effortless diversity of said ensemble, to the series bringing back the notion of the blue collar workplace sitcom that hasn’t been seen on air in years, Superstore is a refreshing half-hour series. Amy, Jonah (Ben Feldman) and co., are all mainly working at a job that they tolerate, that under-appreciates them and which many turn their noses down on and the show does its best work when its exploiting that sensibility while also painting these characters as more than two dimensional archetypes.
Season one ended on a cliffhanger after Glenn (Mark Mckinny) was let go due to finding a loophole and suspending Cheyenne (Nicole Bloom) with pay after going into labor at Cloud 9. Outraged at the corporations lack of compassion, Amy and Jonah lead a walk out on the store with Dina (Lauren Ash) assuring them that the store will be fine without them.
As the season two premiere reinforces, this is kind of true, unfortunately. Despite the higher ups placating the team by saying they don’t want anyone to loose their jobs, to them Amy and the rest of the staff are mindless workers in blue. What starts out as a simple walkout to draw attention and reinstate Glenn ends up being a larger protest where anyone and everyone from the area come to protest anything they’re fed up about, casting a negative glow on the whole proceedings. Glenn gets his job back, sure, but they must apologize for the display and share ground with those who wish to ban transgender women from using the women’s bathroom.
What “Strike” does remarkably well is build both on what we know of these characters already for people returning for the second season but also defining everyone’s characteristics so that if anyone was tuning in for the first time they’d get a good idea on who these people were and why we should care about them. Everything from Mateo’s (Nico Santos) obsession with being the perfect employee, to Amy and Jonah’s give and take on how best to handle the situation and Glenn’s inability to not be a nice person when he see’s someone who needs help carrying their groceries are perfect examples of what we’ve come to know about this cast. The push pull between all of them, such as Glenn and Dina and of course Jonah and Amy give a parallelism to the series which allows to to bring humor out of interactions simply based on their differences. Jonah and Amy both look to be good people who make the “right” choices bit
It’s a joke heavy show, especially with the visual comedy the embrace each episode and much of the humor is derivative of those character idiosyncrasies. The season premiere gains a lot of laughs out of Dina’s failures of scaring away the protesters with a hose and then shows itself as a hidden gem of progressive narratives by making transphobia the butt of the joke.
But the real power of the series lies in it’s heart and compassion for each character. The humor comes from the people the employees work with and the natural hilarity that ensues in retail (all the cut away scenes to what odd things customers are getting into when they think no one is watching are all gold). The show takes great pains to never paint Amy, Jonah and the rest as laughable because of where they work, but what happens while they’re working, an important distinction considering so many of the singular plot threads involve the same people who are feeling stuck in life. Never taking an obvious route, Superstore finds its strongest footing when it demonstrates the bonds these people share despite their varying backgrounds and how they come together to face a challenge head on.
Episode two of season two airs tonight, make sure to tune in and support one of the funniest work place comedies currently on air.