By Valerie Milano
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/24/19 – Superstore has been widely hailed as a modern comedy done the way it should be. Each episode, the staff of Cloud 9 do their utmost to make their customers happy, while dealing with hot button issues like immigration, worker’s rights, gender equality, and human rights. If it seems like a lot for a sitcom to tackle, it is. Rarely does a sitcom do so with such deft clarity and humor. Superstore returns to NBC March 7th at 8 PM.
At a TCA panel, executive producer Justin Spitzer, Ben Feldman, America Ferrera, Mark McKinney, Colton Dunn, Lauren Ash, Nico Santos, and Nichole Bloom sat down to discuss the series.
Now in its 4th season, the show seems to continue to improve upon itself. “We’re continuing doing the best show we can,” said Spitzer. “I’m very proud of the show, and I think I’m hoping that some people are discovering it more and getting more excited about it.”
Ferrera, known for her activism, said that she thinks people are looking to explore current issues through the show, in a way they can grasp. “I think more and more people are looking for conversations that feel in any way honest and authentic and sane about what’s happening in the world around us,” she said. “And I think Justin and the rest of our writers so masterfully are able to address those things without it feeling like they’re picking a side or saying who’s wrong or who’s right.”
Ferrera added that fans feel the show is a great example of how these discussions should be handled. “I think one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard anyone say about our show is that it’s the type of world they want to live in, a world where people can be so different from each other and believe such different things and treat each other with decency. And I think that’s something that we’re not seeing a lot of in our society and it’s something that you can find on our show. So, we make you laugh. But, as one person put it, it restores your faith in humanity.”
A sitcom that does more than just entertain—it restores faith in humanity. Superstore does it, and does it well; without ever shying away from, or dismissing, difficult topics. “It would almost feel disingenuous not to address things…it wouldn’t be a real, realistic depiction of a workplace.”
Further, the show has the uncanny and extraordinary ability to predict events, a la “The Simpsons”. “There’s also a phenomenon where stuff will happen on the show and then it will happen in real life,” said Ash. “Like, we had somebody die getting trapped in the walls, peeping in the women’s bathroom, and then that happened two weeks after it aired. They found that exact thing happened in real life.”
All of this boldness has paid off, as both ratings and reviews have consistently risen. The show’s stars now have different lives as a result. “I will say, as the show has become more visible, as obviously our online scores have shown, there’s lots of people watching and the visibility has become bigger and bigger,” added Ash. “And so now it’s like I can’t really shop at the store without, like, you know, getting chased, which is weird but cool. But, yeah, you have to change it up. You can’t go to the same Ralph’s twice.”
“I think that you know, what’s happened with our show, I think, like all good comedies, you find yourself and people find you,” said Ferrera. “And what we are now in Season 4, yes, we’ve been doing the same work and storytelling for four years, but it’s been refined: the acting, the characters, the writing, the way we tackle issues.”
Ferrera said since 40% of the viewership is now online and people watch television differently, it’s a completely different experience. Viewers can now watch 60 episodes at a time, as opposed to waiting each week for a new episode. “And so I think it’s about the show finding itself more and more and more every single season and then people catching up, because the landscape for television is so massive and saturated that, you know, you can know of a show that people like and is enjoyable, that you don’t plan to get around to ‘til, you know, you’re done with five shows before it,” she said. “So, I think the awareness of what the show is and what the show is doing now in Season 4 is catching on because of how the landscape of television has shifted and changed.”
Regardless of how any given viewer approaches their own viewing experience, Superstore is simply good. It handles issues with heart and compassion, without sidestepping the stuff that just has to be dealt with—and without sacrificing comedic force. We look forward to more of the same. Don’t miss this remarkable sitcom’s return to the airwaves.
Superstore premieres Thursday, March 7th at 8 PM on NBC. Learn more at https://www.nbc.com/superstore