“Superstore” debuted on NBC to little fanfare as a holiday hiatus filler program, airing nine of its 11 Season 1 episodes between Dec. 28, 2015 and Feb. 22, 2016, after a sneak peek premiere launch on Nov. 30.
But its ratings were good enough to bring it back for a second season, which launches on Sept. 22. If you need a little taste of why it’s so good, tune in to Friday’s (Aug. 19) special Olympics-themed episode to see if you like it — it’s a stand-alone episode, so you don’t need to have seen Season 1 to enjoy it.
RELATED: ‘Superstore’ is NBC’s latest in a string of home runs
But if the athlete stunt casting turns you off, don’t give up on “Superstore.” Here are three reasons why this is Zap2it’s new favorite workplace comedy.
Justin Spitzer is “Superstore’s” showrunner, after working as a writer for “The Office” for seven years. Other executive producers include David Bernad (“Enlightened”), Jonathan Green (“The Cleveland Show”) and Gabe Miller (“The Late Show with David Letterman”). Additionally, star America Ferrera is also a producer and headlines a terrific cast of characters who work at a big box store called Cloud 9.
The gist: If you liked “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” you’ll like “Superstore.”
Ferrera and Ben Feldman (“Mad Men,” “Silicon Valley”) are Amy and Jonah, the ostensible “leads” of the show, but they are supported by a talented and varied cast, including Mark McKinney (“Kids in the Hall”) as the store manager and breakout star Lauren Ash as Dina, the Dwight Schrute of Cloud 9. It’s a true ensemble comedy, focusing on different characters and pairings each episode.
In addition to the main ensemble, the show also inserts these interstitials to transition between scenes, where you get a peek into what random customers are doing in the store. For anyone who has worked in retail, these are a frighteningly hilarious flashbacks — and Spitzer says some of them are based on real things he’s seen in big box stores.
The head and the heart
While there are plenty of laughs on “Superstore,” there are also characters you care about — like the undeniable chemistry between Ferrera and Feldman that complicates their working relationship, which is further complicated by the fact that Amy is married. It’s a storyline that will fill the “Jim and Pam”-sized hole in your heart.
But the show isn’t all about the “awws.” It also deals with some serious social issues in the most hilarious of ways. “Superstore” is set at what is essentially a Walmart, which means a lot of the customers and employees are not wealthy people — so classism and making ends meet constantly comes into play.
The show also touches on racial issues, like asking the Latina employee to be the one giving out salsa samples, and sexual identity/religion issues, with the religious store manager trying so hard to make gay couples feel welcome in the wedding section of the store.
The best comedy has something to say and “Superstore” does it without becoming preachy or giving off the “very special episode” vibe, while still making the comedy come first.
Season 1 is available for free on NBC.com, but you can also find it on Hulu and Amazon.
The special Olympics episode airs Friday, Aug. 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT and Season 2 premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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