The Daily Stream: Superstore Blends Romance, Bold Class Commentary, And Wacky Workplace Humor

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "Superstore"

Where You Can Stream It: Peacock

The Pitch: The elevator pitch for NBC's sitcom "Superstore" is simple: at a Walmart-like big box store in Missouri, a group of employees work, squabble, dream, goof off, fall in love, and fight for their rights. But across its six seasons, the series made by Justin Spitzer never stopped getting funnier, or more romantic, or bolder in its portrayal of the class struggle in America. By the time it bowed out gracefully last year, "Superstore" had become one of the best workplace sitcoms of the 21st century so far, despite never entering the zeitgeist as fully as comparable favorites like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation."

Along the way, "Superstore" assembled a stellar core cast of vibrant and ridiculous coworkers whose only common ground is their employment at a Cloud 9 store. Among them are teen mom Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura), undocumented immigrant Matteo (Nico Santos), goofy Christian manager Glenn (Mark McKinney), tough assistant manager Dina (Lauren Ash), and sarcastic slacker Garret (Colton Dunn). There are also the show's two ostensible leads: hard-working single mom Amy (America Ferrera) and progressive, hipster business school dropout Jonah (Ben Feldman). Like many great sitcoms, much of "Superstore" is about the two co-leads' excellent chemistry, but it also succeeds by remaining as much a comedy — and a piece of valuable class commentary — as a romance.

Why it's essential viewing

At its heart, "Superstore" is about the absurdities of late capitalism, the nonsensical world of retail, and the real people trying to get by in the middle of it all. This manifests in hilarious ways, such as transitional scenes that show customers doing things like shoveling bulk foods straight into their open mouths, or in a screamingly funny sequence in which the team tries to distract customers from a news bulletin revealing that the Cloud 9 mascot is a serial killer.

But it also shows up in other moments that outright criticize the soullessness of the mega-corporations that inspire the series. "Superstore" is at times radically anti-capitalist for a network sitcom — or for any sitcom, for that matter. A nuanced, funny, and heartbreaking seasons-long plot sees Jonah attempting to unionize the employees of Cloud 9. Every time an employee so much as whispers the "u" word, it unlocks a series of complex and dramatic reactions from corporate headquarters meant to neutralize the threat of workers getting what they're due. Again and again, "Superstore" drives home its point with plots that tell us that companies will only ever care about their bottom line, so it's up to people to actually care about each other.

It's a testament to the series' writing that it's able to broach these topics while still maintaining a wild comedic streak that carries the Cloud 9 crew through tornadoes, COVID-19, and beyond. While Feldman and Ferrera play characters with a dynamic sexual tension that makes their too-long will-they-won't-they arc bearable, actors like Dunn, Sakura, and McKinney sustain a brand of comedy that's unique to each of their wacky, indelible characters. Plus, "Superstore" goes out on a resounding high note with a series finale that gives all its character a satisfying, well-deserved ending.