Hit or Sh**: NBC’s SUPERSTORE
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
It’s no secret; we’ve all been hurt by network television before and we’ll all be hurt by network television again. In the copiously-mentioned age of prestige television and instant streaming services that like to tout their content as such, it can be increasingly difficult to turn to the good old-fashioned boob tube for bona fide entertainment pursuits. However, especially in terms of comedy, NBC has struck gold in the past with beloved favorites such as THE OFFICE and PARKS AND RECREATION. Considering the fact that “The Office” is actually the first two words the layman will see when googling SUPERSTORE, it’s no secret that Justin Spritzer’s latest creation has a bit of an inferiority complex and tries really, really hard to fill the shoes of its much more famous cousin. That being said, due to its generally charming premise and consistent moments of stellar comedy, there is enough promise to keep viewer attention engaged enough to overlook some of the pilot’s more obvious pitfalls.
I’ve got your number, Mateo
Those more obvious pitfalls almost exclusively revolve around the hackneyed and tired scenes between Jonah and Amy. Jonah, despite being an ostensible main protagonist, is a Frankenstein’s monster (notice that I correctly refrained from referring to him as Frankenstein, nerds) of recyclable and generic dreck, falling head-over-heels for Amy the first time he lays eyes on her and treating us to a deplorable waltz of overt “nice guy” romanticism. The AMERICAN BEAUTY reference he employs is gag-worthy, and his insistence on showing Amy a “moment of beauty” feels like it’s ripped straight out of a young adult novel.
That being said, no scene between Jonah and Amy is nearly as terrible as one featuring Mateo. Yet another botched diversity inclusion by a network executive, Mateo is gayer than the Yuletide and infinitely less merry. Existing entirely to genuflect his way through constant critiques of Jonah’s performance, the already cringe-worthy character is far from remedied by his sheer unlikeability.
By all means, THIS should be the least subtle and restrained aspect of the pilot
Vitriolic, I know, but the rest of the pilot more-or-less makes up for its missteps. This is due in large part to the fact that the writers have actually crafted honest-to-goodness comedy with large portions of their characters and jokes. Garrett’s announcement of closing time turns into a humorous lost child announcement, Lauren Ash’s best Melissa McCarthy impression as Dina turns in regular chuckles, and it’s almost impossible to frown each time mild-mannered store manager Glenn opens his mouth (especially the scene wherein he and Dina are talking religion).
More cheap and obvious guffaws (though still inspiring mirth) can be found in the brief cutaways to the activities of various shoppers around the store and the unexpected nature of Bo’s proposal to Cheyenne. In addition, although the narrative elements are generally less engaging than the short-form jokes, the structure of the pilot at least manages to discern comparatively creative ways to tie together the main storyline (Jonah’s first day at work) and the subplot (Bo’s impending proposal to Cheyenne).
Admittedly, the character herself leaves something to be desired
Yes, SUPERSTORE features some low-hanging fruit in terms of its characterizations (the obvious “redneck” nature of Bo and Cheyenne, the aforementioned Mateo, Dina’s futile pursuit of Jonah), and yes, it’s shoehorning of a sobering take on minimum-wage lifestyles is rather incongruous, but the show still gets its feet out of the modern mire of “comedies” that are really more accurately described as simply “not dramas.”
I’ll be the first to admit that SUPERSTORE is going to have to make notable strides on the Amy and Jonah characters before it has any chance of being remembered in the slightest and tune up some of its more obvious attempts at tickling the funny bones, but gosh darn it, I laughed. And that’s more than can be said for a large majority of network comedies.
Verdict: Sh** Probation
SUPERSTORE airs on Mondays on NBC