The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: One Last Moment of Beauty on Superstore

“You know, most jobs suck 99 percent of the time, so you really … You really gotta enjoy those moments that don’t. Those bits of fun you have during downtime. Or an interesting conversation with a coworker. Or something happens that you can laugh about later. Or you do something that you’re actually proud of. If you’re lucky, maybe you even get to be friends with a coworker or two along the way. Not sure what else you could want at a job…”

Series finales are tricky things to get right, but for me as a viewer, the most important thing is always that the show honors the journey it’s been on—not just with its characters but also with its fans. The relationship between TV fans and the minds behind the shows they flock to is always a tenuous one, but a series finale represents one last chance to leave a fanbase feeling satisfied, respected, and like their emotional investment was all worth it in the end.

Some TV shows (looking at you, Game of Thrones) run away from that idea in the end—choosing shock and subverted expectations instead of satisfying storytelling. And I’ll admit it—maybe I’m still dealing with a bit of fangirl PTSD from that finale because I was nervous going into the Superstore series finale on Thursday night. I hadn’t loved this last season like I’d hoped I would. I didn’t think they handled America Ferrera’s exit in a satisfying way. And I was afraid that this finale would be similarly ambiguous or bittersweet rather than the kind of warm, hopeful happiness I need in my series finales right now.

I have never been happier to be wrong.

Every bit of that last hour was a love letter to these characters, their relationships with each other, and the fans who’ve loved spending time at Cloud 9 over the years. It was one last chance to watch Sandra be a badass, to see Glenn take care of Mateo (and make me cry in the process), to have Jonah voice the frustrations of so many Americans working at jobs like the ones these characters have, to have Dina make me laugh (her “because I’m a racist” line had me in tears from laughing so hard), and to have Jonah and Amy find their way back to each other with humor, heart, and some help from The Americans.

And in the end, this finale also provided one last chance for us all to think about what it means to be a part of a workplace family. Because yes, sometimes companies say their employees are a family when they want people to have no lives outside of work. But sometimes workplace families form all on their own—through common enemies, small victories (and sometimes big ones), inside jokes, and years of sharing both the memorable and the mundane with the same group of people.

That’s what Garrett’s final monologue was all about. It wasn’t some glorification of work. That’s not what Superstore has ever been about. No, it was an honest admission of the fact that work is usually terrible. But then, every so often, it’s not. Every so often, you get what this show memorably called a moment of beauty.

And it’s all because of the people in the trenches with you.

Those final words of hope and love from the show’s resident not-so-cynical cynic mixed with a montage of the characters making their own joy over the years were the perfect send-off for a show that was never going to lie to its audience and pretend like jobs are easy and fun all the time but was also never going to be nihilistic and imply that work always sucks your soul dry while giving you nothing in return.

Sometimes it can feel that way. But sometimes it gives you a group of people—or even just one person—who make it worth it. Work friends are their own special breed of friends, and the way this show honored that kind of friendship until the very end felt like a beacon of hope in a world where many people have lost those connections to their chosen work family—either through furloughs or layoffs or the distance of working at home. Watching these people remain in each other’s lives felt like the reminder I needed to believe that friendship can last long after the thing that brought you together ends.

For years, we’ve watched these characters struggle together, so it felt right that we got one final glimpse of them helping each other succeed after Cloud 9 closed its doors. We got to see Glenn giving Cheyenne and Mateo a supportive work environment while honoring his dad’s legacy. We got to see Dina genuinely having fun with Sandra and the rest of her team at the fulfillment center. We got to see Amy and Jonah being a power couple—with her as a corporate boss and him doing exactly what he should have always been doing and running for local government. And finally, we got to see this entire group of quirky, flawed, funny, and fantastic characters enjoying each other’s company far into the future—proof that the jobs may change, but the genuine friendships don’t have to.

Superstore has always been a show that balances reality and romanticism—not just in terms of “shipping” but in terms of hope. It’s a show that acknowledges that work (and life) is often going to suck, but often isn’t always. There are still those moments of beauty.

Which brings me to the stars.

When Jonah and Amy went to turn the lights off in their kids’ bedroom, I yelled, “Oh my God, there are going to be stars!” from my couch. And that feeling—of knowing what the show is going to do one second before it happens and being so happy about it you could cry—are what great series finales are all about. It was a moment that honored the journey, and what a beautiful journey it was.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s