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The television comedy landscape has changed quite a bit over the past few years, and no other network has experimented as much as NBC. The network once best known for single-camera critical darlings like The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock has shifted in recent years to more multicam fare such as Undateable and The Carmichael Show.
However, this spring — with a preview event on Nov. 30 — the network will revisit familiar territory with launch of the new workplace comedy Superstore.
“It’s been an interesting world right now for NBC and I’m excited for people to see the network return to some degree to the shows that I used to love just six years ago,” star Ben Feldman, who most recently headlined the network’s short-lived romantic comedy A to Z, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It brings all sorts of demographics and types of people that can watch together.”
From longtime Office producer Justin Spitzer, the America Ferrera-led sitcom explores the daily lives of workers at a Wal-Mart type shopping center, Cloud 9. Between inventories and price checks, the ragtag team of sales associates are trying to figure out how to live paycheck to paycheck and find joy while avoiding the clean-up needed on aisle seven.
“There’s something really special about seeing the everyman story on television,” Ferrera says. “These days, we get a lot more aspirational characters on television and there was something really appealing about telling the everyman working class story again.”
In addition to being a change of course for NBC, Superstore‘s exploration of the middle class is also markedly different territory compared to Empire‘s wealthy and famous Lyon family and the powerful and well-dressed gladiators on Scandal.
“We have a lot of FBI agents, detectives, lawyers and people living really fabulous lives on network television,” Ferrera says. “This, to me, is a return to life as seen through the lens of the way most people in this country live — which is paycheck to paycheck doing jobs where the work itself doesn’t give you joy, but there’s still life to be lived.”
Adds the Emmy winner: “As funny as the show is, there’s something that runs underneath it about how the majority of the people in this country actually live.”
Like the Empires, Scandals and so many other series that have attempted to add diversity to primetime in recent years, Ferrera believes Superstore will also add an important voice to that trend.
“When you look at the poster for our show it stands out that it’s not an all-white cast. It’s not an all-black cast or an all-Asian cast, or all-Latino cast — not that there’s anything wrong with that way of approaching diversity,” Ferrera says. “I do think that there’s something unique about a show that integrates diversity without the show having to be about the black experience or being Latino or being Asian. This show is just about being American and being human. People just happen to be all different types of races and ethnicities.”
Ferrera’s co-star Ben Feldman goes one step further in describing the sitcom’s relevant appeal.
“I’m going to go ahead and compare it to Shakespeare in the sense that Shakespeare was designed to speak to the aristocracy and the groundlings at the exact same time. I think that’s what this show is, not to put down the groundlings in any way,” he says. “There’s a base every day, Joe the Plumber type of humor as well as the really intelligent, nerdy humor in there as well.”
Superstore premieres Monday, Nov. 30 at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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