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The fifth season of Superstore ended on a ciffhanger for viewers, but it was also an abrupt finale for the cast of the NBC sitcom. The group were in the middle of filming their penultimate episode when film and TV production stopped amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they shared during a San Diego Comic-Con@Home panel on Thursday afternoon.
“It was surreal,” said star Mark McKinney.
At the beginning of the final week of production, showrunners Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green said, their main worry was whether it would rain when they were filming crowd scenes for the season finale. But as the week continued and the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, it was obvious the episode wouldn’t film at all.
Green said that he and Miller were “down to the wire” figuring out the logistics of those crowd scenes, but “it became clear it wasn’t going to be possible to shoot anything for that final episode.”
Star Lauren Ash, who moderated the conversation between her castmates, said she didn’t realize how big a deal the coronavirus was at the time. “Now I can’t believe we shot so long,” she joked.
The events of that final week moved so fast that by the time star Ben Feldman filmed what would become his last scenes of the season with America Ferrera, who announced her departure from the sitcom in February, “we were constantly making sure that whatever we were shooting was a good enough ending.”
The actress announced earlier this year that she was leaving the series at the end of the fifth season, but her swan song was cut short after production was only able to complete the first half of the two-part season five finale.
“The last five years on Superstore have been some of the most rewarding, enriching and enjoyable years of my career,” she said in a statement announcing her departure. “Producing, directing and acting with this wonderful cast and crew has given me opportunities to grow as a person and storyteller.”
But with March’s production stoppage leading to a truncated season, “California Part 1” ended on a cliffhanger with Ferrera’s Amy deciding whether or not to take a corporate job in the Golden State. The actress is expected to return to bid her character a proper farewell in season six.
The Comic-Con@Home panel also featured Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Sakura, and Kaliko Kauahi, who reminisced about their favorite experiences at past Comic-Cons and favorite memories from filming the series.
While no one discussed logistics for season six, which was ordered by NBC back in February, Dunn joked that the thing he was most looking forward to in the upcoming season was “just starting. Starting to work. Leaving my house and going somewhere else to do something.”
In all seriousness, though, he hopes the show is able to provide comfort and entertainment for the frontline retail workers who have continued to provide essential services throughout the government-mandated stay-at-home orders over the past few months.
“So much has happened in the world,” he said, “and our show has always been a show that reflects what’s going on in the world and reflects what’s going on with people who are working in retail, … and I think those stories are even more important to tell right now.”
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