‘Superstore’ Finale: Creator & Showrunners On “Satisfying” Endings Amid The Pandemic, Future Of Cloud 9 Family
SPOILER ALERT: This post includes details about the series finale of NBC’s Superstore.
Superstore gave fans one last bang for their buck before closing the doors to Cloud 9 for good. The NBC workplace comedy wrapped its six-season run with a two-part series finale, which saw a happy ending for Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman), and marked a brand new chapter for other members of the Cloud 9 family.
Creator Justin Spitzer, who stepped down as showrunner back in 2019, returned to co-write the emotional final episodes with executive producers Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller.
Part one of the series finale, “Perfect Store,” written by Owen Ellickson and Lauren McCreary, picks up from America Ferrera’s surprise appearance at the end of the “Lowell Anderson” episode, when Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura) calls up Amy Sosa to confirm rumors of a Cloud 9 closures due to the pandemic. Amy returns to St. Louis from California to help her work family get in tip-top shape for a corporate evaluation that decides the fate of the Cloud 9 Ozark Highlands branch. The episode closes with Amy revealing herself to the corporate analyst, who explains that the store wasn’t even in consideration to close, but will make the perfect fulfillment center. Upon learning that her Cloud 9 peers could lose their jobs, Amy quits hers as a Zephra executive.
A month later in “All Sales Final,” Amy returns to say one last goodbye to the oddballs of Cloud 9, but then helps clear out the shelves at Glenn’s (Mark McKinney) request. Now appointed manager to the Zephra fulfillment center, Dina (Lauren Ash) must choose which five employees to take under her wing. Meanwhile, Mateo (Nico Santos) must figure out his next steps to keep himself employed and away from deportation.
Amy learns that Jonah broke up with Hannah (Maria Thayer), the lawyer who represented Carol (Irene White) in her lawsuit against the superstore. She attempts to address the elephant in the aisles – their called-off engagement, only further straining their relationship.
In Cloud 9 fashion, the crew gathers in the electronics section with bowls of popcorn for a farewell celebration. They watch old reels of the crews’ job interviews, which Glenn reveals he secretly recorded “in case someone accused me of not hiring them unless they gave me sexual favors.” Inspired by the old tapes, Glenn says he’ll hire Mateo at Sturgis & Sons, the hardware store he’ll open to continue his father’s legacy.
Amy has a 10 Things I Hate About You moment as she confronts him to list all the different ways he has annoyed her, but changed her life for the better.
“I hated how cheesy you were, I hated how woke you were and I hated how often you’d use the word ‘artisan,’ but most of all I hated how you believed that life could be better than it was,” she said. “And yet here we are, and my life is so much better than it was because of you. And I know I screwed it all up”
Before she continues, Jonah comes in for a kiss: “Sorry, it’s just that you were talking so much.”
The series wraps up with an emotional speech from Garrett, who makes his final store announcement. His words of remembrance and celebration score a sequence that looks at Cloud 9’s brightest moments, and flashes forward to what’s next.
“Thank you for shopping with us, Cloud 9 is now closed.”
Deadline spoke separately with Spitzer, Green and Miller about finding happy endings for the show’s leads, series finale concepts that were left on the cutting room floor and how they envision the future for the Superstore characters – from landing a dream job at GameStop to running against Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. The interviews below have been edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: How did the current series finale match up with what you had initially planned from the beginning?
SPITZER: People would ask sometimes what I thought would happen at the end of the series and I never really had a great answer. I never knew even for sure that Jonah and Amy would wind up together. I knew I wanted it to be satisfying in some way, but depending on how we’d done things, Jonah and ex-girlfriend Kelly (Kelly Stables) could have ended up together. There’s a lot of ways people find happiness that aren’t necessarily getting married.
I always had in the back of my mind that this series would end with Amy finally leaving Cloud 9, but then that ended up happening at the end of season 5 anyway, so that was moot. The only other thing I always had in mind was bringing back my daughter who was in an interstitial in the pilot getting on the potty. I’d always said that whenever we wrapped up the series, I’d want her to be at whatever age she was on the potty in the finale.
DEADLINE: You probably didn’t envision a global pandemic back in the beginning. How did the final season’s coronavirus setting impact the finale?
GREEN: Before we knew it was going to be a series finale, we were working towards a season finale that had an element of the store becoming a fulfillment center. What would happen at the end of the season was that it becomes a hybrid store and fulfillment center, which is happening with a lot of places in real life. Half of the store is still open to customers and the other half is just a warehouse. So the end of the season that we were excited about was going to be a wall going up in the middle of the store, dividing our store into two and dividing our people into two camps. We were talking about Dina running the fulfillment part of the store while Glenn was the manager of the customer-facing store. We liked that that was a natural outgrowth of the two of them as co-managers and what their different strengths were. It just seemed like it would be an interesting set-up for a season 7 that we didn’t get to do.
MILLER: There were various options. The one thing that did feel right to us is that there would be a final push to fight corporate and stop this from happening, but they wouldn’t succeed. It felt right for everyone to try. But it also felt we like the show taking place as close to reality as we can and retail is moving in this direction. It might feel too easy or too much of a cheat if our particular store was saved from that. We decided it was right for the story to have this happen. We just wanted to reassure our audience that our employees would go on knowing each other and being okay.
SPITZER: When it was mentioned that Cloud 9 could become a fulfillment center, which is where retail is going, that felt like, “Okay, it’s all more motivated.” It felt like there’s a reason to do that.
Jonathan and Gabe did such a great job I think with telling Covid stories and integrating Covid into the arc this year. So that felt like a satisfying conclusion to that arc.
DEADLINE: America Ferrera previously teased that Superstore could see Amy again. What did those conversations look like around having Amy return for the finale?
SPITZER: It was the first question we asked ourselves. As soon as we were told that the show was ending, we called her and said we’d love it if you could do one or two more episodes and she was immediately on board. It just felt like the series finale would not have felt like the end without her. We knew we wanted her to come back to the end of this. We knew we wanted her to come back to the end of this.
DEADLINE: Justin, you also returned to finish up everything you started for the finale. What was that experience like for you?
SPITZER: When we were told that this would be our last season, Gabe and Jonathan came to me and said “We’d love you to help out as much as you want to,” which has always been our relationship. I wanted to be here as a resource, but not be just an extra set of notes they were contending with. At first I just thought I’d weigh in a little bit. I created Superstore, I still love it and how many times in your life do you get a chance to end the series with 100 plus episodes? The more I got my hands in it the more I wanted to be involved. I’m doing American Auto, but as I got more excited about this, I pushed the start date on that a little bit. I just wanted to be able to see this out.
GREEN: It was great having Justin back in the room breaking the stories with us. I think one thing he really pushed for throughout, especially with the Amy and Jonah stuff, was that in a series finale, people want to see the characters enjoying being together one last time. With Amy and Jonah, we had early drafts where there was a lot more conflict in those final episodes scenes before they get to the place where they end up together. He was definitely a voice for making sure they were having a good time together, knowing that in the end, since they had been in love and their break up was really caused by circumstances, there weren’t huge obstacles in the way preventing them from getting back together. Overall we wanted to make sure the episode was fun and let our characters enjoy being together one last time.
MILLER: Part of the process of doing the series finale was making a listof all the small or the large questions we never answered, faces we would want to see again. We brought back customers, we brought back running jokes. It was a fun process but it was also a bit tricky to find real estate for everything we wanted to do. Ultimately, we had to make some choices but Justin was great in helping to prioritize those things.
GREEN: Seeing people’s initial interview tapes was something Justin had mentioned, if not in season one, by season 2. So the finale seemed like the perfect chance to do that.
DEADLINE: The series finale wraps everything up nicely with happy endings for multiple characters, while teasing new chapters for a number of others in the flash-forward. What were some of the other possible endings you played with before agreeing on this one?
SPITZER: Early on, we discussed the arc of the store closing, coming to a head with all our people getting together to try to to fight the store closing –– whether they should try to buy it themselves to try to convert it to one of these models where retail workers sort of own the store like a chain of grocery stores in Florida. But it almost felt like we were getting too in the weeds about like corporate structuring, that wasn’t really what we wanted. People care about these characters and that’s sort of what we wanted, not a proxy fight.
GREEN: For a while we talked about a sequence where all the employees in the store sort of realized there were no consequences to anything that happened in the store since it was their last day. They were doing everything from telling off a customer in a way that they had always dreamed of doing, to setting up cereal box dominoes throughout the entire store, or pushing all the shelves aside and turning one section into a roller rink with different wheeled store items. Sayid (Amir Korangy)was getting on the mic intercom and testing out his stand-up act that he’d always wanted to do. There’s a whole sequence of that that ended up falling out, unfortunately. There’s such limited space.
MILLER: We also had a sequence where corporate said they had to return the cleaning robot. So as a final act of rebellion they decided, because it was going to be an annoying task of packing up this robot, to program the robot to think that it was going to the garden center. In fact the coordinates were for Buenos Aires. So they set the robot free and had this bon voyage ceremony – they decorated the robot and Dina fired a shotgun. It was going to be a big group ceremony-slash-party to set the robot free.
DEADLINE: We learned back in December that there’s the Bo & Cheyenne spinoff in the works. What are the updates on that front? How does Cheyenne’s place in the flash forward play into that?
SPITZER: We talked about that a little bit as we were writing flash forward – like not wanting to write ourselves into a corner for the spinoff. Where things stand, I truthfully don’t know. Bridget Kyle and Vicky Luu wrote a really, really funny script that the network has and it’d be great if that found a life on NBC or Peacock, but I just don’t know.
That’s a show that takes place more in Bo and Cheyenne’s home life. I would definitely imagine our characters, whose actors would be willing to come and guest star occasionally, would be welcome. I don’t know if we would be absolutely limited, having to say that Cheyenne worked at Sturgis & Sons for the rest of her life. She worked there for a little bit and she moved on, so I think we have flexibility.
DEADLINE: What are some of the other spin-off concepts you’d have liked to pursue if given the chance?
SPITZER: If someone came to me with an idea on the Dina show, it’d definitely be interesting for me, at least. I suppose Glenn’s home life would be an interesting other show and I’m very curious to know what happens with Dina in the future, whether she stays with Garrett or not. I don’t know if I wanted a show set in a fulfillment center, but she’s just a very interesting character. I would be very interested to see Jonah’s political life.
GREEN: One idea for the future that we had talked about was that Garrett finally gets his dream job working at GameStop, which we’d referenced that he’d applied four times, but never got it and never thought it was going to happen. We talked about him moving forward – seeing that he’s finally landed his dream job at GameStop but he’s already on his phone totally checked out, like the same old Garrett. I don’t think that would have made much of a spinoff though.
I always wanted to see more about Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi) and Jerry’s (Chris Grace) home life, especially with Tony as their son.
MILLER: We talked about a version where Carol really did get a ton of money in the settlement with Cloud 9. Back when we didn’t know the series was ending, we thought that she would buy Sandra and Jerry’s apartment building. It’s this weird power move. What does she intend to do and what does this mean to have Carol be a landlord? That sounds like a set up to a show.
GREEN: Yeah, I’d watch that.
DEADLINE: What do you think your characters will be up to in the next 5-10 years?
SPITZER: I would love to know if Jonah wins that office, what the next level of office he runs for. We kept joking in the writers room that the flash forward would be him running against Josh Hawley for Missouri Senate in the future, so maybe he gets there.
MILLER: Amy and Jonah, we see them saying goodnight to two small kids which implies that they’ve had one of their own. We think they will end up in a happy domestic life.
GREEN: I think over the course of the show we’ve seen a lot of evolution for Dina as far as going from being very by-the-book and seeing things in black and white, to being more open to shades of grey by the end of the series. I think that evolution will continue and I thought even in that quick glimpse at the barbecue of her with Garrett – it felt like a softer side of Dina that we’ve never really seen before. I think she’s letting down a lot of her defenses and being more vulnerable and a lot more human. I like to think that evolution will continue. Maybe they’ll start a family at some point.
DEADLINE: What does the series finale mean for Mateo and his citizenship status?
SPITZER: It’s something we struggle with a lot. After we decided to have ICE detain Mateo, we figured there’s not really an easy way to get citizenship. If we showed him getting it, in a way, it might feel false and we didn’t want that. I think even if he married Eric, I’m not sure that he would get citizenship because it would have been known that he had been here illegally. It would have been nice to address that and say that part will also fully end happily, but we didn’t think we could, so that question is just out there.
He has a job, he’s in love, he gets married and I hope that he would just be able to stay in the country and maybe eventually get citizenship, depending on what happens politically. That’s one thing we just don’t know.
GREEN: The reality of someone in his position, where he is undergoing or facing deportation, is that it can really be up in the air and it can be a dragged out process that takes years. I would be rooting for him to eventually get citizenship. In the series it felt right to leave that aspect unsettled, but have Mateo as a character decide that “my future might be up in the air, but I have to move on with my life.” We see at the barbecue that they’ve gotten married and are showing off their wedding rings.
DEADLINE: What was that final day on set like for you, considering Covid-19 safety protocols?
SPITZER: It was nice. It felt very kind of nostalgic to be back and I, you know I haven’t been back there for a while. I go back to the last few days and then it was obviously sad. The last scene we shot was the scene where they’re all watching their interviews. We put together sort of a little compilation tape of like outtakes and stuff through the years, like the very last shot. It was really nice. It’s weird that we couldn’t hug each other and there’s no wrap party, but hopefully that that’ll happen. I don’t know it was bittersweet, but interestingly it felt nice.
MILLER: At the end of shooting, a lot of what people said was just how special this experience was and how well this group of people worked together and the lack of egos and the collaborative creative environment. Alot of people have had this similar observation that this has really spoiled us and that we might not find another experience like this again, we hope we will.
GREEN: It was a very weird experience to be kept at a distance from, physically at a distance from, what was going on even though we wanted to be immersing ourselves on the last day and in the last week of filming.
DEADLINE: What were some of your favorite episodes or types of stories to work on?
SPITZER: Nothing beats “All-Nighter,” it was fun and sort of atypical for us. Also episodes where we dealt with a social issue in a fun way. I remember where Cheyenne’s going into labor at the end of season one. We’re dealing with like healthcare. We never wanted to be a message-y show, but it was really fun to write those scenes where everyone is talking about an issue in a break room.
Anytime we got people in costumes it was fun – our Halloween episodes or we did this video game release where we just you know had a hundred people in like weird barbarian costumes – those were a lot of fun to film.
You set a pattern on a workplace show and then to have everyone just hanging out all night going a little crazy, it’s like the process of acting like you’re having fun just ends up becoming fun in and of itself. I think “Tornado”, too, was one episode where there wasn’t a lot of story story that just let our employees sit around and talk and we got to know them.
The “Tornado” episode was one of my favorites. Anytime we would do something that felt like, “Oh my God I can’t believe we’re doing this. I can’t believe they’re letting us do this,” having a tornado actually hit the store.
GREEN: The smaller weirder moments are the ones that stand out to me and the things I like the best. Like Glenn with the union buster where the guy’s name is Steve and Glenn’s trying to do the role play but he can’t think of any other name except Steve – where we let a bit keep going.
MILLER: I always liked it when we could find a way for a break room meeting to go off the rails and have all our various characters and supporting characters weigh in and have their unique weird takes on things. Those were always fun to write and to see.
DEADLINE: What will you miss most about the Cloud 9 crew and working on Superstore?
SPITZER: It was fun walking into this world. Like when you would just walk on the soundstage and suddenly you’re in this store and it feels like a fully realistic store. You never feel like you’re on a set, so that was fun. I’ll miss the interstitials element – the little pop of comedy. They became harder and harder to kind of come up with new ones, but they were fun to write.
I would say that this group of actors are just such funny improvisers. So I can’t say that that’s not so distinct from other projects that I work on, but there’s nothing more fun than watching them ad lib stuff. We’re getting into editing and just having whole runs that you didn’t write that you can now put in the episode. I always prefer the stuff that feels sort of spontaneous to anything we could write.
A little Dina moment that always made me laugh was in “All-Nighter.” Dina had set out candles for Jonah in this romantic backroom to seduce him and he leaves. And she picked up a candle to blow it out, but it wasn’t a real candle. It was just one of those things you had to switch so then she just turned it over and turned it off. It felt like that moment in like Indiana Jones where he shoots the guy rather than using his whip. It’s like yeah, of course you’d shoot him.
There’s something about a workplace show. You get all the fun parts of being an entrepreneur but with none of the stress or hard work. You get to create a name of a company and the logo or a color scheme and the history of the company. That’s all stuff that’s really fun.
GREEN: We spent most of our time in the writers’ room, so that’s probably what I’ll miss the most. We had so many great writers over the seasons, who are really talented funny people, but really great people too – really kind and collaborative and rooting for each other. It was like a really close-knit group of writers so I’ll definitely miss them.
I’m also gonna miss is the opportunity to not only make a really funny show with great characters but the opportunity to represent a group of people who are sort of under represented in TV and movies, low wage workers, and in such a diverse ensemble. It felt like what we were doing was valuable in that way and not just putting out a funny show on TV. It felt like an opportunity you don’t always have in a TV show.
MILLER: I really enjoyed the fact that we could introduce new employees very organically and you could see someone just go for a joke and if it worked out and if the actor gelled with the rest of the cast and it seemed like a cool new character that we could work in we could bring them back as a recurring character, or even in Sandra’s case, a regular. I think we uniquely had the chance to showcase a lot of different people and were able to have a wide variety of characters to write for and so many of them worked so well.
DEADLINE: What’s in the works now that you’ve wrapped up Superstore?
Green: We actually just finished mixing the finale so we’re sort of coming out of this now and trying to figure out what our next move is going to be. We want to create shows. We’ve been working together for 20 something years and we just want to continue to develop stuff, but we don’t know exactly what the next project is.
MILLER: We’ve always loved workplace comedies and that’s something that we ‘ve always enjoyed writing, so some of our ideas will be in that arena.
DEADLINE: Do you see yourselves collaborating again down the road?
GREEN: Obviously we love working with Justin so we would be very open to a collaboration again sometime.
SPITZER: Oh yeah, I mean they’re amazing. I would love to keep working with them. The timing didn’t work out on this one, but I would always want to work with those guys. They’re the best guys in Hollywood. But nothing, we don’t have anything in the works now.
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