NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Superstore” are present in this review
Superstore has been off the air for a few weeks, but it finally returned with a new episode this week. “Ladies’ Lunch” finally had the store learning all about Amy’s and Adam’s marriage troubles, on a particularly slow day where the credit card system is down. Amy’s marriage situation was thus the focus of the core story arc, as Dina kidnaps Amy and Sandra, presumably alongside the other female Cloud 9 employees, and forces them all out on a lunch so that they can drink and gossip.
The central storyline with Dina’s lunch was definitely the strongest plotline in the episode, even if it took a short while to get going. The employees’ overblown reactions to Amy’s marriage trouble hit upon some predictable punch lines, but once Dina took it upon herself to get the ladies of Cloud 9 out to a restaurant and hammered, the episode really took off in a great way.
This essentially boiled down to separating the male and female employees of Cloud 9 into separate story arcs, with the men left behind at the store while it’s forced to only accept cash, meaning that no customers are bothering with it. This has a bored Jonah and Garrett eventually coming up with a made-up paper-tossing game that the other employees gradually get roped into, eventually leading to all-out chaos back at the store.
NBC has whipped out the whole ‘office sports’ storyline at least once in all of their high-profile workplace-themed sitcoms, so it was only a matter of time before it showed up on Superstore. Hell, even FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine incorporated this storyline into an episode a couple of seasons ago. It’s a tried-and-true workplace sitcom story with some decent laughs, though it also doesn’t really present anything new or interesting for the show’s male ensemble. As with the other instances in NBC’s past, this story mostly just serves as gag fodder, beyond a small rivalry between Jonah and Marcus that seemingly outs Jonah’s feelings for Amy to the men following a blow-up, after Marcus keeps trying to compete for ‘dibs’ on Amy if she gets divorced.
Like I said though, it was the women that really carried this episode, especially in terms of story development. This was a great chance to continue getting to know the show’s female employees, with gags both subtle and blatant further fleshing out the B-list employees at Cloud 9 especially. This is probably the first time we’ve seen any sort of noteworthy interactions from Carol, who is revealed to be an opportunistic homewrecker that is already trying to steal Adam out from Amy, and why she’s interested in Adam, God only knows. We also get a first-hand account of Justine’s alleged drinking problem, even though it’s also hinted that she’s only an out-of-control social drinker, and when her friends’ backs are turned, she actually tries to sober up. It’s not a huge amount of development, but it’s something, and it gives us more quirky personality traits with which to relate to the lesser-known portion of Cloud 9’s female workforce, beyond Amy, Cheyenne and Dina, who are also at the lunch, even though we already know a lot about them by this point.
Naturally, the lunch doesn’t go as planned, with Amy eager to get out and not talk about her issues, though surprisingly, this hurts Dina’s feelings, after she admits that the lunch isn’t working, and the female employees don’t have anything in common. Dina coming out and admitting that she doesn’t have many female friends was a nice vulnerable moment, and one that had Amy coming around for her in the end, even though it was a bit strange to not have either of them acknowledge their bonding moment at the shooting range from Season One. Still, considering that minor oversight, it was nonetheless funny to have all of the women return to the store while considerably drunk, especially when they have to pretend that nothing is wrong to Glenn in particular.
We also see Sandra get dealt a surprising dose of karma shortly before the storyline wraps up, when she makes a hilarious false description of her fictional romantic habits with Jeff at the lunch, only to then meet a genuinely great guy that she has a lot in common with at the bar. Since Sandra has been lying about seeing Jeff though, Carol swoops in and says that Sandra has a boyfriend, taking the guy for herself, much to Sandra’s dismay. Obviously, it was inevitable that Sandra’s deception would eventually come back to haunt her, whether or not Jeff ever found out about it, but the way that the show had Sandra get what was coming to her was genuinely clever, if also a little sad. Poor Sandra just wants to be recognized for something. In a weird way, she’s not that different from Dina, despite the fact that Dina clearly despises her. Actually, why did Dina bring Sandra along to lunch in the first place? That’s another question that the episode strangely doesn’t answer.
Still, “Ladies’ Lunch” was a pretty good episode of Superstore, even though the women definitely had the better storyline. The men mostly just trotted out a well-worn NBC workplace sitcom story template, even if they still had enough laughs to get by with it. It was the development with Amy’s marital woes however, along with the further fleshing-out of B-list employees like Carol, Justine, Myrtle and Sandra, that really marked the episode. Amy’s marriage isn’t over yet, despite the show becoming more and more direct with Jonah and Amy having a repressed attraction to one another, but even as the seeming inevitability of a Jonah/Amy romance seems to keep unfolding, it’s cool to see that Superstore still always manages to deliver more inspiration from its jokes and writing than many would expect.
- Dina trying to make friends in the weirdest way possible
- Great chance to get to know the B-list female employees
- Inspired punishment for Sandra after lying about Jeff
- The 'office games' plot has been done in numerous other workplace sitcoms
- Did Amy and Dina forget about their shooting range trip?