REVIEW: Still essential, still struggling – Hulu’s ‘Superstore’ highlights the struggles of store employees in the pandemic with episode ‘Essential’

Going shopping is an activity that hasn’t changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Many thought we would be over the paper product shortage- but we aren’t. 

On the other side, the life of an employee isn’t generally glamorous or comedic. Still, somehow NBC’s Superstore manages to avoid glorification – but provide comedic relief on the experiences of an essential retail employee. 

“But for now they want everybody to know that, ‘We value our employees’ dedication, you are essential and the true heroes during this chaotic time.’… The SVP of company communications Sandy Sugarman just called us heroes? It’s about damn time.” (Superstore Season 6, Episode 1)

While there are a few other gems within this particular episode, this is one of the few that I think most of us who worked in that position would agree with. Suddenly, those people that you yell at for not taking grandma to the bathroom the first time you called or because the price of your dry lentils rang up wrong – are heroes seen all across news media. 

Although Superstore’s episode ‘Essential’ is dated by words on the screen and realistic early-pandemic situations or references, there is still applicability to our current situation. It just feels as though the writers walked into a store and spent time with the employees rather than ‘shopping and running.’ 

In all honesty, some of the scenarios from this episode feel like they are repeating. We’re facing more significant supply chain and labor shortages, but we still face the same attitudes of people who don’t want to recognize the hard work. 

We’re still essential, but we’re still struggling to find recognition and an understanding that the situations we encounter are beyond our control. We can’t make distilled water, fruit snacks, etc., appear out of thin air in the backroom. 

Overall, ‘Essential’ deserves five stars for its genuine, accurate approach that I think even those living this situation can laugh at while watching. 

Even if one only watches the first and the last episode of season 6, as I did – there is realism, and Garrett’s final announcement (no spoilers) will tug at your heartstrings no matter what you do for a living. 

NBC’s Superstore is available for streaming on Hulu, and all six seasons are available for purchase on YouTube, Google Play, and iTunes.