Thursday, October 25, 2018

REVIEW: 'Superstore' - Things Get Outrageous When Discussing Offensive Halloween Costumes in 'Costume Competition'

NBC's Superstore - Episode 4.04 "Costume Competition"

When an employee costume competition is announced, Amy and Mateo aren't afraid to play dirty to win first prize - a paid day off. Glenn is preoccupied by Cloud 9's new automatic cart collector. Garrett is tormented by an annoying Halloween novelty song.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's Superstore.

"Costume Competition" was written by Justin Shanes and directed by Todd Biermann

Superstore has established some very amusing Halloween traditions over the last few seasons. It's great that Dina wears the same sexy police officer costume every year while Jonah dresses up as some abstract political issue that no one can understand right away. Moreover, this Halloween episode is even more topical than before because it deals with cultural appropriation when it comes to costumes. It's airing during the same week that Megyn Kelly made some horrendous comments about blackface on her talk show. And now, a show on the same exact network is telling an outrageous story that boils down just how complicated Halloween costumes can be. On the surface, the outrage in this story comes from Amy and Mateo wanting to win the costume competition and win a paid day off. They want that to enjoy their lives outside of work. Amy has even been told that she should be off her feet during the final months of her pregnancy. That also provides some brief commentary about how not every pregnancy is the same. Dina is doing great at the moment despite being more pregnant. As such, she expects Amy to still be doing her job the same as always. But that's why she fights so fiercely to disqualify as many costumes as possible during this competition. She doesn't want to lose to Cheyenne simply because she is wearing the sexiest costume. Even though Amy puts hers together at the last minute, she still puts a great deal of effort in it to win. Mateo does the exact same thing. He actually changes to a more elaborate costume as soon as he learns about the competition. That's what everyone does. Everyone wants to put their best foot forward. It just means that some are willing to resort to tricks in order to prevail in this competition. Amy and Mateo target people's sensitivities and outrage. It addresses the idea of how one person's fun and sexy Halloween costume can be offensive to someone else. Cheyenne didn't think about how Sandra would react to her Hawaiian outfit. Sandra didn't think about it either until Amy and Mateo pointed it out to her. That too could be seen as all of this being an intellectual conversation instead of one that is actually playing out in the real world. And yet, consequences are seen throughout this episode as outrage spreads throughout the employees. It makes it so everyone assumes that they can continue wearing what they have on as long as they take the time to empower the people they are portraying. That leads to the hilarious joke of Marcus doing a horrible Jamaican accent only to then have a serious conversation about the slave trade. It proves that these employees can be committed to learning new information. It just has to come out of a personal desire. And it doesn't even lead to Amy pulling off an honest and genuine win. She only walks away with this paid day off because Jonah rigs the results in her favor. As such, he is just as guilty of voter suppression as the costume he is wearing. Elsewhere, Glenn and Garrett's stories are absolutely hilarious. They are completely separate from the competition that is swirling around the rest of the staff. They aren't competing even though they are wearing costumes as well. But their stories provide some fantastic visuals as Glenn believes he is being followed by a sentient machine and Garrett is horrified by the consistency with which a lame Halloween song is played in the store. Both of them are very solid and provide some nice levity to the serious discussion happening elsewhere in the episode.