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Superstore - Hair Care Products - Advance Preview

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“Justice 1, Racism 0.” 
“I’m not sure that’s the score.”

I won’t lie: this week’s episode of Superstore might not make you feel warm and cozy about the state of the world at the end of the day. But - and, if it’s not clear, I mean this as a genuine compliment - Superstore never does.

“Hair Care Products” is an empathetic, philosophically complex half-hour of TV, indirectly addressing the Black Lives Matter movement that encountered a major resurgence last summer after the epidemic of unjust killings of African Americans across the U.S. came to the forefront of the cultural mindset.

As previously announced in its press release, the episode centers around the end of a racist Cloud 9 policy that stirs the Store 1217 gang to talk about systemic racism, both in the broader sense and in the workplace, with Garrett becoming the somewhat reluctant spokesman for himself and his Black coworkers.

The episode doesn’t give any actual reference to the events surrounding the historic protests (to be fair, they were already touched on in the season premiere). However, this episode is still a clear reaction to the movement as a whole, as it provided a space for people of color to openly talk about the discrimination they face daily, and for many white Americans to reevaluate their own everyday microaggressions and begin better recognizing the borderlines of cultural appropriation.

We’ll see all that “white guilt” in full force this week, played up for some great laughs, but it remains obvious that this episode was specifically made with the intention to highlight Black viewpoints first and foremost, something which it does with comedy, sensitivity and nuance.

That nuance is the wonderful thing that makes this week’s episode (and all of the show’s more topical episodes, really) so effective: unlike the bulk of other shows brave enough to tackle complex subject matter, Superstore doesn’t claim to know all the answers. Instead, it just gives a voice to the issue at hand, often letting all the sides play out against one another, with each participant giving their own (usually obviously incorrect), deeply in-character take.

The Superstore writers have become masters at mining accessible comedy out of brutal, occasionally embarrassing, sometimes furious honesty; a feat that doesn’t easily translate to the half-hour workplace show format so well as it does to the likes of drier-humored cable dramedies. When the show signs off for good later this year, it will be a unique voice sorely missed on my TV each week (although, possibly a voice that will live on yet, in the recently-announced spinoff Bo and Cheyenne?).

Superstore comes back from winter break this Thursday, January 14th, airing in its new 8:30 PM timeslot, with an episode that once again cements that while the NBC comedy doesn’t pull a punch, it is easily the one of the best sources for topical storylines in contemporary television.

Are you excited for Superstore to return? Any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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