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Television

Superstore S3E12, “Groundhog Day”

I was at a conference all weekend, so I’m just now getting to this. Hope the delay wasn’t too devastating for any of our loyal readers.

The titular plot is really an excuse to dive into Amy’s dating life now that her divorce from Adam is real (if not final, she’s at least calling it a divorce). Her enthusiasm for the groundhog brought in for the store’s “Meet a Groundhog” promotion leads the rodent’s handler to ask her out, which flusters her to the point of her accidentally knocking over and smashing the groundhog’s habitat, and possibly killing it. (Mateo: “Does that mean we go straight to summer?”)

This leads into a discussion about Amy’s dating life, mostly spurred by Cheyenne and Mateo, who are trying to encourage her to get back out there. The other employees all take up interest: Tate, the pharmacist, uses a series of mixed vehicular metaphors to describe re-entering the dating world (my favorite is “seeing if that rusty hull is seaworthy again”), while Marcus suggests a tryst, because “word on the street is that you’re horny and looking for love.” (Marcus’ source: “Turns out a little bird and her, uh, gay friend bird told me.”) This whole scene is hilarious, Marcus’ mistaken conception of a will-they-won’t-they between him leading him to describe them as Kermit and Miss Piggy in what might be the line of the night. “Yeah, you’re Kermit because you’re smart and have skinny legs, and I’m Miss Piggy because I’m a star.” (If I took a page from Alan Sepinwall on how he introduces his reviews, I would definitely have used this line.)

When Amy turns down Mateo’s offer to set her up with one of his cousins, he and Cheyenne try to convince her she needs to be realistic about her standards, which leads into a breakdown of her imperfections in the dating world (with a pretty surprising amount of discussion, for a network sitcom, of Amy’s… let’s say “personal grooming”). And then of course everyone starts rating her and the other employees on a 1-10 scale. Carol is a 4, poor Justine is a 3, Brett is an 8 somehow, and Tate is a 10– which seems surprising for how daffy and poor at his job he can be, but as Mateo and Cheyenne remind Amy, he’s got a good job and abs. (Tate: “I am the complete package.”)

Amy, seeking validation, engages in a bizarre exchange with a customer to try to get his opinion on her 1-10-ness, and after embarrassing herself, vents her frustrations to Tate. (“I found on a scale of 1-10, I’m immensely unappealing.”) Tate tells her she should hold out for a man who’s good enough for her, and even though she recognizes that as a line, it still works: She accepts his offer for drinks at a bar where “I told them I’m a veteran, so I drink for half price,” leading to a smash cut to them making out at said bar.

The next day, though, Amy is a little distant, at first wanting to keep this a secret, and then needing validation, letting it slip to Mateo and Cheyenne. When she later talks to Tate about how she was having a bad day and really just needed to feel good about herself, he seems genuinely hurt, like he was interested in her beyond that. Their confrontation, of course, attracts all the other employees. Marcus is the most angry, claiming he had “dibs” (ref. season 2’s “Ladies’ Lunch”). Mostly this ends up being an excuse for people to pile onto her, one that seems to bother Jonah.

Speaking of Jonah, the B-plot. (Nailed that transition.) Dina tries to come into work the day after having Glenn and Jerusha’s embryo implanted. Glenn is insistent she takes the day off, but when she will not leave, he puts his foot down– that’s an expensive investment for him, after all– and sets her up in outdoors to lie down and relax. Over the course of the day, Dina manages to go from tightly wound and trying to do her job (her intense, willful efforts to relax are great) to finding a sort of zen calm in watching one of the fountains. She enjoys it so much that she ends up sleeping at the store, and the next day manages to manipulate Glenn into continuing to pamper her.

Someone’s got to do the assistant manager job, though, and when Garrett realizes he can hook up his Xbox to the security cameras, he volunteers. Of course, the job entails more than that, and Garrett gets a rare comeuppance when he’s not only expected to clean up and make sure employees are getting their jobs done, but also pressed into service again when Dina takes another day off, which finally breaks him as he realizes the stress of the position is turning him into Dina.

With Garrett assistant managing, someone has to do the announcements, and Jonah excitedly volunteers. Since it’s Garrett’s job now to assign the position, Jonah starts lobbying him with “I once did a radio play in college–” Garrett responds with “Okay, fine. Just don’t tell me one more word about it.”

Jonah struggles at first, until Kelly helps him unlock his potential by stepping in as his co-host. She turns out to be great in the role, and their chemistry works really well on the PA. At one point Sandra even makes a guest appearance and kills it. (I don’t think this will happen, but there is an interesting story to be told if Garrett left the announcing job and got Wally Pipped, while being stuck in a job he hates (and would lose once Dina came back).)

Neat twist at the end: Jonah is a little bummed after hearing the news about Amy’s previous night. It’sq partly because of how everyone’s treating her, but also of course because of his own feelings about her. He starts tanking the announcements, but then Kelly manages to perk him back up and get him re-engaged. Maybe there’s enough chemistry here to make this third-season will-they-won’t-they-with-a-love-triangle plausible. Now I wonder which show in Justin Spitzer’s resumé he learned that from…

A little bit of a strange episode. On the one hand, I had a number of laugh-out-loud moments, particularly in any scene with Marcus. On the other hand, I felt like the discussion of Amy’s private life was invasive and even graphic, even for this show. (Mateo tells her, “So you’re just tossing that cat around.” Good lord.) The final confrontation was basically a bunch of people getting into something that isn’t their business and then severely exaggerating about it or berating her unfairly. (Nobody has told Marcus yet that “dibs” on a woman isn’t actually a thing, huh?) So I laughed enough to overlook the weirdness, but this isn’t the first time this season I’ve found that some really aggressive and unprofessional behavior by the employees was just sort of shrugged off.

Anyhow, I still liked it on the whole. Being funny usually makes it work regardless.

ATTENTION CLOUD 9 SHOPPERS

  • Garrett discovering some of the weirder and grosser responsibilities of management: “Why are these pants moist?” Glenn: “Oh, that happens.”
  • Sandra wants to knock off early to get to the senior water aerobics class she teaches. “They yell at me if I’m late. It can get racist. They don’t know what I am, so it’s kind of all over the place.”
  • Amy doesn’t know if she killed the groundhog, but even if it lives, it’ll never be the same.
  • Dina finally got a good night’s sleep because her birds’ night terrors didn’t wake her.
  • Also, her whore’s bath recipe (the real thing, not the drink) is wet wipes and Febreze. Whatever works.
  • Garrett can’t get out of the assistant manager job the second day because Glenn has to go feed Dina’s birds. “I gotta go Google how to give insulin to a parrot!”
  • Jonah’s first solo announcement: “Attention Cloud 9 shoppers: Sushi is on sale at the deli. Mmm, discount sushi from a big box store. Why just eat when you can gamble at the same time!” He’s not wrong that he would be better with someone to riff with. (He couldn’t really be worse.)
  • In response to that, Kelly offers: “Yeah, sure, like a co-host. Like Kelly Ripa!” Jonah: “Yes, or Hoda.” Of course Jonah has strong opinions on his favorite morning talk show co-host.
  • Tate’s opener to Amy after they listen to Jonah and Kelly duet on a version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” rewritten to sell store products is pretty solid, and right up Amy’s wheelhouse of being annoyed by Jonah (and Jonah and Kelly together): “I think we should allow bullying in schools if it would prevent stuff like this.”
  • Marcus’ reaction to finding out Amy hooked up with Tate puts a nice button on his Muppets metaphor: “I guess sometimes Kermit goes home with Beaker.”
    • I use “hooked up” because that’s what the show says, and never makes it clear if they actually have intercourse or what. If they’re keeping it vague, so am I.
  • Best interstitial: The guy who put his own head in the groundhog cutout to take a selfie.
  • Sorry to have more recap than review. This isn’t really a show that explores a lot of deep themes for the most part. Also, I seem to have picked up a sinus infection at the conference, so it feels like parts of my skull are pushing down on the Deep Analysis parts of my brain.
  • What did everyone else think?