“Superstore” marks two milestones Thursday night — its 100th episode and the departure of star America Ferrera.
NBC announced in February that Ferrera, 36, was leaving after five seasons of playing Amy Sosa on the workplace sitcom, centered around Cloud 9, a big box store near St. Louis. Ferrera later tweeted that she wanted to “start the next chapter for my family and career.”
But due to the pandemic, “Superstore” shuttered production on Season 5 with one episode to go — delaying Ferrera’s exit until its two-part Season 6 opener, concluding Thursday at 8 p.m.
“We first heard about the possibility that [Ferrera] might be leaving and started to talk about two different paths [for Amy] as much as we could,” says “Superstore” showrunner Jonathan Green, who spoke to The Post along with showrunner Gabe Miller. “When we found out she was definitely leaving we were able to choose one path we’d talked about.”
“America was such a huge part of the show and made amazing contributions in front of and behind the camera,” says Miller. “We’ve always had such a deep bench of strong actors and well-developed characters, so when we heard [Ferrera was leaving] we figured out how to adjust.”
Last season was supposed to end with Amy moving to California with her boyfriend Jonah (co-star Ben Feldman) after accepting a job with Cloud 9’s parent company, Zephra. The Oct. 29 season opener found the Cloud 9 team dealing with the early days of the pandemic; Thursday’s episode will be devoted to Amy’s goodbye.
“It’s Amy’s last day in the store and all the employees are dealing with it in different ways, some better than others,” says Greene.
“Glenn and Mateo [Mark McKinney, Nico Santos] are putting together a video goodbye for Amy that her fellow co-workers are all taking part in,” says Miller. “Dina [Lauren Ash] has her own Dina-ish way of approaching the fact that her friend is moving away.”
Both Miller and Green say Ferrera, who’d been on “Superstore” since its 2015 premiere, had the show’s best interests at heart when she decided to leave.
“It was very important to America that the show keep going without her — she didn’t want to be the reason it ended,” says Green. “And we didn’t want to announce her departure until we had a Season 6 pickup. The relationships the cast has with each other are very strong. They’re all really close, and we see this as an opportunity to go deeper with the other characters.”
Once Ferrera leaves, Feldman will take the lead role at Cloud 9.
“When Jonah came in, he was the new guy,” says Miller. “At this point in Season 6, he’s really sort of the grounded center of the show. He’s one of the work family and has relationships with all the characters that go pretty deep. He’s stepping up and looking for a little more responsibility in the store and trying to become more of a leader in certain ways.”
“One thing Ben has always been really skilled at is getting comedy from reacting to the craziness around him,” says Green. “Sometimes we can go to a reaction shot, or it’s a look from him, and he knows how to make it funny. It’s like his unsung skill.
“We’ve found ways to make Jonah the funny one in the story who’s gotten carried away or is over-eager,” he says. “You’re going to see him being overly careful about trying to do the right thing in certain situations and be self-conscious about how he’s coming off — which leads to comedy.”
While Ferrera is leaving “Superstore,” Green and Miller say there’s a chance viewers could see her reappear down the road.
“That’s the nice thing about having [Amy] leave to go to work for a corporation that’s organically in the world of the show,” Green says. “We hope we’re leaving the door open to see her again.”
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