‘Superstore’ Finale Interview: Despite The Show Ending The Cast Loves Each Other (Even Ben Feldman)

Cloud 9 has officially closed. After six hilarious and thought provoking seasons, Superstore is officially ending its run tonight. Since 2015, we’ve followed Jonah (Ben Feldman), Dina (Lauren Ash), Mateo (Nico Santos), Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi), Garrett (Colton Dunn), Glenn (Mark McKinney), and Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura) through deportations, union organizing, shortened maternity leave, and every other obstacle that was thrown at the employees of our favorite big box store. Despite lead America Ferrera’s departure earlier this season and COVID complicating production, the show finished strong, finishing up in true Superstore fashion: hilarious and bittersweet.

After sitting down to interview the cast and show runner Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green, it became very clear to me how proud they were of Superstore and how much they adored each other. Jokes flew constantly. Both Ben Feldman and Colton Dunn kept up a fake feud for the interview. Everyone couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. As we say goodbye to these characters, it’s clear showrunners Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green and actors Feldman, Ash, Dunn, Santos, Kauahi, McKinney, and Sakura have no-plans to say goodbye to each other.

Here are those conversations. Mild spoilers for tonight’s finale.

Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green (Showrunners and Executive Producers)

One thing that jumped out while watching the finale, and it’s true over the course of the whole show, it teeters between cynical and realistic but with heartwarming moments. How did you kind of approach coming to an ending that blended the best of both of those? How did you approach that blend?

Gabe Miller: I think, as you’re saying, both things were important to us. It felt like it wouldn’t feel like the show if it was a completely upbeat, happy, almost fairytale ending. So we liked that our ending allowed us to have that note of reality and basically kind of a combination of not only themes of the series, but specifically our COVID season that’s put more pressure on retail. So we like that that was an element, but at the same time it’s the finale of this series that viewers love and we love and we want the characters to end in a good place and reassure people that they’re going to be okay after the series ends.

Jonathan Green: Fighting to save the store seemed like a good natural way to get Amy back in St. Louis and back in with her people. But we felt like winning that fight wouldn’t feel like our show or like real life. One store can’t band together and manage to change a big corporate decision like that. So it was a matter of finding a way for them to lose that battle, but still land in a good place.

I imagine writing the finale for a six-season TV show is a challenge and there are many darlings you have to kill in order to make the proper airtime. Are there any character endings that you guys wanted to have happen that ended up not being in the final episode?

Jonathan Green: We sort of had a thing that was sort of maybe just a joke level thing, but as far as where Garrett ends up job wise, we don’t actually end up seeing that in the finale because he’s the one giving the announcement at the end that we’re showing the flash forwards from. We ended up feeling like we’re getting enough Garrett presence and we see him at the barbecue with Dina, but there was a pitch along the way. He had mentioned this season that he had applied to GameStop four times and had never gotten a job there. This was obviously before all of the big Wall Street news with GameStop. We had a whole storyline actually, where Glenn helped him get a job at GameStop. Garrett wasn’t even gonna bother applying for the fifth time cause he had never gotten it, but Glenn ended up putting in a good word and really selling them on Garrett. So Garrett would finally got his dream job at GameStop. And then we liked the idea that in the flash forward, we see Garrett at GameStop, but already totally checked out. He’s on his phone like the same old Garrett. The joke was that a job is a job. It’s about, like Garrett says, the moments with the people there, but the job itself, even his dream job, didn’t end up being what he thought.

Kaliko Kauahi (Sandra), Nichole Sakura (Cheyenne) and Mark McKinney:

Kaliko, Sandra is just an iconic character. Definitely one of the most layered on the show, you’re always learning something new about her. How did you tap into someone who is not who they seem on the surface?

Kaliko Kauahi: So many of her qualities, as you learned about them, I learned about them too. The week before I’d read the script and be like, “Oh, she has incredible memory! She’s a midwife!” I think that’s kind of where it came from. I was like, “I’ve got to figure out how to present this in a way for her it’s normal, but for everyone else it’s like “What? That’s weird!” So it’s just been so great to work with the writers. I never expected to have a character grow this much and really come into her own after six seasons. It’s been so much fun playing with these guys, so grateful.

Nichole, you are part of one of the show’s most iconic couples. Of course, I’m talking about Mateo and Cheyenne. How did that dynamic duo come about and what was your favorite moment together with Nico?

Nichole Sakura: (Laughs) Oh gosh, I love that episode where we’re talking about our business ideas and then at the end they’re like” Yeah, we’re not really going to do this.” I just feel like that’s so me and some of my friends. We’re dreaming up all these schemes, but like come on, let’s be real. It’s just fun. I think it came about really organically. I love Nico, he’s such a fun person to be around. I just feel like our characters just naturally had that chemistry and they kept writing to it and it just works. It was very natural. I wish I could take credit for the idea to put them together.

Mark McKinney: Take it! Take it! What are they gonna do to you?

Kaliko Kauahi: They dont know!

If it appears in print, it can’t be a lie, right?

Nichole Sakura: (Laughs) Totally.

How similar to your characters are you?

Mark McKinney: I have a lot of Glen. Well, I’d like to think that I have a lot of Glen’s heart, lack of remorse – one that doesn’t always work out for me. But I really related to it. It was really easy to lean into his (goes into Glenn voice.) “Well, then we’ll make lemonade!” attitude. I hope I’m like that.

Kaliko Kauahi: Sandra is just full of extremes. Depends on the day, depends on the circumstance. But I think within that, that’s in me somewhere. When she is quiet and can’t make up for herself, I have those moments. I think that as a society though, we’ve typically kind of pretend that we’re fine or play it off and play it cool. Sandra does not know how to play it cool. If she’s sad and depressed or if she’s off, you’re going to see it cause she can’t hold it. I actually liked that about her, that she can hold it in.

Nichole Sakura: I think I’m more like Cheyenne than maybe people would already assume. I used to think like, “Oh God she’s so unintellectual!” I mean, I’m not a big intellect myself, but I do think we have that thing in common where we think that we know something about the world and then it turns out, we really don’t. Yeah, I relate to her on a lot of levels for sure. And she’s like a hopeless romantic, which I love about her. I love Cheyenne.

Mark, Dave Foiley, your former collaborator on Kids in Hall got to appear on Superstore a few weeks back. How much of a role did you play in getting him to the show and what can you kind of say about getting to work with him in this environment?

Mark McKinney: He came and visited the set, I think second or third season maybe. I think after that I mentioned to the showrunners or Justin probably, “Hey, you know, he’d be a really good character. He’s funny. We’ve got good chemistry.” It was a total surprise when he finally showed up. I was really thrilled. It was fun. It was weird because here I’m in season six of one show, but when we had a couple of scenes together, we clicked back into our old Kids in the Hall rhythms. I hope it fits!

Nichole Sakura: I loved working with him. He was so cool.

Mark McKinney: He’s very cool. And he’s everywhere! I was clicking around looking for our show and I saw him and thought thought, “Oh wait, this is Dave’s epsiode?” He was on The Goldbergs like last week. 

Nichole Sakura: Popular actor.

Mark McKinney: He is a popular actor. He was in that Ant movie. [A Bug’s Life, not Ant Man].

Colton Dunn (Garrett) and Nico Santos (Mateo)

Colton, you’ve been very vocal on your social media about how hard it is to work with Ben Feldman. Despite what was the dynamic like on set and how do you think that contributed to the show?

Colton Dunn: (Laughs) Yes, well, other than my very public and well-known rivalry with Ben Feldman, other than that it was an absolute joy to work with everybody on this show. What really drives a lot of things are people who don’t get along, rivalries, crazy people storming off sets, and we didn’t really have that at all on our show. In fact, it was the exact opposite. We all really enjoyed each other from the very beginning. We’ve all met each other’s kids and been to each other’s homes. It really was just such a wonderful place to work. That’s the biggest thing that we’re going to miss is the people we got to work with. It’s just so rare out here to find a situation at a job where you’re not dealing with people with personality disorders or all of the other myriad of attributes that a lot of times my fellow thespians tend to suffer from. Including Ben Feldman (laughs).

Nico Santos: It has been incredible. After a couple of years working on the show, I was talking to a lot of my actor friends who were series regulars on their shows as well. I was just telling them how much we got along and what I enjoyed was to just be around each other and that we’re actually friends and that we hang out. All of them, “I hope you realize how rare that is and how special that is.” After hearing that from every working actor that I knew, I was like, “Oh my God, like, I really struck gold with this one.” Honestly, I’m so sad that this show’s ending, I just don’t know if I’ll ever experience this type of closeness and camaraderie again. Who knows what my next show will be, but like this particular show was a dream and I just really cherish what we had.

What was the most challenging aspect about playing your character?

Nico Santos: For me, it was just not making Mateo – I hate the word stereotypical. It carries so much stigma because you look at Mateo and yes, he’s sort of like the sassy, bitchy, gay guy and people are like “That’s a stereotype!” I’m like, “Well, no people like that exist”. You know? I modeled that after real people that I know. That’s why I love the fact that he was undocumented because it just rounded up his story and made you realize why he is the way he is. But I think the most challenging part is sort of towing that line.

Colton Dunn: Yeah. I think for me, the most challenging part was having to just arrive every day, put on the costume, walk onto set and have to stand next to Ben Feldman.

Nico Santos: (Laughs) Your life is so hard.

Colton Dunn: That was tough. I never have to do that again. Thank God. (Cackles with laughter)

Both of your characters started out as sarcastic with a hard outer shell, but throughout the series, especially toward the end, both of your characters experience some tender moments. Do you feel like you could’ve gone on for five more seasons or are you happy with kind of where your characters landed?

Colton Dunn: I think there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that this show could have gone on for as long as we wanted it to go. The writers did such an incredible job of building up these characters, really rooting them in reality. I think you also notice, we have a ton of characters that started to come in and then became even more of the family. Sandra, who was there from the beginning, sort of in the background really moved up towards the front. All the characters that were sort of introduced and kind of really came into their own. To me in a perfect world, this show would have just kept on going. And any of us could have said, “Hey, you know what? I think we’re done, I’ll move out.” And there would be another great real character there to fill those shoes. Yes, I do think we could’ve gone forever but I also think that we really went for a great long time. At the end of the day, when somebody sits down and streams the entire series of Superstore, it’s going to be an awesome time.

Nico Santos: Yeah, I completely agree. I mean, like in a perfect world, again, we wouldn’t have been canceled and we’ve have gone on forever. I think the world that Justin Switzer and all the writers have created really lends itself to opening it up with a lot of different characters. We could have just, Grey’s Anatomy-ed this and introduced a whole batch of new workers every season and it really would have worked. There’s so much material to draw from. But you know, we’re ending on season six. I do wish we had a few more episodes to this season to really sort of like tie up some things that we weren’t able to explore, like Eric and Mateo’s proposal. I would have loved to have seen a wedding for those two just so Mateo would have like a real solid win for him.

Colton Dunn: There’s going to be those things I think with this show that when you go back and look and they’ll be like, “Oh, this was that show that in the pandemic sort of already had a big shift in their cast and then the pandemic hit and then they got canceled. There’s definitely a lot of stuff that I know that a lot of the fans are going to go, “What about that thing? Or that felt wrapped up a little quickly.” Yeah. It’s going to happen and it’s sort of unfortunate. I would just chalk it up to the pandemy.

Nico Santos: Thanks Corona!

Ben Feldman (Jonah) and Lauren Ash (Dina)

One of the fun elements of the finale was getting to see the flashback to their first interviews at Cloud Nine. What was it like filming that moment, especially as you knew you were saying goodbye to the show?

Ben Feldman: Lauren, you looked the most ridiculous.

Lauren Ash: I totally did. I tried to get them to let me keep my retainer in for the whole scene, but they thought it was distracting though I give them props for letting me at least take it out at the beginning. That’s my actual high school retainer fun fact. I loved that. I thought it was such a cool, fun, little nod and wink for anyone who’s been with us for six seasons. I thought it was like such a cute fun thing and it was fun to get to see that different stylized period in their lives. Getting to see like Amy during that time and Dina during that time, I thought it was like such a fun wink to what their beginnings looked like then. Dina looks quite different now than she did at the beginning of season one so it’s cool to see what she looked like 15 years before that.

Ben Feldman: Yeah, for me, it wasn’t that wild because I was just playing sort of within the world of the actual show anyway. So it was, it was, I don’t know. I put on a long sleeve shirt.

Lauren on your TikTok account, you’ve talked about how not only you’ve loved playing Dina, but how you’ve loved how Dina’s hotness is portrayed on the show, as you’ve said without “without caveats and without quantifications.” How do you think Superstore has helped plus-size representation and what do you think Hollywood needs to do to further body diversity on screen? 

Lauren Ash: Yeah, that tick-tock video I made was in response to someone that said “Dina is the best example of plus size representation on television.” And I thought that was both amazing and really sad because to me, one of the things that I think is awesome about it is that Dina is just portrayed as being super hot. It’s never like, “Oh, she’s hot for her size. Or isn’t it weird that someone of her size is that confident?” Because truthfully it’s not weird. It’s realistic. I’m a size 12/14, which is not insane in the scheme of the world. There’s lots of people who are my size and all different sizes. The point I was also trying to make on that TikTok was if I am the greatest example of that at a size 12/14, and that it’s kind of revolutionary that we weren’t commenting on my body, we were just allowing me to be sexy at times on the show, then I think that it shows that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done and that we just need to see more representation. I think that’s the number one thing, just seeing more bodies represented and allowing them to just be, and that the story doesn’t have to be about the body. It’s just about different people who look differently and are confident and sexy in their body. Because the shocking thing is that confidence and sexiness are very related and size and sexiness actually are not, which I think is a misconception that has been perpetuated by media. So again, on one hand, I’m so proud and I’m so happy, but on the other hand, I’m distraught that we have so much further to go.

You both had such close relationships with America Ferrera’s character, Amy, in very different ways. What was it like having America back for these last few episodes?

Ben Feldman: It was great. What if I was like “It was interesting. Done.”

Lauren Ash: (Laughs) Our time is up! Sorry!

Ben Feldman: All right! (throws up hands). No, no, no, no. What was interesting about it was it’s kind of like when you go back home and see all your high school friends and you kind of just jumped right back into your banter as though decades didn’t go by. In this case it was nine episodes or whatever. It felt right. It just felt like the right, the smart, the comfortable, the happy, the homiest way to end the show. And it probably would have felt weird to do all that without America. It was a bunch of pieces finally being put together again. It was Humpty Dumpty getting back up on the wall.

Lauren Ash: I agree. I mean, it would have been very bizarre not to have her. It was great to have her for as long as we did in these last couple. We were really in the trenches in these last couple, we shot for 12 days straight with no breaks. It was long days and it felt very right having the full band back together, going through that kind of like insane schedule. It felt right.

Ben Feldman: It was also really exciting too because America and I went back and forth talking with the other producers and the writers about kind of figuring out how to get Jonah and Amy right. We were really, really involved and it was a super collaborative experience. America and I are super annoying and just harassed the writers and the producers constantly. They were incredibly gracious and respectful and fun to work with. It was like a big team effort to kind of land this plane, which felt really cool.

Lauren Ash: There’s some really, really fun Dina & Amy moments, in that last episode, especially. I did ADR yesterday and I saw some of them and it’s really fun to kind of see again the trajectory of their friendship and seeing Dina see her for the first time is really a nice payoff, I think in terms of the story of their friendship.

Let’s wrap things up in a nice little bow shall we? What do you hope Superstore’s legacy is?

Lauren Ash: Right now, we’re being found for the first time in so many places around the world. It is nutty – love from Canada, the UK, Australia. It’s been really a trip ending the show as people are discovering it for the first time, but it’s a real reminder of what a cool time capsule the show is, how relevant the show was in the moment, but continues to be. The themes that we talked about continue to kind of percolate. I know there’s a lot of talk about it and it’s not meant to sound braggadocious at all, but I really am proud of the show. And I think it did earn it spot as being one of those iconic NBC comedies. For some reason, it usually takes until the show’s over for you to finally get your blazer on the way out the door or whatever.

Ben Feldman: I think 10 minutes before we left.

Lauren Ash: We did! They were like, “here you go get out.” I think just, just the legacy that we created something that was really special with characters that people really, really loved and told stories that were relevant and really kind of pushed things. I go back and watch some of those old episodes and I’m like, “Wow, We really did kind of go to some cool places.” There’s nothing better. There’s nothing better than being on a show that people loved and continue to love and will continue to love. I mean, it’s the best thing.

You can watch Superstore’s season finale and the rest of season six on VOD.