Superstore bosses talk Amy's exit, what's next for Jonah
And then there were… still a lot of Cloud 9 employees. But on Thursday, Superstore said farewell to Amy (America Ferrera) as she moved to California without Jonah (Ben Feldman) to begin her next adventure. With her gone, the store will be left in Glenn's (Mark McKinney) hands as he once again becomes manager and has to navigate his team through these crazy times.
EW spoke with Superstore showrunners Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller about incorporating COVID-19 into the season, Amy's exit, and what comes next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's start with last week's episode. What was behind the decision to do a sort of time capsule episode about the early days of COVID-19 before getting into Amy's exit?
JONATHAN GREEN: There were so many things that we wanted to hit about those early days of the pandemic and the different stages. As we talked about it in the Zoom writers' room, there were so many things about those early days that we thought we could get comedy from. There were different versions we talked about where, "Okay, will the first three episodes be taking us through the early days of the pandemic and then we do a time jump before episode 4?" Then we realized this pandemic was going to be around for a while and that we could get up to real time and highlight the fog of those early months in one episode with time jumps.
Originally, America was supposed to leave last season. Then she agreed to come back for the premiere. How did you manage to get her to stick around for two episodes?
GABE MILLER: Originally we thought we could only have her for one, so we were working on trying to figure out how to do what we wanted to do with the early days of the pandemic but also satisfyingly do Amy's farewell. It felt like we weren't doing justice to either one and so we had the idea to separate them into two different episodes, and fortunately America was able to do both and interested.
GREEN: We didn't know how easy an ask it would be because she was supposed to be done with us last season. Even getting her for one, we were excited to have her back for the premiere, but the second we asked, she was on board and understood the idea behind that. I think part of it was that it would allow her to be part of the 100th episode, too, which is a real milestone for the show. We were thrilled to have her back and be part of that.
With an ensemble of this size, it's impossible for everyone to get one-on-one goodbyes. How did you decide which characters, such as Glenn, got those bigger moments?
MILLER: There were discussions about that. Because of Glenn's almost fatherly relationship with Amy through the years, we felt like we owed them a slightly more substantial scene on their own. It's hard because we wanted everyone to have moments, but we do have a big ensemble and that was one thing that led us to the goodbye video as a device, because it allowed some goodbyes with getting repetitive.
GREEN: Yeah, we didn't want to have a whole episode where it's one person after another coming up to her and saying a tearful goodbye. We wanted those moments that we did have to land. I think the sweetness of that [Glenn-Amy] relationship is why we wanted to give them their own moment.
Dina [Lauren Ash] tearing up also got me.
MILLER: Yeah it's been really interesting watching their relationship grow over the years. It's been cool to, through Amy, find the more surprising side of Dina that you don't necessarily expect when you see the character. It was nice getting to give them a special final moment.
Let's talk about the Jonah-Amy breakup. Was that a given for you all, or was there a world in which they tried long-distance?
GREEN: It is something that we discussed. Once we really got into how that would look and what we would do with that, it felt like not only would it maybe feel like a little bit of a trick that we're playing on the audience — "She's just on the other end of the phone talking to Jonah" — but also it felt like it would block off a whole side of Jonah. We wouldn't be able to do anything with Jonah in his romantic life. Not that we're getting into that right away, definitely he is hurt coming out of this breakup and it will be a while before he dates again, but it didn't seem to serve the show best to have him still dating her long-distance. But it is something that we considered and talked a lot about.
You all are now well into future episodes. What is Superstore like without Amy? Has it been different to write?
GREEN: We have such a large, talented ensemble, in a lot of ways they haven't missed a beat. It's given us a chance to explore more with the other characters and go deeper with them. Amy was the grounded center of the show, and she could react to the craziness spinning around her. Jonah always was sort of in that role with her, and he continues to be in that role as one of our more grounded characters. It's definitely an adjustment for the world of the show. The characters are also figuring what life is like without her a little bit.
Speaking of other characters, what can we expect from those stories this season?
MILLER: With Sandra [Kaliko Kauahi], we're going to be exploring her as a mom this season because she goes through the adoption process, so we'll get to see that new side of Sandra. That's been fun to write and get into.
GREEN: We'll see Dina and Garrett's [Colton Dunn] relationship sort of get a little reawakened.
MILLER: Despite the fact that she's still with the veterinarian.
GREEN: Yeah, that gets a little complicated. Carol [Irene White] is not done causing drama for the store; she's going to have a whole new way to complicate things for people.
MILLER: And Glenn is back as manager and Dina is not necessarily thrilled about that, and she will try to assert herself in different ways and it kind of leads to a new era for the store in terms of management.
And now that we're caught up to present day, COVID will remain a thing, much like it is in the real world?
GREEN: Yes, there will definitely be plenty of stories that are at least informed by COVID and the new procedures in the store and stuff like that.