Small spoilers appear in some descriptions of the shows
Fans of “The Office” will love “Superstore.” While “Parks and Recreation” is often suggested as an alternative to “The Office,” I’d argue that “"Superstore"” is a much closer match and will quench any thirst for a good slice of life show. Unlike “Parks and Recreation,” “"Superstore"” captures more of the dry, humdrum humor of The Office.
"Superstore" follows the antics of the fictitious “Cloud 9” store, managed by fumbling but well-intentioned Glenn, balanced out by stalwart Amy who got married too early and has many unfulfilled ambitions. Following Amy is love interest Jonah, who has the references of Oscar from “The Office,” the charisma of Jim and heart of Pam.
Like “The Office,” the supporting cast sometimes overshadows the main cast, such as Marcus from the warehouse who starts a business producing cheese made from breast milk, and Sayid, a refugee from Syria who is not afraid to give a snappy one-liner or two.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the great characters from "Superstore"!
My mom and friends judge me heavily for watching this show, but I don’t care because “Jersey Shore” is an iconic example of the early 2000s. Part of Jersey Shore’s charm is the cast; unlike more recent reality shows with scripts and re-done scenes, Jersey Shore is organic.
According to showrunner Snooki, “I wish I could say it was scripted to tell my kids that but it was all real because we are/were drunk.”
The realness is evident with “Jersey Shore,” as characters can fight over things like making fun of someone’s big toe. Watching the show, it is satisfying to know that each reaction is real and not super fabricated by producers behind-the-scenes.
It is easy to judge reality shows, but the point of reality shows is obviously not educational — it is all in good fun and that is the mindset you should have when going into shows like “Jersey Shore.”
There is an everyday appeal to the cast, normal people plucked to a beach house all with real struggles and relationships. They are not disconnected from reality or (at least in the initial seasons) are not fabulously rich TV personalities.
Please Like Me
It took me a while to realize that the characters were not British, but instead Australian. “Please Like Me” follows Josh, a bumbling young adult who, in addition to discovering his sexuality, grapples with having a family member who is mentally ill. The show addresses mental health in a very realistic way — it is not romanticized at all. It is an honest depiction of how a family deals with mental health and how depression is not a “one pill fits all solution.”
Josh’s mother, in the first few episodes, is recovering from a suicide attempt. We see how Josh’s father, who although is divorced from his mother, constantly worries about his ex-wife,her wellbeing and its effect on his new relationship.
We see Josh having to move in with his mother to look after her. We see his mother sporadically burst into tears, and we see her bouts of mania as well when she jumps from refusing to take medications after a high, and then crumbling down soon afterwards.
The scenes are incredibly vulnerable and can be hard to stomach, but are important in bridging misconceptions of mental health in the public.
Josh is an insanely relatable character as well — an adult who, like many of us, doesn’t have it all figured out yet.
Little Fires Everywhere
“Little Fires Everywhere,” based on the novel by Celeste Ng, delves in the complex and interconnected lives of two mothers. The show is all about revealing the subtleties and nuances of race relations, class differences and the experience of being a woman in the 1990s.
We have Elena, a white upper-class mother with a seemingly perfect life contrasted with Mia, who is an African-American artist that moves around frequently with her only daughter.
“Little Fires Everywhere” is a show that makes you think deeply. You cannot take a single line in the show at surface-level — each line encompasses different schools of thought as to how we look at certain things in society.
The nuances of race are handled very well and gives insight into a more current racial climate. Certain nuances are lost on characters who do not realize how their actions may be perceived as racist.
Meanwhile, class differences are tackled when we see how different individuals in society — rich and poor, immigrants and what not, interconnect with each other.
There is one jarring line in the show that sumises the class difference well — Elena’s husband’s remark that people like Bebe Chow, an immigrant who entered illegally and is a waitress, do not “win”.
Motherhood is tackled as well, with the storyline of an adoptive mother attempting to regain the rights of a baby she gave up who is now in the care of a more stable, well-off couple. The show challenges the question of what is “enough” in providing for children, and explores the universality of motherhood — how compared to Elena, Mia, a single mother, struggled more — but to what extent does this diminish the struggles of Elena?
Unfortunately, this show is a one-season-wonder, so don’t get too attached. “Sunnyside” follows Garrett Modi, a disgraced politician who tutors a group of immigrants to help them obtain citizenship.
The show has awesome one-liners and a seriously charismatic cast that bounces dialogue off each other effortlessly. It takes on more of the dry-humor from “The Office” and also has a lot of heartfelt moments. What I felt that was groundbreaking about this show was the diverse way it portrayed the immigrant experience.
We have Griselda, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who works an unreasonable amount of jobs to make ends meet.
We have Hakim, an immigrant from Ethiopia who gives up his job as a cardiothoracic surgeon in his home country to become a taxi driver in America, knowing the way to practice medicine again in his new country is a long road ahead.
We have Brady, a seemingly all-American character who is a DACA recipient. He keeps his DACA status a secret from his friends and, while on the outside lives an average American life, grapples with the limitations of his status, learning to reconcile with his Eastern European culture.
Finally, we have siblings Mei Lin and Jun Ho, offspring of wealthy Chinese immigrants who provide immense comedic relief.
Aside from the immigrant experience, the show briefly touches on the disillusionment in politics and is reminiscent of Parks and Recreation with its theme of the small, everyday community victories.