Diversity was the key topic during the Superstore presentation at the Television Critics Association winter previews on Wednesday. The new NBC comedy features a multiethnic cast of characters working the grind at a Wal-Mart-like shopping center.
Superstore creator Justin Spitzer says that while the show is proud of its wide range of characters, it wasn't the primary goal whem casting the show. "The driving concept was a relatable work place show with people from different backgrounds, but not necessarily people with different racial backgrounds," he said. "We just set out to cast the best people. They are different colors and that's great."
The casting of the show was something that series lead America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) noticed right away. "I was so taken by how the script hadn't been written with the characters' ethnicity predetermined," she said. "They went out and cast the best people for the role. Personally speaking, this is the first role in my career that wasn't written Latina."
Superstore is one of many new shows this television season that is making an effort to have its cast more accurately reflect the diverse world we live in. As more shows broaden their casting horizons, it becomes more important to use the cast members' backgrounds to deepen the story and characters instead of having people of color there just to meet a new diversity standard.
"The more we talk about [diversity] succeeding, the more we talk about how people are hungry to see stories like this — not necessarily to check their diversity boxes but to say 'Hey, that's us and that world looks like the world we live in,'" Ferrera said.
In Superstore's case, they're using their mix of different races, sexualities and socioeconomic statuses to allow them to make commentary on issues that directly affect those groups. "It's about diversity, so it enriches the storytelling," Ferrera continued. "We can make jokes about Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter... and it's not, 'This is a very special episode about Planned Parenthood.' It's just this is the reality when you have this many people from all these different walks of life in one place."
Superstore airs Mondays at 8/7c on NBC.