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Superstore season 4 finale: The showrunner explains a huge episode

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Major spoilers follow for the season four finale of Superstore.

The last 10 minutes of Superstore’s season four finale, “Employee Appreciation Day” are unlike anything else the show has ever done. The corporate offices of the Cloud 9 chain of Wal-Mart-esque department stores, in an attempt to quash talk of unionizing at the location where the series is set, call in ICE. And when officers raid the store, Mateo (Nico Santos), an undocumented Filipino immigrant, is on the clock. Though his coworkers try to help him evade the officers, he’s caught and taken away.

What’s amazing about “Employee Appreciation Day” is how many different tones the episode blends. The moments in which Mateo, Amy, and Cheyenne race through the aisles of the store while Dina uses security cameras to track the ICE agents have the feel of The Bourne Identity. There’s a big group scene set in the store’s warehouse, which offers some of Superstore’s signature comedy. And the inherent idea that one of the team members could be detained or worse is very dramatic.

And that’s before you get to Amy and Jonah’s shared desire to make sure the union happens.

It’s a big, big swing for what is ultimately a pretty sprightly sitcom. But it also marks Justin Spitzer’s final episode as showrunner. Spitzer, who created Superstore, will be stepping into a consulting role for future seasons, and handing the reins to the series’ other two showrunners, Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller.

It’s not a rancorous departure, but it’s definitely one where Spitzer (who wrote this finale) leaves Green and Miller with a lot of story to untangle when season five begins.

So I wanted to ask him just where the idea for “Employee Appreciation Day” came from, what he’s thinking about as he steps back from running the show, and how Superstore might find new ways to bring conflict to the Jonah and Amy relationship. Our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.

Todd VanDerWerff

What was the origin of the idea to end the season with an ICE raid and Mateo being taken away? This TV, so he probably won’t be deported, but getting out of that story is going to be a lot of work.

Justin Spitzer

I don’t think that he would necessarily be deported. In fact, we had originally intended to [tell that story] earlier in the season, and as we were talking about it, we made sure that we had ways to keep him within the world of our show. I know fans will probably see this and figure, oh Mateo is deported. But he is detained, and there is a process to fighting that.

In terms of the decision to do it, it was something that we had in the back of our minds for a while. Mateo’s undocumented storyline, that arc is interesting, but we felt like it was boring to do yet more stories about — Mateo is scared he’s going to be found out. Mateo can’t do something because he’s undocumented. This was the thing that was hanging over him all this time, and it felt like, let’s just see what happens when it actually hits.

The same way, at the end of season two, you’ve got this tornado, and it could pass by the store and nothing happens. Okay, instead, let’s see what happens when the tornado actually hits.


Superstore

Mateo is in trouble as season four ends.
Tyler Golden/NBC

Todd VanDerWerff

You obviously don’t know how this story is going to shake out going forward, but did you have conversations about what the ramifications would be? You have to keep making Superstore. You have to keep making the sitcom. But this is the sort of thing that has a ripple effect for every single character. Mateo, yes, but also, like, Amy, who’s now upset with corporate. And it has an effect on all of Mateo’s friends too.

Justin Spitzer

That’s tricky, because I know how we talked about [the story proceeding] midseason, but I don’t want to say anything that commits Gabe or Jonathan to anything or imply that they are going to do it in a different way.

It’s a giant change for [Mateo]. It changes our characters too because they have to deal with it, and also the talk of unions will change our characters too. At the end of the [episode], Amy says to Jonah, “What to start a union?” That has a big throw forward to the future.

I don’t anticipate that we are going to be spending whole episodes at the State Department or embassies or anything like that. I imagine that Mateo would not be deported. We’ll have to figure out how he is still part of the world, but the show continues in a slightly new way. But that is worthwhile for a show that has done 77 episodes. We didn’t have a lot more Mother’s Day stories to tell. This will be good. This is a new place to find a story.

Todd VanDerWerff

Did you do research into actual ICE raids to figure out how this sort of thing might happen?

Justin Spitzer

Yes we did. We talked to Define American, which is an advocacy group for undocumented people. We called a public relations person at ICE to ask him how various raids might go down. For instance, the uniforms would not say ICE. They say HSI. There’s different ways these raids could [go], but we wanted to make sure it was in the realm of believability.

Todd VanDerWerff

This is weird to think about, but the finale expands Superstore’s mythology in a way. You see the corporate leaders who are making all these decisions that the characters have had to deal with all this time.

Justin Spitzer

In all shows, the world slowly expands. Whether it’s The Simpsons or Parks and Rec, you need more and more people. With us, we met the [Cloud 9] CEO in the season three finale. We went to a managers’ conference midway through this season. We finally got to see what corporate looks like in the second-to-last episode and the last episode. That just sort of felt like the natural progression of the show. I don’t imagine we will spend a lot of time at corporate going forward, but it felt important to establish it.

Todd VanDerWerff

It felt like the meeting the Others on Lost to me, honestly.

Justin Spitzer

[laughs] That’s a good thing. Yes.

Todd VanDerWerff

For a while, “Employee Appreciation Day” also hints that it might break Jonah and Amy up, over their fight about the union. But by the end, they’re drawn together more strongly. Tell me about plotting that relationship.

Justin Spitzer

We originally talked about drawing out that conflict over more episodes. Not using [the union] to break them up but using it to create some tension that felt real, but wasn’t tension about whether they were going to stay together or get married, which it felt like we didn’t want to go toward yet.

Over the course of breaking the season, we really didn’t have that many episodes left, and it felt like we still wanted them to have a little bit of that tension, which then gets shattered when they learn what corporate is doing.

So much of comedy comes from conflict. It’s great when you have conflict between your central characters, and it is always tricky to find ways to have conflict where one character is not just wrong or stupid, where you can identify with both characters. [The union fight] felt like that kind of conflict.

Todd VanDerWerff

It’s placing Amy in conflict with herself, too. She started out on the floor, and something like ICE coming into her store is against her values. But we’ve also seen just how much she likes being the manager. I’m interested in how you view her journey — especially having been on a similar journey yourself, going from a staff writer on other shows to now being in charge of one.

Justin Spitzer

Amy does fight for her co-workers. As soon as she learns that ICE is coming, there is no question that she is on the side of the workers. That’s a bridge too far, and that is the thing that makes her say, “Yes, I am really happy being manager but this is more important. I’m going to give that up.” That is kind of the hero’s journey, when you are comfortable giving up that comfort because there is something greater that you are striving for.

Before [the raid], that is where things get a little complicated and real. She does believe in unions. She does stand by the workers. She’s not super pro-corporate. But she’s put into a situation where it truly looks like there is no point in unionizing because they’re going to shut down the store.

Is she going to stand by and fight this losing battle and give everything up in the fighting of it? Or is she going to do what feels like it makes the most sense both for her and for the workers but potentially compromises her values? Amy’s arc over the show is that she’s gone from someone who was a little more accepting of her lot in life [to someone who’s] learned that she’s a fighter and there are things worth fighting for. Now, it’s figuring out what is the thing that’s worth fighting for. I think in this episode, her priorities change.


Superstore

Amy and Cheyenne work to help Mateo escape the store.
Tyler Golden/NBC

Todd VanDerWerff

Using your set for an action sequence — which sees Mateo and the others running from the ICE agents through the store’s aisles, while Dina shouts instructions at them as she watches the security cameras — was really smart. How did you put that all together? And how did you write it to align with the geography of the store?

Justin Spitzer

We don’t do a lot of big action sequences, so it took some figuring out. We are a show that doesn’t move our camera very much. We’re very static in a lot of ways, so when you have a scene with that kind of dynamism, it changes things.

As for the geography, I don’t think most of our viewers are particularly aware of the geography of the store in terms of what aisle is what. In fact, they couldn’t be, because we change it all the time. We move around the store. There is no true geography. As long as you were seeing it in parts and you see them running past different aisles, you get the sense of it. We didn’t try too hard to ask, what’s the path he follows?

It’s not the kind of writing I am used to, where you look at your page, and your action lines are so much longer than your bits of dialogue. The trick, just like the trick with our show in a lot of ways, is to shoot the hell out of it and make sure to get lots of on-set moments and improv, and then figure it out [in the editing room].

Todd VanDerWerff

You really bring back essentially every major character in this episode. I think only Amy’s ex and daughter are missing.

Justin Spitzer

Them and Jerusha, I really wanted to bring them back, and we couldn’t for one reason or another. That’s my regret in this episode.

It’s funny, one piece of bringing everyone back wasn’t on purpose, but it was my last episode as showrunner, so I was excited to bring back as many of our people as possible for it. It’s like my own finale, so that felt really good.

But they are just all so great. Bo is such a funny character, Kelly is so funny, the actors are phenomenal. If we had the budget and space on set, I’d want them all to be regulars. This story felt like a good one that they would all have something to contribute to.

Todd VanDerWerff

What prompted your decision to step down as showrunner?

Justin Spitzer

It’s really two things. On, is a desire to start thinking about a few other projects, some things I have been excited to develop. The other one is just to be home a little more. My wife [Jenna Bans] runs Good Girls on NBC and really does the lion’s share of raising our children. That didn’t really feel fair. I want to be able to help out at home more, and I feel confident that the show is in good hands.

You spend a while when you have a new show trying to figure out, “What is this show? What do we do well? What don’t we do well?” It finally just felt like, okay, we have the formula, and other people can run with it.

I’m excited to see what they are going to do with it. In terms of the creation of Superstore’s DNA, it felt like that was done.

Todd VanDerWerff

You did leave them with a pretty significant cliffhanger to resolve.

Justin Spitzer

Yes, that was our ongoing joke in the room. I painted them into the tightest corner of all time and then dropped the mic and got out of town.

Superstore airs Thursdays at 8 pm Eastern on NBC. The first four seasons are available on Hulu. Season five will air in the fall. I promise you that you’ll like this show if you watch it.

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Digital Trends Live – 7.10.19 – Nintendo Switch Lite Confirmed + India May Ban Cryptocurrencies

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On today’s episode: Nintendo officially announced the much rumored Switch Lite; WarnerMedia makes HBO Max official, launching with Friends in 2020; India to ban cryptocurrencies – could impact Facebook’s Libra; team sets out to topple the land speed record; Overtock.com President joins to talk about their new A.R. feature; The best CPUs and GPUs on the market; Passwords vulnerability discussion with Keeper Security CEO; If you make a ton of PPT decks, you likely need a CMS – Shufflrr has you covered; Gaming Editor Felicia Miranda takes the cover off the Switch Lite and the best Prime Day deals to watch out for.

View at DailyMotion

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25 Users Showed How Different Instagram Is From Reality, and It Can Make You Way More Confident

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According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Instagram is the most harmful social media for psychological health. Every day, we are disappointed when we start comparing our lives to the photos online without even thinking about how these perfect pictures were created. Fortunately, there are users who are ready to reveal what their lives look like without photoshop and filters.

Bright Side is happy to show the photos that will not only give you confidence, but will also improve your mood.

Before and after taken about 30 seconds apart

Nobody looks good in the morning.

Everything depends on the angle.

Trash looks bad no matter where it is.

“I love taking photos on the beach.”

It’s not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram. The locals would be amazed to see the photo on the left.

Each successful photo actually means there were hundreds of failed attempts.

The photos I share vs The photos I’m tagged in

A black eye given by a unicorn

It appears that the rainbow is fake.

This is what’s behind a perfect life.

It’s always like this.

If people posted their real photos from the gym

10 minutes after cleaning and 10 hours later

Mud baths are attractive.

Behind the stage of perfect photo

Just imagine what the process looked like.

On hot days, you really need water-resistant makeup.

Before the party / after the party

When you are too hungry to arrange the food in a beautiful way:

This is the same girl.

There is something wrong with this photo.

Some people look like aliens in their photos.

It should be prohibited to tag people in photos.

Instagram vs Real-life motherhood

Do you prefer to post real or idealized photos?

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10 Powerful Sculptures That Tell a Story Better Than Any Novel Could

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We often take sculptures that surround us for granted, thinking that their only message is the one in plain sight. But it turns out that many of them have a deeper meaning like an angel that is made of weapons given up by those who never want to commit crimes again or a group of ginormous figures that tell us how a new life is born. Sculptures have a whole lot of good stories to share if you’re willing to listen.

Come with Bright Side on a little journey around the globe to see 10 eloquent monuments and sculptures and learn the stories behind them.

1. Knife Angel by Alfie Bradley has persuaded hundreds of people to give up violence.

Alfie Bradley created this breathtaking 27-foot-high angel made of more than 100,000 knives. These weapons were surrendered to knife bins around the UK and were collected by the UK police, knife crime charities, action groups and other people who were affected by knife crimes in one way or another. The Knife Angel travels around the UK to educate people on how important the problem of knife crime is and how dangerous these weapons are. You can learn more about The Knife Angel, the process of its creation, and its current locations here.

2. The Passer-Through-Walls by Jean Marais illustrates the final scene from a famous French novel.

Le Passe-Muraille is a French novel by Marcel Aymé that tells the story of a modest office worker who one day discovers that he has a superpower — he can walk through walls! The hero uses his gift to the fullest to solve problems and becomes a burglar, gets into prison, and escapes until one day he loses his power right on his way through a wall and gets stuck in it. This monument is also quite interactive — the man’s hands are polished by thousands of people who try to help him get out of the wall.

3. Building Bridges by Lorenzo Quinn shares a recipe for a better world.

How do we make our world a better place to live in? Friendship, wisdom, help, faith, hope, and love — these are the ingredients to a better world and happier people according to Lorenzo Quinn, a famous Italian artist. These 6 virtues are embodied in the 6 pairs of hands that build a bridge together. This is one of the latest works by Quinn that was built for 2019’s Venice Art Biennale.

4. Corporate Head by Terry Allen tells us about the danger of being focused on profit at all costs.

The impressive life-sized bronze sculpture of a man who has buried his head in the building resides in Los Angeles, California in the US. The sculpture embodies a businessman who has devoted all his life to gaining profit for himself and the company he works for. He is separated from the office building only from his neck down, which means his thoughts have been completely absorbed by the establishment he works for.

The sculpture illustrates the modern pace of life where people have to carry an economic burden and spend their whole lives working in businesses, often missing out on things that are way more important than material wealth.

5. Sphere Within a Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro reminds us of how fragile our planet is.

This wonderful statue mesmerizes viewers with a complex structure of fractured spheres — the outer one and the inner one — and numerous intricate gears inside. The artist, Arnaldo Pomodoro, liked to study simple geometrical forms in his work and managed to hide deep meaning behind those simple forms. The Sphere Within a Sphere once again reminds us how everything in the universe is interconnected, how fragile our world is, and how easily it can be broken into pieces.

6. The Man Who Measures the Clouds by Jan Fabre speaks about the struggles of measuring the immeasurable.

This unique artwork with the gold leaf finishing touch is part of 2019’s Venice Art Biennale and it shows viewers a man rising to a height of 29.5 feet (9 meters) and trying to measure the clouds with a ruler. This sculpture can be interpreted as a person’s desperate attempt to make the impossible possible, as our never-ending striving to surpass ourselves as mankind, or as a nod to ancient philosophy that thought that human beings were the measure of all things.

7. Inertia and The Bankers by Jason Decaires Taylor tackle social issues and call for our responsibility.

The Bankers, Inertia and other marvelous underwater sculptures by Jason Decaires Taylor reveal the most acute problems of modern society, like being obsessed with material wealth and being exposed to mass media’s influence. But apart from that, these unbelievable works serve as homes for coral that are on the verge of extinction in many regions of our planet. By placing his masterpieces underwater in Mexico, the Bahamas, and other places, the artist tries to attract more attention to global climate changes and the things we can do to protect the earth.

8. Absorbed by Light by Gali Lucas and Karoline Hinz honestly tell us how obsessed we’ve become with gadgets and technology.

3 people sitting on a bench, absorbed by their smartphones so much so that they don’t even notice each other. What could illustrate our era better? The installation that was part of the Amsterdam Light Festival symbolizes how modern technology connects and disconnects us at the same time. When you walk at night next time, look around and you’ll see the same picture — dozens of people all around with their faces lit up by their mobile phones. We actually are absorbed by these lights, aren’t we?

9. Trains to Life — Trains to Death by Frank Meisler commemorates children whose lives were saved and taken during the Holocaust.

The impressive work by Frank Meisler is located in Berlin, Germany, and it has 2 parts — 5 figures of boys and girls in dark bronze on one side, and a boy and a girl made of light bronze on the other side. The kids in these 2 parts of the monument gaze into different directions and symbolize 2 different outcomes that awaited children during the Holocaust. The group of 5 figures commemorates the 1.6 million Jewish kids that were sent to concentration camps and were killed, while 2 other kids pay tribute to those 10,000 children that were saved and transported to England.

10. The Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst shows the stages of a baby’s growth in the womb.

This amazing monument located outside the Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha, Qatar, consists of 14 large-scale bronze sculptures, each of them showing a stage of an embryo’s growth in the womb from conception to birth. Being extremely explicit and bold, The Miraculous Journey evoked controversial feelings in the eastern audience and was even covered from public view for some time.

Here’s what Damien Hirst, the creator of the monument said about the ideas he addressed in his work: “Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life. I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”

Which of these monuments would you like to see with your own eyes? Can you share with us a picture of a sculpture or a monument that impressed you?

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