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Superstore has its first wedding episode, and the awkwardness is dialed to new heights

America Ferrara, Nichole Bloom, Johnny Pemberton (Image: NBC)
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Given how closely the DNA of The Office is intertwined with that of Superstore, the fact that the season’s penultimate episode was titled “Cheyenne’s Wedding” built up a lot of expectations. The three wedding-centric episodes of The Office—Phyllis’s Wedding,” “Niagara,” and “Finale”—were all episodes with standout moments that perfectly understood how to use the trope. They understood the inherent comedy in bringing everyone together on a day when emotions run rampant, how the obligation for a day like this to be perfect can create an atmosphere that enhances already tense situations. (Also, the importance of the badly timed/perfectly timed wedding dance.)

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“Cheyenne’s Wedding” understands these aspects as well, and uses the nuptials of Bilbo Derek Thompson and Cheyenne Tyler Lee as the backdrop for several long-simmering narratives. However, they may have taken one too many cues from their spiritual successor, as the episode spends much of its run time in full-blown cringe comedy mode. While Superstore has never shied away from awkwardness as a source of humor, this ramps it up to newer levels in a way that feels out of keeping with the show’s more laid-back sensibilities. It also doesn’t help that to get there, several of the characters wind up acting like they’re dumber or worse people than they actually are.

The actual wedding itself is largely free of tension, albeit pulling a bait-and-switch on the audience when it looks like Bo’s about to back out—only to segue into a performance by the bride and groom and Minister Funkakhan. While last week’s comments were short on love for Bo, there’s still a sweetness to seeing them rap their vows and in their closeness on the dance floor. Yes, they’re too young and too dumb to get married, but their youth and dumbness meshes well together, and there’s no uncertainty or fear in their actions. It’s almost a shame that the rap cuts to commercial as early as it does, there was potential for true craziness there.

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Mark McKinney, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos (Image: NBC)

While we’re there to see Cheyenne and Bo get married, the real couple of interest is Amy and Adam, making their first joint appearance since Amy’s marital troubles became common knowledge at Cloud 9. Jonah, trying so hard not to make things uncomfortable with Adam and Amy and be “super cas,” is instead acting like a crazy person in a way that’s difficult to watch. He does everything to prove he’s enthusiastically “Team Adam,” violently steers away from any suggestion that Amy is pretty, and alternates between forgetting about Kristen and freaking her out. Small wonder that Kristen decides by the end of the night she wants to take a break from him, because the reactions neatly mirror my own. (And if this is the only use that Superstore is able to get out of Brenda Song, it’s a shame.)

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Amy’s reactions of the day are much better executed, largely because they’re in keeping with her behaviors: her protectiveness of Cheyenne as a way of compensating for her own past mistakes, and the way she falls apart when she finally can’t hold things together any longer. Powered by stress and Pink Cheyennes (Code Red, vodka, and 13 cherries), she gives a bridesmaid speech that turns into an indictment of her own situation, digging her hole deeper and throwing the dirt in Adam’s face to boot. It gives us more of a look into their marriage than we’ve ever gotten outside the Cloud 9 worldview, and the regrets and hurt feelings are on full display.

Both characters get their redemption when they find each other outside of the wedding, and Amy admits to him what she couldn’t even admit to herself. Say what you will about the necessity of this show having a will-they/won’t-they component, there’s no denying that America Ferrara and Ben Feldman have great chemistry together, and their mixed conversations of honesty and casual insults makes it clear why the rest of Cloud 9 sees in them what Adam’s starting to see too. And the way that Jonah screws it up hits better than any of his previous screw-ups: no exaggeration or deflection, he’s just trying to to pay her honest compliments and in the process becomes too honest in the worst way.

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Ben Feldman, America Ferrara (Image: NBC)

Elsewhere, Glenn’s still freaking out about the impending layoffs in Cloud 9, and decides the solution to the problem is to invite Jeff to the wedding. Again, while in keeping with Glenn’s proven behavior of being overly protective of his employees, it crosses a line as he decides that the only approach is to show how bad their lives are and how their shitty jobs are the only thing they have. It’s also a little disappointing that Jeff, proven to be a relatively savvy manager, never picks up on what’s going on and asks Glenn to cut it out, he’s just reluctantly batted around and burdened with Harmonica for the majority of the evening. (Though the latter does lead to a pretty great confrontation with Mateo, balancing his hurt feelings with affection for the baby and fear of waking her up.)

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It’s not as bad of a decision as Cheyenne agreeing to let Dina be a bridesmaid, and she goes full Bridesmaidzilla”: leaning into photos, farming for embarrassing stories and jokes, and determined to be the most supportive member of the team. (“I filled my purse with muscle relaxants and anti-flatulence meds. And if you need to puke, use the purse.”) Keeping with the Office parallels, while most of Dina’s confidence bordering on insanity puts her in the same category as Dwight, her attention-seeking behavior here takes her to straight-up Michael Scott territory. We’ve seen suggestions of Dina being uncomfortable in these situations, like her admission to not having many female friends in “Ladies Lunch,” but it lacks that extra dimension we know the character has.

What ultimately causes the most problems in the lunacy surrounding “Cheyenne’s Wedding” is that despite her name in the title and the day being hers to celebrate, Cheyenne’s not much of a player in the event. While she’s by and large the most passive member of Cloud 9—witness her getting drafted into being a cashier while on maternity leave in “Back To Work”—it still feels wrong that she never has any sort of backlash to Glenn telling Jeff she’s one layoff away from prostitution or Dina dragging her to the bathroom because it’s more convenient for her in that moment. The episode is missing the moment where she either screams or cries at others for their selfishness, and while that sort of moment is cliché, cutting it out means there’s no moment of awareness and redemption.

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Chris Grace, Kaliko Kauahi (Image: NBC)

But maybe the rockiness of some of these beats is because the real love story of the episode is Sandra and Jerry. Sandra’s male equivalent from “Ladies Lunch” returns, now shackled to Carol and her strawberry vape pen. (Carol is a cartoonishly horrible person all episode, but as a tertiary character she can get away with it in a way the main ensemble can’t.) The repeated framings of Sandra left alone have a pitch perfect resonance of loneliness, playing her doormat status without any effort for laughs—particularly the later shot of her eating cake in the stairwell. And the moment where Jerry makes a grand gesture and then pauses to ask if that gesture is okay is perfect, somehow even more romantic than the wedding we’re all here to attend. “Cheyenne’s Wedding” leaves a lot of issues still on the table for next week’s finale, but amidst all the crisis, it’s good to see there’s one happy ending.

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Stray observations:

  • Amy’s nametag: Hailey.
  • Confession: Having forgotten the character’s name after his first appearance, I only referred to Jerry as “Mandra” in my notes until the end credits. And you know that wherever he works, he gets a “Damn it, Jerry!” from his coworkers on a daily basis.
  • Question: do you think Dina has seen Bridesmaids, or only saw a poster/trailer and extrapolated her view of bridesmaid duties from that?
  • Colton Dunn and I had the exact same look on our faces when the wedding guest urged him to stand up when Cheyenne began her walk to the altar.
  • Bo is entirely courteous with his friends and older relatives—even the ones who think he’s a lesbian—and Cheyenne is revealed to be bilingual. They contain multitudes!
  • Of course Garrett can’t keep away from the microphone, and can’t keep a “Thank you for shopping at Cloud 9” from slipping out in between dictating which table visits the buffet next. Less endearing, Garrett’s encouragement of Glenn inviting Jeff to the wedding. I get that Garrett enjoys watching disasters play out at work, but at a friend’s wedding? Dick move.
  • Dina won one of Nancy Pelosi’s pantsuits at an auction. This feels entirely in keeping with her character, regardless of her politics.
  • “What am I supposed to wear to your wedding? The invite just said ‘not basic.’”
  • “I mean, my sister is just so ugly.”
  • “Yo, keep this girl away from the ocean! That’s where all the shrimps at.”
  • “I’m sorry I’m wearing shorts, I was at a Frisbee golf thing.”
  • “Attention wedding guests, particularly Bo’s friends, just because I am a DJ doesn’t mean I am carrying Molly. So please stop asking.”
  • “Shoutout to Boonesville Correctional Facility for letting my mom Skype in during the ceremony!”
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