Superstore fans were stunned at the end of February when it was announced that star and executive producer America Ferrera would be leaving the show once Season 5 wrapped up. The underrated workplace comedy about a group of employees at a fictional big box store had already been renewed for Season 6 by NBC, so audiences were left wondering how the show would continue without Ferrera, and how her character, Amy, would be written off. Ferrera's co-star Ben Feldman, who plays Amy's co-worker and boyfriend Jonah, admits that the writers were left "scrambling" after the announcement.
Feldman spoke to TVLine recently about how he heard that America Ferrera was leaving Superstore, and what it was like behind the scenes when the news became public. Fans of the show will know that there haven't been any clear indications that Amy would be moving on from Cloud 9 (or Jonah, for that matter), so it shouldn't be any surprise that the writers were left in a difficult spot when they realized they'd need to craft an out for Ferrera's character.
The writers were scrambling to reverse course, or at least guide the show in a specific direction. They were not writing [towards her exit] in the beginning [of the season]. Fortunately, there were certain elements of what they’ve been building towards that aligned in kind of a lateral way with what they ultimately ended up [doing], so it wasn’t like they suddenly had to rewrite or change everything. In fact, in sort of a coincidental way, some things kind of really worked out for us.
As Ben Felman noted in his interview, the writers had not been preparing viewers for Amy's departure, so they had to quickly figure out a way to make the storyline they were heading toward work in that way. Fortunately, part of their original plan was able to be dovetailed into such a story, so it won't come completely out of left field when Amy leaves Cloud 9.
Amy was able to become store manager in Season 4, after not only getting some training from corporate and former store manager Glenn, but blackmailing their district manager Laurie, after Amy caught her snorting cocaine at work. Even though Amy has been working at the store for almost two decades, she hasn't had the easiest time handling her former co-workers becoming her subordinates and the challenges of running the store under a comically shady and somewhat abusive corporate structure. I wouldn't be surprised if dealing with these issues leads Amy to take another path and abandon her work at Cloud 9.
Unfortunately, a major drawback to America Ferrera leaving Superstore will be the ending of the slow burn relationship between Amy and Jonah. The two were attracted to each other from the beginning of the series, but had to overcome several very real problems before getting finally together at the end of Season 3 and making their relationship public later in the following season. As a fan of the show himself, Ben Feldman knows that Ferrera's departure will really hit home with those who love seeing Amy and Jonah together:
It’s sad to think about it [as it applies to Jonah and Amy], not when I think about [it] as Ben and America. You know, this is a job. Everybody’s doing a job and people show up to work and people leave work and whatever… I’m [still] going to be texting America about kids stuff in two months and in two years. But when I think about the two characters… it’s a little melancholy and kind of sad [because it’s the] end to that romance — or, potentially, just a new version of that romance. It’s an end to watching them together, which is a sad thing.
Ultimately, fans won't get to see Amy and America Ferrera say goodbye to Superstore just yet. The show had to shut down production (along with many, many other series) recently and won't be filming the previously planned Season 5 finale. So, hopefully, this means we'll get their proper sendoff (along with some alone time for Amy and Ben Feldman's Jonah) when Season 6 starts.
Superstore is still airing new episodes on NBC, Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST, and to see what else you can watch right now check out our 2020 midseason guide!