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How ‘Superstore’ Became One Of The Greatest Shows About America

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Photo Courtesy of NBC.

It's about the little guys

What television show best represents America? Is it a comedy or a drama? A thriller or a docuseries? Just like the task of naming the Great American Novel, it feels like an impossible one to tackle, but NBC's Superstore is making the question something of a no-brainer, as it's made a very convincing case for being the Great American Show of our time.

Superstore follows a group of employees who work at Cloud 9, a big box store that resembles a Walmart or Target. In a television world where people tend to have jobs that are either glamorous or heroic (or both), it feels quietly revolutionary to focus on a subset of people—blue-collar workers, but also the corporations that employ them and the consumers who visit the store—who aren't explored enough on television.

"I'm always looking for an idea that's relatable that you haven't seen a lot of and that's a very specific zone to hit," creator Justin Spitzer tells us. "It did seem like that there was a whole part of the population that worked in these stores and there's a socio-economic strata that shows don't deal with a lot. And I thought this environment is relatable to a lot of people."

These big box stores are located across the country, but Spitzer was methodical about setting Superstore in St. Louis, a city that's both cosmopolitan, has a "college town element," and is located in the Bible Belt, even if it doesn't always feel like it. "I wanted something that felt like it sampled as much of America as possible," he explains. "Right now, Missouri is a red state, but I remember at the time feeling like it kind of had all different kinds of people with different beliefs in one place. And that's really what you want to create conflict is people from various backgrounds. That's as quintessential American as made sense to me."

And that's what makes the show different from other series, like Roseanne, that centered around blue-collar families: It's actually representative of America's diversity. But it doesn't make it into a big deal, just the fact of the matter. The protagonist, Amy (America Ferrera), is Latina, but she doesn't wear her culture on her sleeve. It's mentioned and alluded to at points throughout the show, but it doesn't define who she is. This is also intentional. In fact, none of the characters written in the pilot had a specific ethnicity assigned, except for Mateo (who was initially meant to be a Mexican immigrant). Spitzer explains: "The characters all had personalities going into it, but once we cast them, the characters sort of over time changed depending on who was cast and how they decided to play it. In terms of the race, it really wasn't a show about any specific race. I never imagined them as white or brown or anything." What he ended up with, though, is a cast with a range of ethnicities, ages, sexual preferences, and body types—a reflection of who you'd find working at any store, big box or not.

We have Amy, the floor supervisor who had a baby while in high school, started working at Cloud 9 to support her family, and then never really left; Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom), the young, seven months pregnant, ditzy employee with an equally ditzy boyfriend; Mateo (Nico Santos), a gay undocumented resident with a competitive streak; Garrett (Colton Dunn), a paraplegic whose sarcasm knows no end; and Glenn (Mark McKinney), the overly nice devout Christian manager. Spitzer says he didn't intend for the show to be overtly political, but since it's about low-income workers, "inherently it's going to have some kind of social commentary about it." He says, "We always say we're not trying push any position, but it does comment on the lives of these people."

The show's touched on everything from immigration and health care to gun control and maternity leave. These are heavy and serious topics, but they're always approached in a lighthearted way. It's comedy rooted in reality without all of the depressive bits. A great example of this is the Halloween-themed episode "Costume Competition" from this season. When Glenn announces that the winner of the contest will receive a paid day off, Amy and Mateo team up to get other employees' costumes thrown out for being offensive and "objectifying cultures." It quickly spirals into an all too familiar conversation and impossible debate about appropriation versus appreciation.

Striking the balance between real and funny isn't always easy, though. Spitzer recalls one particularly tricky episode in which Mateo, afraid of his undocumented status, tries to get an "I Voted" sticker during Election Day because he doesn't want anybody to find out he's not an American citizen. "I was really struggling to do a scene where he legitimately tried to vote illegally—just like the conspiracy theorists say undocumented people do—with the joke being that it was all just for a sticker," Spitzer says. "And I thought the fact that it was so trivial and he wasn't actually going to vote either way would be enough to save that, but in the read, I think, there was a feeling like, Well, are we just playing into this conspiracy theory and these ideas of undocumented people are all lining up to vote illegally? So, we backed away from that a little bit."

There are other topics Spitzer says he wouldn't try to take on, like school shootings. "I just wouldn't want to be faced with trying to find humor in that," he explains. "I think from the get-go, we look at issues that you can have a funny take on." They're also not pulling from the news for every single episode; they try to be selective. "We don't start off with a topic and say, 'Let's find a way to explore this,'" he explains. "We'll look at breaking stories occasionally, and when it touches on something social, we'll try to explore that or sometimes we'll use a social issue as a jumping-off point in order to brainstorm on stories, but we've never sat around and said, 'Okay, we need to do a story about immigration, let's talk about immigration.'"

There's also the concern of coming across as un-PC. Spitzer wrote for The Office for a bit, which has many episodes that haven't exactly aged well (we can't see "Diversity Day," the second episode of the series, airing today without some kind of Twitter vitriol). But the hypersensitive culture that's arisen is also something Spitzer and his team have used to their advantage. He brings up this season's premiere episode which touches on Glenn not understanding the #MeToo movement, and as a result, completely mishandling a situation involving sexual harassment. "That's an area where it's a story we can do now that we couldn't do 10 years ago, and in certain ways the more easily people get offended, the more fodder we have to find stories because you get comedy out of people's fears of saying the wrong thing," Spitzer explains.

Perhaps, then, that's what makes it most clear that Superstore is a Great American Show: It doesn't need to announce itself as such, or be centered around the kind of people we're trained to think of as "heroes." As Ferrera told Vulture in an interview, "There is a small, silent revolution in pointing the camera at the common person who is not saving the world or the world's best FBI agent, but who is just getting by and finding the humor and the love and the stakes and the victories and tragedies in everyday life." And there's nothing more American than that.

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Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories

Barrettes

Bands

Bows

Clips

Ties

Ornaments

Pins

Scrunchies

Chopsticks

Twisters

Wrap

Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software

Clothing

Baby bottles

Furniture

Strollers

Beverageware

Swaddling

Blankets

Skin moisturizers

Lotions

Creams

Bubble bath

Fragrances

Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations

Puppets

Puzzles

Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers

Pillows

Mirrors

Cushions

Picture frames

Playpens

Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags

Umbrellas

Clocks

Watches

Key chains

Calendars

Books

photo albums

Stationery

Stickers

Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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