Say what you will about television tropes, but they’ve become a common thread in the tapestry for a reason. Alongside bottle episodes, identity mix-ups, and average joes with insanely hot wives, the will-they-or-won’t-they couple has been a mainstay in the sitcom world for decades. While some have worked better than others — compare the adorable longevity of Ben and Leslie from Parks and Recreation with the unrealistic whiplash of Nick and Jess from New Girl — this particular type of love story continues to be a real draw for audiences. The longing glances, the errant touches, and the barely restrained jealousy are catnip for romance-starved audiences who wait with bated breath for the moment that the subtext of emotion becomes undeniable text.
Superstore had such a moment in their third season finale on Thursday when Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) finally did the deed. After over 50 episodes of banter and a handful of complicated kisses, the photogenic twosome decided to throw caution (and some rather large obstacles) to the wind and consummate their tentative relationship. Unfortunately, it happened at work and was accidentally live streamed across Cloud 9 stores worldwide, but these are season four problems. For now, we can just enjoy our faves finally being honest about their feelings. Mostly.
In true sitcom fashion, there are some genuine obstacles between these two. Amy’s pregnant with her ex-husband’s baby. Jonah just went through a breakup with Kelly (Kelly Stables). They work together, which has proven to be fraught territory for their past relationships. As satisfying as it was to see them finally hook up, one can’t help but get the feeling there will be fall out in the afterglow. Now that that initial tension is gone, the stakes are higher than ever to keep audiences invested.
However, Superstore has earned our trust at this point. While there are indeed hijinx, there is always a sense that these could be real people that you know. The stakes feel genuine — paying bills, trying to have a baby, surviving in a job that you hate — and the drama feels earned. There is always a chance that Jonah and Amy will take their “fresh start” in a new direction and decide that it’s too difficult to make things work, but I hope they take a different track.
It’s rare that a couple on a sitcom gets to stay together after they finally make their feelings apparent (Seriously, how many times did Ross and Rachel break up?), but it would be a refreshing change of pace to see a couple working together and staying together. Happy couples are often seen as the death of drama, but there are so many stories to tell about a couple that is dedicated to one other. Constant breakups can feel cheap after a while, and Cloud 9 may be a bargain shoppers dream, the emotional journeys of these characters are usually quite rich.
If Superstore wants to give viewers something new, they won’t keep the cycle of breakups and makeups going ad nauseam. Give us a couple that will put in the work that comes with a relationship. One thing that they’ve done an excellent job of building is the fact that Amy and Jonah genuinely like each other. Absolutely show the difficult moments, because Amy is pregnant with another man’s baby after all, but jerking around the audience is so played out. Yes, couples break up, but sometimes they stay together, too.
The Superstore writers obviously care about these characters, so I trust them to do right by them and their audience. But mostly I hope they do something creative. Prove the old tropes wrong. Life at Cloud 9 always seems to be better when they think outside of the box.