“Hey, when the store closes, do you want to keep hangin’ and bangin’?” Such a question would feel at home in any edgy cable comedy or Netflix’s latest conversation-starting release. Yet, you would actually find it in the final act of Superstore’s tear-jerking finale, “All Sales Final,” which aired Thursday night.
As Cloud 9, the titular fictional big box store, closes up shop — it’s destined to become an Amazon-like order fulfillment centre — its co-manager Dina (Lauren Ash) pitches the bluntly sexy inquiry to on-again, off-again love interest Garrett (Colton Dunn). Garrett is delighted by the request and demurely responds, “Yeah,” with a smile. In a flash-forward, we see Dina and Colton lovingly hanging out in a backyard with their former colleagues; the pair is, in fact, still hangin’ and bangin’, it seems.
“I think that it’s awesome that Dina was always allowed to be sexy on the show without caveats,” Ash told Refinery29 over Zoom last week. “That she was just hot and confident, and that it was never with any sort of disclaimer like, ‘Woah! Isn’t it weird that Dina’s confident and she’s that size?!’”
Dina, as Ash pointed out during the conversation, is a size 12 or 14, like the woman who plays her. Despite pop culture’s long-held obsession with women who are a size 6 or below, Dina’s size is traditionally attributed as the “most common” one in America. Recent reporting suggested the average American woman is even larger. Therefore Dina is a rarity on TV: an honest reflection of the real-life sex drives of millions of regular women across America.
“I feel great that Dina was just allowed to be sex-positive, confident, love herself, love her body, and think she’s literally the hottest human being — as she should,” Ash said. Still, Ash finds it “a little sad” that TikTok trends laud Dina as “the best'' representation for sexy plus-size women on TV. After all — Dina isn’t “plus-size,” she’s a true representation of the average modern woman, no larger. Suggesting otherwise helps skew the reality of what women actually look like in the world and enforces damaging, incorrect expectations.
“We need to just let people of all body types be in media and be sexual and confident and tell stories that are not just about what their bodies look like,” Ash said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in that department.”
The journey of Superstore’s Cheyenne has also helped expand that aim since the comedy premiered in 2015. Cheyenne, a biracial Asian-American woman, enters the series as a pregnant teen and leaves Superstore a working mom who’s still very, very into her weirdo of a husband, Bo (Johnny Pemberton). In the first half of the series finale, we see Cheyenne and Bo surveying washing machines at a liquidated price. Cheyenne gives one machine a hard knock, hops up on it while facing Bo, and mumbles, “We could, like, you know.” It’s obvious Cheyenne hopes to incorporate the appliance into her marital activities.
“That was a little improv I did,” Nichole Sakura, who brought Cheyenne to life, admitted on the Zoom call with Ash, recognizing the playful, seductive suggestion of her performance.
Sakura’s father is Catholic and her mother is Japanese. Talk of sexuality was “kind of a dirty thing” for her growing up. “It felt really liberating for me as an actress to really lean into [those conversations],” Sakura said. “It feels great to be able to play that. With what we were saying about the diversity in body types and on the show, it’s also amazing that Cheyenne’s ethnicity is not the only thing that defined her. She’s not ‘just’ an Asian woman. She’s an American gal.”
Ultimately, Sakura and Ash hope that widening of what an “American gal” looks like on TV is what stays with viewers. “Cheynne’s not always the sharpest tool in the shed. She has so many things that make her imperfect. But she’s still confident. She still loves herself,” Sakura said. “I hope that she can make other young women feel like they can be confident, in who they are, as they are.”
Ash has already received an outpouring of support from viewers saying Dina has supplied them with some much-needed confidence. “I was like, ‘It is actually kind of revolutionary that we’ve never talked about her body in any way other than that she’s hot. Period.’ It’s just never been discussed,” Ash recalled of her thinking around the second half of Superstore’s six season run. “It’s sad to me that it’s revolutionary, but it is.”
We can all hope Dina is carrying that revolution into the unseen future of Superstore with her now-classic sexy, skin tight Halloween costumes. “Listen, you and me both. You and me both, baby!” Ash agreed.