Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.
Garrett McNeil, played by Colton Dunn, is the sarcastic and sanest character on NBC’s hit show Superstore. Wheelchair bound, Garrett doesn’t disclose what led to his being confined to a wheelchair. He can be cynical and petty, and when someone suggests a terrible idea, he is the first person to encourage them to act out the bad idea, as he sabotages them along the way. Being the only Black male main character on the show, one would expect Garrett to be more than what he is: A Black man who actively participates in the disenfranchisement or dislike of other Black people.
On Season 03 Episode 18 “Local Vendors Day”, Garrett samples a Black woman vendor’s ale. After a few sips, he says her ale tastes like Bud Light. She denies using Bud Light. Throughout the episode, Garrett pressures the woman to reveal the origins of her ale. When she won’t admit she uses Bud Light, Garrett loudly tells her potential customers that the woman is selling re-labeled Bud Light. To save her business, the vendor pulls Garrett aside and admits she buys Bud Light wholesale and sells it under her own private label.
Garrett’s handling of the ale situation with the Black woman vendor was poor and unnecessary. Out of pure selfishness, Garrett attempts to expose a Black woman doing the exact same thing many companies do: sell brand name products under their own private label. By telling other potential customers the vendor’s secret ingredient, Garrett threatens her livelihood. To be fair, Garrett did ask the vendor out after she admitted she was using Bud Light, so one could argue Garrett used this attack on her business to have a reason to connect with her.
On Season 03 Episode 04 “Workplace Bullying”, Jonah walks in on a thief robbing the store’s safe. Jonah freezes, but Dina catches the robber. In the aftermath of the robbery, Garrett suggests to Glenn, the store manager, that Glenn should fire the security guard (who’s Black), who should have been there to stop the robbery. Due to being late to work, the security guard, should be fired.
The call to fire the security guard could have come from anyone. Glenn is the store manager, and if he wanted to fire the security guard, it would have been at his discretion. One could argue that Garrett was simply looking out for the store and the safety of his coworkers. However, that is not Garrett’s nature. Maybe the security guard should have done his job better. However, Garrett is not a supervisor. He does not have insight into the security guard’s personal life or what led to his being late to work the morning of the robbery.
Furthermore, Garrett is seen as the cool person in the store. Although his advice usually comes from a place of wanting to make things worse for the advice seeker, his coworkers feel comfortable asking for his guidance or opening up to him. When Erick, played by Phil LaMarr, visits the store, Garrett is stuck between awe and envy. Erick is a video game voice artist, who has voiced a number of popular games, and Garrett seems to idolize him.
However, the usually bold and outspoken Garrett chokes up in the presence of Erick. A sit-down between Erick and Garrett ends badly, with Garrett accusing Erick of not being so cool. Garrett goes on to note that he is the coolest person in the store. This interaction shows how threatened Garrett feels around other Black people. Cloud 9 doesn’t have many Black men as main characters, and Garrett looks to keep it that way.
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