Netflix’s Blockbuster doesn’t have the strong start I was hoping for, but it’s a solid series, nevertheless. It’s nostalgic, heartwarming, and stacked with drama on every shelf. (See what we did there? The puns write themselves.)
The new series stars Randall Park (Fresh Off The Boat), Melissa Fumero (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Tyler Alvarez (Never Have I Ever), Kamaia Fairburn (Holly Hobbie), Madeleine Arthur (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before), Olga Merediz (In The Heights), and J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm). The premise is relatively simple—our main cast is working at the only Blockbuster store left, trying to navigate the rise of streaming services amidst all the changes. We could write an entire essay on Netflix, of all streaming services, being the ones to develop this series. Remember when there was a plan to rent DVDs here? Also, somewhere in the TV multiverse, Jake Peralta is happy he can still use his membership card.
The first season of Netflix’s Blockbuster is somewhat similar to NBC’s Superstore, and anyone who’s worked in retail could positively relate. Still, the twists are charming regarding the lengths the characters are willing to go through in order to keep this store open. Because there’s a very specific premise, I cannot see it going past more than four seasons. Unless, of course, we go down a fictional route where Blockbuster never closes, in which case, you know what—let’s do it. Furthermore, protect the (real) World’s Last Blockbuster in Oregon forever, please, and thank you.
The series takes some time to find its footing, but because the cast is so spectacularly fun, the characterizations work, and there are some fresh forms of humor that film buffs especially will appreciate. So much of the series works because it centers around films, and it might just be its best asset along with the cast.
Additionally, with age ranges in the lead characters, the series tackles what it looks like to chase one dream when wanting another and how we find ourselves at the center of wishing for more. Gen Z and Gen X collide in a fascinating fashion that cleverly adds to the humor while intermixing a place from our past into our present. For those of us who’ve worked retail, it could hit a little close to home at times, which also adds surprisingly exciting layers of vulnerability to the story arcs. While some of the dynamics could and should be fortified a bit more to hit as profoundly as the found family trope tends to, the group of employees are well on their way towards finding that closeness that’s going to make for something exceptional in the workplace comedy.
And since our readers are often here for glimpses of a romance—Netflix’s Blockbuster brings a potential ship front and center intriguingly. While we don’t yet know where it will go, it’s clear as day that the seeds planted will grow into something we’ll find ourselves thoroughly intrigued with. The angst is already here, and thus far, it’s working for us. There are ways to go, and where they continue to take it will be very riveting.
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Netflix’s Blockbuster takes its time to find the right footing in a workplace comedy, but with engaging characters, laugh-out-loud banter, and a solid narrative, it’s full of potential, nevertheless. The series returning for a second season has far more prospect in making it an even bigger hit than it is now, which could cement dynamics as pleasingly as it grounds the humor. Viewers will pick up on the sentimentality even if they aren’t part of the generation that lived through Saturday night rentals with candy.
Blockbuster is now streaming on Netflix.