Nico Santos Opens Up About America Ferrera’s ‘Superstore’ Exit Ahead Of ‘Bittersweet’ Finale

'Superstore' ends abruptly tonight with an unplanned, cliffhanger finale and the shocking departure of series star America Ferrera. Co-star Nico Santos breaks down what we can expect.

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It goes without saying, but a lot has changed over the last two months. For Nico Santos, star of Superstore and Crazy Rich Asians, the last eight weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions. It began in the beginning of March, when America Ferrera announced her unexpected departure from the beloved NBC comedy after five seasons, just weeks after the show was renewed for a sixth season. The news of the show’s leading lady’s exit was a blow for fans, but for the Superstore family, it was even more heartbreaking.

“She came to talk to us before the news broke,” Nico shared. “It was really bittersweet to find out that she was leaving. We’ve become so close as a family since Day 1. To see her leave is really sad, but we understand why she is leaving and we all support her in her decision. It’s not going to be the same without her.”

While Nico admits the world of Superstore will undoubtedly be “different” without Amy/America on set, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the course of things to come on the show, including America’s exit. For one thing, production of the show halted before the cast could film the intended finale for season 5. What airs tonight is in fact the first part of a two-part finale. While Nico explains the finale leaves fans with a fairly major cliffhanger, it also leaves the door wide open for America to return in season six.

“We only had a week left [of filming] and then we were shut down,” Nico explains. “This pandemic obviously created new challenges for not just the entertainment industry, but for everybody.” He then added, “The plan was never to completely shut [America] out from the show, so hopefully we’ll have her back for a few episodes here and there. She’s always going to be a part of the Superstore family, so anytime she wants to come back she’s obviously welcome to do so. We hope we continue to have chance to play with her in the future.”

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Sadly, Nico knows all too well the full gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks after America’s announcement, the COVID-19 crisis hit home, as his stepdad, Sonny, passed away due to the virus. His mother, who was also infected, has thankfully recovered, but it’s still admittedly a surreal reality to be navigating. “My mom has thankfully recovered, so we are thankful for that and to celebrate any good news we can get while we are all dealing with this pandemic,” he said.

As for the Superstore finale, fans will be pleased Mateo will be ending things on a high note, as he plans an epic birthday celebration for his bestie, Cheyenne. “Cheyenne is turning 21,” Nico explains, “which I forgot that, when we started the show, she was a teenage mom, so I was like, ‘OMG! We are celebrating her 21st birthday?!”

Knowing how much fans love the pair of Cheyenne and Mateo, Nico promises that their “dynamic” will be fun to watch. “Cheyenne and Mateo’s tastes are very different,” he says. “They have similar tastes when it comes to other stuff, but for the birthday planning, they both have different ideas. You get to see a little conflict between the two of them, which is fun. Nichole Bloom (who plays Cheyenne) is just the most fun to play around with.”

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It’s a stark change from the show’s previous finale; at the end of season 4, Mateo was captured by ICE and hauled away in front of all of his friends at Cloud 9. To see Mateo’s journey over the last season culminate into a happy ending is a relief, but it begs the question if that streak will continue in season 6. Moreover, the big question is if Amy’s departure means Amy’s brother Eric, played by George Salazar, will be sticking around in her place. Nico admits that he’s hopeful.

“I certainly hope so,” he says. “I think fans just love to see Mateo boo’d up. It softens him a little bit. I like that for Mateo; its nice to see a character like him having a full life that he’s living out there.”

Speaking of season six, it’s been long hoped for that the multi-talent cast of players at Cloud 9 would mount a musical episode. Year after year, the rumors swirl that it could happen and yet, fans have continued to be left wanting. With season six on the horizon, as well as the 100th episode, could next year be the year it finally happens?

“It feels surreal and amazing,” Nico says. “Who knew when we started this journey five years ago that we would be going into season six and to our 100 episodes? I would love nothing more then to do a musical episode. We’ve been bugging Justin Spitzer, who created the show, since the pilot.”

Time will tell if the cast’s efforts will pay off next season!

Superstore airs on NBC Thursday at 8pm.

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