“Superstore” Creator Mocks Auto Industry in “American Auto”
Justin Spitzer wrote for “The Office” and created “Superstore” – so he knows a thing or two about workplace comedies as his new series, “American Auto” launches on NBC.
Ana Gasteyer stars in the ensemble sitcom, which premieres Monday (December 13) at 10 p.m., as Katherine Hastings, a pharmaceutical executive hired to run Payne Motors, a huge auto company (think Ford). She’s the first female CEO in Payne’s 100-year history, but has absolutely no industry experience – she can’t drive or pronounce “chassis.” She took the job, she says, for “The money … Obviously, it wasn’t just the money.” There were stock options.
“With an ensemble friends show, you have people who like being together, and on a family show there’s usually a certain amount of love, unless it’s incredibly cynical,” Spitzer said. at The Post. “It’s a workplace, where a group of people with very different interests, backgrounds, goals and values come together in a world where being competitive and surpassing oneself is very helpful – and there is the stress of having to be together in a claustrophobic environment. environment.”
Katherine’s cohorts at Payne Motors include go-getter Sadie Ryan (Harriet Dyer); Wesley Payne (Jon Barinholtz of “Superstore”), the goofy, black sheep great-grandson of the company’s founder; production designer Cyrus (Michael Benjamin Washington); Jack (Tye White), who works in the factory and has a thing with Sadie; sales manager Elliot (Humphrey Ker), an acerbic Briton; and Dori (X Mayo), Katherine’s assistant.
“‘Superstore’ showed how people’s lives were controlled by this society making decisions that seemed arbitrary and petty,” said Spitzer. “[‘American Auto’] gives us the opportunity to jump to the other side and try to figure out how these decisions are made – that it’s not just about evil and accomplice people trying to make everyone’s life miserable.
“The pleasure is to see what goes on behind the closed door of the conference room. “
“American Auto” debuts at a time when the auto industry is at the forefront, with self-driving cars (the plot of episode 1), electric cars and contractors, including Elon Musk, who keep the auto industry in the news. But Spitzer said he didn’t plan it that way.
“I originally introduced and wrote the pilot in 2013; I had just come out of ‘The Office’ and wanted to write a corporate comedy, and that’s where I started, with the auto industry, ”he said. “In terms of timing and [visibility of] the auto industry, I cannot claim any credit for either. This pilot didn’t launch, then I did “Superstore” the following year – and I actually used some elements of that original failed pilot for “Superstore”.
“It was just like a good time,” he said. “The auto industry has changed a lot and I rewrote the driver, so here it is – there is so much to story about because there is so much going on in this industry. It’s really nice to have a not very smart boss in the workplace – we had him in ‘The Office’ – but I wanted to [Katherine] to be smart and knowledgeable, and one way to do that was to at least not be familiar with that particular industry so that she could make mistakes that lead to fun situations.
“American Auto” goes to its usual time slot on Tuesday January 4th at 8pm on NBC.