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New comedy Blockbuster takes a hilarious look at the end of an era
To be clear right away, Blockbuster, about America’s last-ever Blockbuster Video store, has nothing to do with the story of the real last Blockbuster location in Oregon (as already told in hit documentary The Last Blockbuster). No, this 10-episode series is a completely fictional workplace comedy that follows the misadventures of the staff of a video store in suburban Michigan whose manager Timmy (Randall Park, also an executive producer here) tries to keep employee morale up as news hits that corporate is collapsing and they’re the last remaining outlet. (Ironically, the show is coming to Netflix, which many people credit with ushering in the demise of the real-world Blockbuster empire—a fact the show’s writers don’t shy away from.)NetflixAmong those working under Timmy are his longtime crush Eliza (Melissa Fumero, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), a divorced mom and Harvard dropout whom he’s known since high school; Connie (Olga Merediz, In the Heights), an older woman prone to giving unsolicited advice and misremembering the names of actors and movies; Carlos (Tyler Alvarez, Orange Is the New Black), an aspiring filmmaker who fancies himself the next Tarantino; Hannah (Madeleine Arthur, The Magicians), an amusingly frugal girl who lost her mom at a young age; and Kayla (Kamaia Fairburn, Holly Hobbie), a snarky teen perpetually on her phone and not terribly interested in her job. Kayla also happens to be the daughter of Timmy’s best friend (and this Blockbuster location’s landlord)—the gregarious yet shrewd Percy (J.B. Smoove, Curb Your Enthusiasm).
The series comes from creator/showrunner/writer/executive producer Vanessa Ramos, with whom Fumero worked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and thus had a comfort level coming in.
Netflix“I kind of left Brooklyn thinking that I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I probably didn’t want to do another workplace comedy,” the actress explains. “But I read her script and I immediately felt connected to Eliza and it just felt so special and fun. And I’m also a huge fan of Randall’s, so seeing that he was a part of it, it was just too good to pass up the opportunity.”
In Eliza, Fumero plays a character who has had some tough breaks. She got pregnant at a young age, dropped out of Harvard and married someone she shouldn’t have, only to see the marriage collapse. Now in her 40s and with her daughter in college, she’s re-entering the workforce working with her old pal Timmy. So she’s at crossroads in life, which Fumero found fertile ground to explore.
Netflix“I think part of that is even figuring out who she is and what does she want her life to be,” she says, “because she’s never even had the opportunity, I think, to really consider that… I think we all go through moments where we have those crossroads where we’re transitioning into another phase of life.And so I felt really connected to that.”
Blockbuster premieres Thursday, November 4 on Netflix