Tv Review: Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens Season 1 Episode 1

awkwafina is nora from queens s1e1 index

Awkwafina’s just won a Golden Globe for her role in The Favourite, has been cast in a Marvel movie and is a critically acclaimed comedy rapper to boot, and so clearly is soon going to be pretty much everywhere. Though I wasn’t aware of her work beforehand judging by this Comedy Central sitcom that she’s co-created she absolutely deserves to be as well, it’s a smart, sharp, occasionally amusingly twisted and very, very funny affair.

It starts with Nora in heaven having an argument with God, it’s all a dream but it’s also an effective way to introduce the character as even though she seems pretty intelligent it doesn’t take her long to call God a Bitch, and it looks like she’s going to be sent to hell. Luckily for her before events spiral out of hand she’s woken by her Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn), but after looking around her pigsty of a room she quickly comments that “Nora, grow up, you’re too old for this”, and along with this and an interaction with a neighbour it’s made clear that Nora’s something of a slacker who’s drifting through life without knowing quite what to do with it. So in some ways she’s the anti-Awkwafina, but the actress pulls off the role with aplomb nonetheless.

The rest of the episode is devoted to Nora trying to find a way to sort her life out, and as it’s a US sitcom she’s of course able to move out in to a friend’s luxury apartment within a couple of minutes, and gets a job as an Uber style driver for a company called Commute, though due to her inability to stop rambling away and getting distracted it’s not long before she’s fired. Another opportunity soon falls in to her lap however when she discovers that her friend is a camgirl for a stoner friendly website, but that of course goes horribly wrong too, albeit in what are the funniest scenes of the episode.

It’s a strange mixture of being pretty realistic and yet cartoonish in places, yet it works because of Awkwafina’s larger than life central character, in other hands her non-stop rambling might have been irritating but Awkwafina’s an incredibly engaging and charming actor, and superb at the physical side of comedy too. She’s also surrounded herself with a superb supporting cast as well, with her Grandma being the stand out character, if she was overused it would be a bit much but her blunt and straight to the point ways elicit a lot of laughs, especially in scenes where she shows Nora a picture of her post hysterectomy vagina as a warning as to what happens when you get old, and also comments at one point “Where does Commute live I’m going to eat her ass” (before being corrected that it should be beat).

The rest of the cast are great too, with B.D. Wong as her long suffering but always caring father especially on impressive form, and as with all of the best sitcoms it’s not just the lead characters who gets the best lines, with even one off roles like the guy who’s towing away her car at the end getting to be really funny. As long as it maintains the quality shown here it should be something of a must watch then, and if it manages to improve on it then we might just have a truly special show on our hands.

★★★★

Alex Finch.
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