Actress Awkwafina’s new semi-autobiographical show on Comedy Central leaves something to be desired. Awkwafina, whose real name is Nora Lum, has been growing in popularity in the past year, having received high praise for her roles in the movies “Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Farewell.” Her new highly anticipated show “Nora from Queens” was written by Awkwafina herself and borrows a lot from her own life growing up in Queens with her father and grandmother.
The pilot episode is about how Nora is done with living at home, so she tries to get an apartment and job to gain some purpose. The episode sets up the show as having the loose plot of Nora trying to navigate adulthood.
Though the formula of “a show about nothing” has been successful for years with shows like “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” it is not something that always works. Since all of these shows have an ensemble or cast, the characters’ strong personalities and quirks play off each other.
Though all the characters Nora interacts with are also over the top quirky caricatures, it is clear that it’s all about Nora. She very quickly falls short as the main character. It doesn’t help the case of “Nora from Queens” that it feels like a complete rip-off of another very successful Comedy Central show, “Broad City.”
“Broad City” also has a very loose plot that follows the misadventures of two best friends that live in New York City. From the millennial humor about vibrators and dab pens to the transition graphics to the music, it’s clear where Awkwafina got her inspiration from.
At its core, the concept of a 20-something-year-old who lives at home and doesn’t work who wants more from life can be a very relatable one. Instead of coming off as relatable, it is just sad and makes her character unlikable.
However, one moment stands out: Nora starts driving for Uber and overshares to her passengers. She said high school should have been called “bi-school” because she was bisexual. When examining what Nora goes through and says to her passengers, it feels like she is just an adult baby who is making a fool of themselves.
Despite issues with storyline and Nora’s character, a lot of the jokes are actually funny. When Nora is job hunting, her cousin suggests work at a convalescent home, but she said she couldn’t because she “reminds old people of ‘Nam and it freaks them out.”
It could be argued Awkwafina is making light of the usually hopeless, sad situation of being a purposeless adult, but it simply doesn’t work. It is too real to flip into something funny and long-lasting.
Though this was only the first episode, it is hard to imagine where Awkwafina could take the show without it being repetitive. Hopefully, Awkwafina can find new places to take the show because, despite everything, she is still brimming with potential.
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