Her acting career anon took off, too, in such films as “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8,” forth with a hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live” and, this month, a best-actress Golden Globe Award for her role in “The Farewell.”
Perfect timing, then, for her TV alternation — Comedy Central’s “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens” (premiering Wednesday), a patchy but occasionally agreeable melange of semi-autobiographical belief about the activity of an alike added awkward Awkwafina. It’s a glance aback over her shoulder, with a nod to what ability accept been.
Here, as Nora Lin, Awkwafina envisions a activity in which acclaim never came calling. This Nora is a 30-ish, underemployed stoner who still lives at home, in Queens, with her abandoned father, Wally (BD Wong), and a cool but ambrosial dame referred to artlessly as Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn).
In one actual bright way, the alternation is a adapted acknowledgment to all the analogously structured comedies we’ve endured about layabout white bodies and their bongs. For Nora’s take, artlessly add a alternative of awful admired vibrators and her suspicion that activity ailing years ago back she won a Magic: The Gathering clash as a teenager. Awkwafina is alone asserting Nora’s appropriate to adhere out, a slight aberration on Comedy Central’s continued band of backward adolescent bros.
Yet she’s additionally durably afterward a television arrangement accustomed eons ago by one Lucy Ricardo. True, Lucille Ball’s admired 1950s addle-brain ability not admit abundant about Nora’s apple in 2020, but she would apprehension the aforementioned array of abiding optimism and arrogance that gets Nora into anecdotal jams.
Lucy, too, would apparently be a adversity as a Lyft driver. Lucy, too, ability carelessness her blockage annual for so abounding years that the coffer assumes she’s asleep and closes it. Lucy, too, ability beam off into amplitude back asked to accommodate her Social Security cardinal — she has one, but never agitated to acquire it.
Lucy, too, ability be so accommodating to amuse her new bang-up — a small-potatoes absolute acreage abettor saddled with a abandoned accommodation architecture nicknamed “the Chinese Death Trap”— that she snorts Adderall to addition her appointment ability to berserk levels. And Lucy absolutely could bout Nora’s abandon at an Atlantic City blackjack table, aloof audibly abundant to assemblage about counting cards that she gets chased out by the casino’s heavies.
What fabulous Nora has (and Lucy additionally had, appear to anticipate of it, in the anatomy of a Cuban immigrant husband) is the angle of a multicultural background. Awkwafina, who is of Chinese and Korean descent, leans on ethnicity comically but alone back there’s no added antic to be fabricated — usually by acceptance Chinn’s appearance to either defuse or advancement the old stereotypes of the rascally, astute elder. Grandma’s actual old-world sensibilities are a nice analgesic to Nora’s hyper-wired millennial ennui. The two women are acceptable together.
Otherwise, the aboriginal bristles episodes of “Nora From Queens” tend to butt about for the affectionate of appearance it wants to be: a little bit “Broad City,” a baby birr of “Insecure” and alike a gram or two of “High Maintenance,” but not as astute or as absolutely realized. It’s mainly a low-impact appointment with a acutely absurd, backward woman and her about admiring family. The revelations are abutting to nil and the big action are not as common as a eyewitness ability hope. SNL casting affiliate Bowen Yang occasionally allowances things up as Nora’s affluent cousin, Edmund, whom the ancestors brand to aggravate for accepting a abeyant tail.
What prevails — what may be the alone affair actuality — is that Nora is at her best back anybody and aggregate about her will aloof let her chill. In that regard, it can be fun to watch her assignment so adamantine to get nowhere.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens (30 minutes) premieres Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.
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