Sunday, February 09, 2020

Is anyone else watching Nora From Queens?

It's a new scripted comedy based on the life of Awkwafina and her growing up in Queens. I think it's really well made and super entertaining, I like the show a lot. And Awkwafina is straight up hilarious in it.

Her facial expressions and body language make all the writing that much more funnier and she seriously cracks me up. There's also this vulnerability she brings to her character, where Nora seems to just innately want the best for everyone around her. And in each episode, while Nora is trying to figure out her own shit in life, she's actually dealing with a lot of other people who are crazier and more out there than her, yet she really never makes anything about herself. Instead, as she attempts to handle her own stuff, she tries her best to make sure others are going be okay as well.

But what I love most about the show is how it displays layers and dimension to its Asian-American characters in a way that's not solely centered around them being Asian. It's like holy shit, finally! It's so refreshing to watch a show with Asian-American people who are all just living their damn lives like the average Americans that we are. We're just as funny and dysfunctional and as any other group, and it's these types of stories I relate to and want to learn from.

Compared to so many other shows that's ever featured an Asian cast who are always dealing with some sort of circumstance that's related to their race, this show is doing its own thing. Instead of any of the characters having to figure solutions to navigate all these different situations, being Asian simply just factors in to the conventional details of their everyday life. That means eating jook (porridge) for breakfast before heading out of the house or a Chinatown bus being the mode of transportation to get to Atlantic City. I find this highly relatable. I appreciate that the usual, clich├ęd storylines of an Asian person feeling like an outsider have been transformed into stories that unapologetically lay out the ordinariness of them going about something, first as just a regular person, and then also sometimes as an Asian person in America. Because there is nothing more lazy and played out than having another show with Asian-American characters who only undergo archetypical things like getting good grades, trying to become a doctor or grappling with being an outlier of some sort. Snoresville, for reals. I mean, sure, I guess that exists and is some people's truth. But that doesn't mean it's the only narrative to tell. And that's only like a small part of what defines anyone who actually feels like that---there a zillion other ways a character's story could be told. Previously, so many Asian characters were never allowed to be a full person with a backstory that included things like a messy room or job problems. Hollywood has framed this one-dimensional stereotype for so long and it's just so predictable. All of the people in charge of creating shows need to take some lessons from Nora From Queens because this is how you do it right. And don't get me wrong, none of the characters in the show ever deny their ethnicity, but instead, they're showing how it's just one facet of the many complexities that comprise who they are.

There are other things about the series that make me a fan as well. All of the episode storylines are ridiculous, interesting and just so well executed. I also like a lot of their subtle details that remind me of growing up as an Asian kid in Queens. From the 7 Train to soju bottles, to White Rabbit candy or the New York State Pavilion, it all brings me back. And then there's how Nora assumes some of her friends are living these amazing lives with fancy jobs like "video producer" or "lawyer" because that's what she thought she heard about them. When in reality, that's so far from the truth. I think that aspect really speaks on our current culture with social media making us compare ourselves to these picture-perfect existences that we think others are leading, when nothing is really what it seems.

Getting stoned. Queef talk. Kooky family members. Brokeness. Trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. The list goes on and on, but these are just some of the things you can find yourself laughing about in Nora From Queens.

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