A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens is a comedy about a young woman who's conflicted about living with her Chinese-American family in Queens at an age when most of her friends have career-type jobs and separate lives. Though the overall tone of the series is sweet and upbeat -- family relationships between Nora and her dad and grandma are particularly loving and supportive -- a lot of the humor is mature, with lots of jokes about sex and drugs. Nora smokes pot frequently through a bong and a vape pen; on at least one occasion she offers the pen to a high-school neighbor. She also smokes casually outside, even though recreational marijuana use is illegal in New York where she lives. Sexual jokes include talk about "threesomes" and casual hookups, and an extended scene in which Nora prepares to masturbate by gathering oversized sex toys. Nora is openly bisexual and flirts with men and women; expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, flirting, romance. The show's cast is multi-cultural but most main characters are at least partially Chinese, so they converse occasionally in Chinese and humor often gently pokes fun at Chinese traditions and culture. Language is intermittent: "bitch," "s--t," "ass," "f--k," and "p---y" (meaning cowardly). Violence is infrequent and generally used for comic effect, like when an angry woman is hit by a bike after exiting Nora's car.
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What's the story?
AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS stars Awkwafina, who's embarrassed to be 27 years old and still living with her father (BD Wong) and Grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn). She failed out of dental assistant school and can't get a real job -- that one day she spent driving for the ride share service didn't count -- but she's still got her sense of humor, and her family and friends.
Is it any good?
Awkwafina is am American comedy treasure, and given her own starring vehicle, she shines. Her comedy chops won't be news to anyone who watched her steal scenes in Crazy Rich Asians. It's also pretty clear that Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens is intended to be the successor to Broad City -- vignettes from Nora's life are even connected by animated interstitials that echo Broad City's fun animated credits. There's been a borough switch -- Brooklyn to Queens -- and the backdrop has shifted from a tight friendship to a family, but Nora is still about a freewheeling young woman trying to find her place in the world through a haze of pot smoke.
Awkwafina's chemistry with her sympathetic widowed dad and no-nonsense grandma is also choice, with both relationships reading as lived-in and affectionate. Chinn in particular is a hoot -- when she walks in during the show's second episode having gone from a graying bob to a startlingly ivory crewcut, she pats it proudly and says she told the hairdresser she "wanted to look like Eminem." "Score!" says her granddaughter supportively, who continues to have her grandma's back even after her posse of elderly Chinese friends get in a physical fight with a gang of senior Korean girlfriends over the only electrical outlet at an Atlantic City food court. When told to "read a book," one of the Chinese friends spits "Don't tell us about books, bitch, we invented paper." Well, they wouldn't have anything to charge without Korean people, because "We invented Samsung!" says her Korean rival. With jokes like these, Nora is one of the best reasons to visit Queens yet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way Chinese culture is portrayed in Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens. Are Chinese traditions depicted positively or negatively? Is Chinese culture or Chinese people mocked, or does the humor about Chinese ways of doing things demonstrate positive representation? Why do Awkwafina and her family members speak mostly English at home? Why do you think the decision was made to show them occasionally talking in Chinese?
How do the characters in Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens defy stereotypes, both in terms of ethnicity and gender? What, if anything, makes Nora a positive female character? Why is it important for kids to see a wide range of behavior from both genders in the media they consume?
What part does Nora's frequent marijuana use play in her struggle to move forward in life? Does the show explicitly send this message, or is it implicit? How does the drug use on this show compare with that on other shows like Broad City?
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