The person who got me through 2021: Awkwafina made me hopeful for success in dark days

In Nora from Queens, Awkwafina’s adorable loser alter ego was inspiring. Faced with constant failure, she kept going, with wit and warmth

During the past 20 months I’ve become addicted to TV shows about women trying and failing to make it. Broad City, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 2 Broke Girls: it’s like looking in a mirror, if I could be bothered to do even that. But the absolute fabulous queen loser of all is Awkwafina, in her self-created show Nora from Queens.

Awkwafina plays a bizarro-reverse-mirror version of herself as a nearly thirtysomething bum, living in her childhood home with her grandmother and her widowed father. It’s pure lockdown comfort TV, with every petty slight and worldly favour soothed away by familial love. Nothing Nora from Queens does ever works out, and yet it’s always fine in the end. Attempted jobs, moneymaking schemes, love interests and opportunities for growth come and go, with all the wit and humour being incidental. The laughs come from off-the-cuff comments, the quickest physical reactions and scathing jibes, but the emotion is gooey and true. And that’s how I live now – with Nora from Queens as my more adorable, charismatic, sexy, funny, hipster-chic proxy. I actually have the same sloppy tracksuit bottoms, oversized T-shirts, thick dorky glasses and button-down overshirts that Nora wears in the show. If she gets up at noon every day in TV fantasyland, heck, I do it every day in reality. And if she fails at everything while refusing to leave her childhood home or embrace adulthood, well, me too – and I’m 10 years older than Awkwafina herself and 15 older than the show’s character.

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