Follow TV Tropes


Series / Awkwafina is Nora from Queens

Go To
Awkwafina is Nora from Queens is a television series on Comedy Central starring Awkwafina.

Awkwafina plays Nora Lin, a fictionalized version of herself living with her grandma (Lori Tan Chinn) and father (B.D. Wong) in Queens, NY, and struggling to be an adult.

This series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Wally accidentally includes his dick in an Instagram photo.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: A show starring Awkwafina as a woman named Nora titled Awkwafina is Nora from Queens.
  • Art Shift:
    • 'Savage Valley' takes on the appearance of an '80s video game when Nora hallucinates monsters to fight in the "Chinese Death Trap".
    • 'Grandma & Chill' becomes a shadow puppet show when Young Grandma's friend Shu Shu explains how she fled China for America. Before Young Grandma tells Shu Shu of her tribulations, the viewer can actually see Shu Shu put the puppets away.
  • Author Avatar: Nora Lin is loosely based off Awkwafina (born Nora Lum) growing up.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bilingual Backfire: While working with a Chinese tech company in China, Nora gets insulted by two local workers who call her a lazy American in Mandarin only for Nora to point out she understands them. What makes it hilarious is they're all Chinese and makes the viewers wonder why would they insult her when she obviously knows the language.
  • Birds of a Feather: Brenda and Wally bond over being struggling single parents with kids in their '20s.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Season 1 ends with Nora getting fired from her high paying job at the Chinese tech company that bought her cousin's app and deported from China after taking the fall for her assistant Grace when the police accused her for possessing drugs left by the other foreign expats. Despite that, Nora is happy to learn that Grace finally got promoted by the company after years of trying, and resolves to finally move out in a more thought-out manner.
    • Advertisement:
    • Season 2 ends with Nora realizing that the compound she is staying at is a fraudulent place filled with people pretending to be cut off from society. She also learns about the COVID-19 virus sweeping the world and rushes to New York to be with Grandma, who is all alone in the house (Wally is staying with Brenda). She succeeds and reunites with her. They stay in quarantine together while playing Zoom games with Wally, Brenda and Edmund.
  • Chastity Couple: Parodied in 'Grandma & Chill'. Because Nora's grandmother is telling the story of how she got with Nora's grandfather as a Korean Drama (where romantic leads rarely do much more than hug and kiss), she and Nora's grandfather only ever kiss without tongue and only hold hands when they spend a night together (although Grandma's description of their hand-holding is innuendo-laden).
  • Cool Aunt: Played with. Nora's aunt Sandra is a fun-loving, free-spirited hippie, but obviously portrayed as irresponsible, flighty, and neglectful towards her son.
  • Cool Old Lady: Nora's grandmother is the foundation of the family and one of the funniest characters in the show.
  • Dark Reprise: When Nora sets off to bail her booted car out of "car jail", she happily strolls to the accompaniment of a "Power Remix" of Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly". After car jail demands she pay the bail in cash rather than a check, she glumly trudges to the bank, to the accompaniment of her Insufferable Genius cousin, Edmund, singing a solemn-sounding cover of "Bubbly" for his music class.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Nora, oh so much. The second episode had her planning to masturbate for seven to twelve hours before being swept up in Grandma's adventure to Atlantic City. At the end, she's on the bus pleasuring herself to Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights.
  • Desperately Seeking A Purpose In Life: Nora's job at the real estate agency ends after the owner retires, so Nora tells Wally of her desire to find a job that lets her "make an impact".
  • Dirty Communists: Grandma reveals she was once the daughter of a rich family in China during the 1960s, but was forced to flee to America when Communist hardliners started to target her family during the Cultural Revolution.
  • Experimented in College: Nora mentions being bisexual in college.
  • First Girl Wins: Gender-flipped when Young Grandma turns down Doc Hottie's marriage proposal to try and win back Garbage Boy instead.
  • Girl Friday: In 'China', the company gives Nora an overly invested and enthusiastic personal assistant named Grace.
  • God: Appears to Nora in a dream... and is voiced by Laverne Cox.
  • Help Yourself In The Past: "Stop! Nora Time" unexpectedly sends Nora back to 2003, giving her the chance to advise her younger self towards a brighter future. She accidentally gives her advice to another Asian girl instead, who heeds it towards becoming a wealthy and happy adult by the time she meets Nora in the present.
  • Hospital Hottie: Parodied. Young Grandma's new love interest in America was a doctor at the hospital she worked at. He is only ever called "Doc Hottie" and is played with fanservicey aplomb by Harry Shum Jr..
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Flashbacks and photos from The '60s depict Nora's grandparents as a Statuesque Stunner and Mr. Fanservicenote . Nora can't believe that they looked so "hot" until Grandma shows her their wedding picture.
  • Imaginary Friend: Toeknee for Nora, who torments all of Wally's girlfriends.
  • Insufferable Genius: Nora's cousin Edmund, a Silicon Valley whiz kid. Every word that comes out of his mouth is delivered in such a patronizing, haughty tone.
  • Korean Drama: 'Grandma & Chill' is presented as an episode of a K-Drama.
  • Manchild: The entire premise of the show is that Nora is a female version. Nora, despite being 27, still lives with her father and grandma, keeps a messy room, stays up all night playing video games, reflects on winning a Magic: The Gathering game as if it's a life-defining accomplishment, and is overall quite adolescent in nature.
  • Mid-Season Twist: Halfway through the first season, in the episode 'Not Today', Nora learns that Edmund has moved to New York.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: A live-action version. Grandma is a good bit shorter than her son and granddaughter, but then we learn she was a tall, lithe young woman (played by a Timeshifted Actor).
    Nora: Grandma, you were hot? And five foot ten?
    Grandma: Yes, and I'm still hot.
  • Multigenerational Household: Nora lives with her father and grandmother.
  • Old, Dark House: Nora's boss at the real estate agency has sworn not to retire until she can sell the Chinese Death Trap, a decaying, abandoned gangster hideout rumored to have ghosts. When Nora helps sell it off, she gets paid double her salary before the agency closes down.
  • Older Than She Looks: Shu Shu looks exactly the same as she did in The '60s, except her hair has turned grey.
  • Only Sane Man: Downplayed with Nora's father Wally; he appears to be the sole voice of reason compared to his more eccentric family, but he has quirks of his own that become more apparent.
  • Parental Substitute: When Nora's friends dare her to prank call a sex hotline, the operator proves surprisingly understanding and forgiving towards Nora. She proceeds to call the operator again whenever she needs motherly advice.
  • "Rediscovering Roots" Trip: Alluded to in 'China', as the Chinese-American Nora has never even been on a plane, and her family mentions that this might be a good opportunity to get to know her roots and eat some authentic Chinese food. (She gets KFC.)
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Nora learns in 'Paperwork' that since her bank account remained inactive for two years, the bank has declared her dead until she can deliver updated proof of identity.
  • The Rich Have White Stuff: Edmund moves to a swanky apartment, which fittingly has white walls, floors, and furniture.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The launch party Edmund and Nora start for their app Scrubr, which targets rich young people, is hastily thought out, poorly executed, expensive, and is later made a laughingstock, is evocative of 2017's Fyre Festival, which became notorious in 2019 following two documentaries about the event.
  • Screaming at Squick: Nora and Edmund scream in utter horror and disgust at the sight of Wally's accidental dick pic on Instagram.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Nora's grandmother is often crass and not afraid to speak her mind.
  • Sick Episode: The Framing Device for 'Grandma & Chill' shows Nora recuperating in bed, with Grandma keeping her company.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Edition Title:
    • 'Grandma & Chill' replaces the intro with one befitting a K-Drama.
    • 'China' replaces all of the New York landmarks in the intro and transitions with Chinese landmarks.
  • Special Effect Failure: In-Universe. In 'Grandma & Chill' Nora complains that the flashback special effects (where characters move jerkily in front of old photographs) are terrible.
    Grandma: We don't have the budget!
  • The Stoner: Nora is shown to smoke.
  • Stylistic Suck: In 'Grandma & Chill' the story of how Grandma met Nora's grandfather is told in the style of a low-budget K-Drama. At one point, characters are running in front of an obvious green screen.
  • Take That!: Nora's grandmother hates Marie Kondo.
  • This Loser Is You: Nora (the protagonist) is an unemployed Womanchild in her late '20s. She lives with her father and grandmother and has few prospects.
  • Timeshifted Actor:
    • Jamie Chung and Alan Kim play the younger versions of Grandma and Wally in flashbacks.
    • Nora runs into Annabelle Chow when seeking herself from 2003. However, Olivia J. Lu plays the real Young Nora.
  • Toilet Humour: One episode revolves almost entirely around a song that samples Nora's queefs.
  • Token Black Friend: Variation, as the majority of cast members are Asian. In 'Grandma & Chill', the Chinese Young Grandma had two friends of color upon arriving in Queens — a Haitian woman and a Puerto Rican woman, both nurses — who just exist to commentate on their love lives.
  • Uptown Girl: Nora's grandparents. Her grandmother was a rich girl who fell in love with their garbage boy, to the disapproval of her parents.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Nora's grandmother, the daughter of a rich family, portrays her past self as one in 'Grandma & Chill'. As a rich girl, she had little to do other than look out the window and sigh after Garbage Boy, and was relatively unconcerned with political matters.
  • Wacky Startup Workplace: The supposed marketing guru Edmund hopes to advertise Scrubr has a very club-like office. However, Nora immediately pegs him as irresponsible and untrustworthy, which he turns out to be.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In the flashbacks to Nora's grandmother's youth in China, her grandfather for some reason did all his garbage collection shirtless, allowing for heavy Female Gaze.
  • Yellowface: Parodied in season 2, when Nora and Melanie's old schoolfriend Jennifar comes back to Queens to hang out, and insists that they cosplay as the 2000 Charlie's Angels—but also insists that she herself gets to be Lucy Liu, in spite of Nora being the one of the three who is Chinese-American. Jennifar's impersonation of Lucy Liu consists of her wearing a black wig and dotting a few freckles on her face, while Nora is obliged to use talcum powder and Vaseline in order to squeeze into her very tight Cameron Diaz costume.
  • You Didn't Ask!: 'Paperwork' resolves with Grandma pulling Nora's Social Security Card out of a shoebox, but only after boasting that if Nora weren't too stubborn to ask for help, Grandma would've gladly helped clear things up with the bank right away.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: