Awkwafina has had a big year, with Ocean’s 8, Crazy Rich Asians, an EP (In Fina We Trust), and hosting SNL, the iHeartRadio MMVAs, and the Hollywood Film Awards. And now, to cap it off, comes the announcement that Awkwafina will star in her own comedy series on Comedy Central. The show will be called Awkwafina and it’s inspired by her early years in New York City. The pilot is being directed by Lucia Aniello of Broad City fame (the less said about Rough Night, the better). So far, this is all good news.
I just hope this works out better than All-American Girl did for Margaret Cho. She had to do the work of opening the door for Asian-American representation on American television, which was enough to be getting on with, but she is also a pretty brilliant comedian who is way too sharp for a sitcom. It wasn’t really surprising when All-American Girl didn’t work out for several reasons, one of which is that the show never found a way to give a voice to Cho that sounded authentic to who she was as a comedian and performer.
Awkwafina isn’t really edgy, but she does have an edge, and hopefully, being on basic cable and not a network will be enough to give her some breathing room, and her voice can carry the show. It worked for Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, whose comedy translated beautifully to Broad City, but Awkwafina is also part of a rarified group on TV. Fresh Off the Boat is the only other show about an Asian-American family. I just hope no one is saying, “This is what works for FOTB, let’s do that,” or, worse, trying to cram Awkwafina’s show into a box that was never built to contain her (which is exactly what happened to Margaret Cho). Just let Awkwafina be Awkwafina, and everything should be fine.