After nearly two years on hiatus, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens has finally returned to Comedy Central for its third season. Season 2 ended with the dawn of the pandemic as Nora (Awkwafina) headed back to Queens. With two seasons following her bizarre encounters and carefree attitude, Nora has dealt with a multitude of hilarious characters along the way. The best part of the show, however, is Nora’s Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn). While her father doesn’t seem to share her quirky personality, it is clear where Nora gets her fun-loving attitude from. Grandma might not be the star of the show, but she is definitely everyone’s favorite character. But what is it about Grandma that makes her the ultimate bestie?
Grandma Doesn’t Care What You Think
While Nora may have inherited many traits from her grandmother, she hasn’t quite mastered grandma’s art of not giving a damn. To be clear: Grandma does not take shit from anyone, and she reminds you of this time and time again. In Atlantic City, she gets into a brawl with a rival grandma gang in the food court for hogging the charging outlet and assures Nora that the other women ended up worse off than she did. She also proves she’s not your average elderly person when she encounters an elder scammer. When the scammer calls her trying to get her bank information she quickly realizes it’s a shakedown, but when she finds out her friends have been scammed by the same man, she decides to take action. With the help of Edmund (Saturday Night Live‘s Bowen Yang), she tracks the scammer’s IP address and confronts him. When it turns out to be a teenager behind the operation, she teaches him a lesson by taking him to lunch and forcing him to eat an entire container of “stinky tofu.” It’s safe to assume that he probably won’t be trying to scam anybody again anytime soon.
Her quest to defeat the scammer also shows how good of a friend she is. When teenager first attempts to scam Grandma, she cusses him out and hangs up the phone, expecting to never have to deal with the thief again. But when she discovers that her friends have actually fallen for the ploy and lost money? Well, that’s a totally different story. She won’t let her friends be taken advantage of! Not only does she look out for herself, but she will also go to incredible lengths to protect the people she cares for. We could all use a bestie who will hunt down a cyber criminal to seek justice in our name!
Grandma Has Endless Love to Share
In one of the best episodes of the series, Grandma tells Nora about their family history and her journey from China to Queens. She grew up in the lap of luxury in a wealthy family, but fell in love with Nora’s grandfather, Garbage Boy (Simu Liu), a sanitation worker. At the height of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao, her family was forced to give up all signs of their wealth to avoid persecution.
When she refused to give up her watch for sentimental reasons, she and her family were forced to flee the country, and eventually immigrated to New York. Although she thought she would never see Garbage Boy again, he found her in Queens, and they started a new life together. Her story of love and hardship is inspiring, and she is an important part of Nora’s cultural heritage that makes their bond so special.
While Grandma’s best episode of Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens is about her meet-cute with Garbage Boy, her most iconic episode involves a wounded pigeon. After Nora moves to China when her app is acquired by a company there, Grandma begins to feel lonely, and takes on caring for an injured bird that she finds. While Wally (BD Wong) calls it a “flying rat” and demands to know why it’s in the house, Grandma ignores him and nurses it back to health, having it join her at the dinner table, and letting it fly away when it’s ready. This type of nurturing behavior and loyalty is exactly what one wants to have in a BFF.
Her Style and Personality Are Iconic
Grandma’s amazing wardrobe is one of the biggest parts of her character, and immediately gives off not-your-average-grandma vibes. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Chinn’s costume designer, Staci Greenbaum, stated that she’s going for an “Iris Apfel-inspired look,” which highlights Grandma’s fiery and unique personality. She also added that Chinn used her own clothes for many of her costumes, specifically her iconic tee shirts with phrases like “Asian American Girl Club,” “Nasty Grandma,” “HARD” and “Asians Don’t Raisin.” These bold statement pieces are part of Grandma’s everyday attire, and when paired with Air Jordans and a buzz cut, she looks truly badass.
While she is hilarious and one-of-a-kind in many ways, the best thing about Grandma is her “grandma-ness.” She is always there for her family, and Nora and Wally are her top priorities. She supports Nora when she decides to move out, and also happily takes her back in when it doesn’t work out. When Nora is fired from her job as a ride-share driver, Grandma asks “where does this Commutes live? I’m going to eat her ass!” (Yes, she meant “beat her ass.”) She also helps find Nora a job as an assistant for a realtor, and goes with her to reopen her bank account. Always going the extra mile for the people she loves makes her the ultimate Grandma and friend.
When Nora is living with a cult at the end of the Season 2, unaware of the ensuing pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Grandma spends her days alone, writing Nora letters, lamenting that the only thing that helps her get to sleep at night is knowing that Nora is safe in the wilderness. Even though Nora has yet to find her way in most aspects of her life, Grandma is always a constant source of support and positivity when the people around her need it most. Behind her tough, funny personality, she has a heart of gold that would make her the ultimate BFF for any of us.
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