Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens cast on return of grandma gang in season 2, working with Minari's Alan Kim
Awkwafina, BD Wong, Bowen Yang, Teresa Hsiao, and Lori Tan Chinn break down everything that went into making Nora From Queens season 1, and what you can expect in season 2.
Our favorite TV underachiever is back!
Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens is returning this week, and the cast and executive producer Teresa Hsiao join EW's Around the Table panel to talk about what the characters are up to in season 2 (and the significance of ramen noodles and Frosted Flakes to the show).
Awkwafina (born Nora Lum), whose real-life journey and family inspired the comedy, says her character "tragically" ends up in season 2 right where she started in the first installment. But she does promise that Nora learns from her mistakes and "has evolved into someone who is a little bit more aware about what she should be doing right now."
"It causes him to evaluate Nora's role in the success of his relationship, as a young woman who didn't grow up with her mom and who scrutinizes the quality of every woman that Wally dates and how important it is to him that she be happy," Wong adds.
And of course, Lori Tan Chinn teases that Nora's grandma will have more "capers" with her "posse," after we saw them last season fighting with another grandma gang at the food court. There will also be more special and touching scenes between her and Nora. Chinn keeps mum on the details but says viewers should look out for ramen noodles in episodes 9 and 10 as her version of Easter eggs.
As for Edmund, Nora's antagonistic, techy cousin, actor and comedian Bowen Yang says the two's hilarious "sibling rivalry" dynamic will still be around, but they'll actually start to get on the same page.
Last season, Edmund fails up with his app, and "is immediately caught up in scandal again and then humbled, in a real way this time," the Saturday Night Live star shares. "Then it ends up setting him on this path with Nora where for the first time you see them really actually start to understand each other."
The stars also reveal fun tidbits about how they each settled into their roles. Chinn actually said "'hell no' thrice" to playing grandma as she was busy with another project, while Yang's character wasn't in Awkwafina's original concept and was added in later.
Initially, she imagined Edmund as a "Ronny Chieng, bro-y" type character, and thanked Yang for giving his own spin on the role.
"You are such a gift. I don't think we even anticipated what Edmund would become, and sometimes I just like to leave it open, just when we're writing for you," the actress and co-creator says.
The cast also discusses how rare and essential it is to see Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens' unique representation of an Asian American family, especially one that spans three different generations.
"One thing that our show also does is it portrays the Asian American experience, which is this really eccentric, nonsensical hodgepodge of elements of both cultures and the food, like a kitchen where you'd have like the fish sauce or stir fry and Frosted Flakes," Awkwafina says. "And even the way that grandma's room was decorated, which had a lot of props from Lori's real house. A cassette deck, love that... I personally haven't seen a show that shows the good and bad of that experience."
And rather than the characters talking about being Chinese, Wong says the series does a good job at showing their "authentic Chinese Americanness." The Mr. Robot and Law & Order: SVU alum also got to make his directorial debut this season, and Awkwafina applauded him for handling his job with care, especially as the episode tackles deeper, more emotional material with Wally and Nora.
His attention to detail was down to the "arrangements of the pillows," the actress notes — "I have all of the good qualities of an overachieving Asian and gay interior designer," Wong quips in response.
There are also exciting guest stars joining the series after the likes of Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne made appearances in the first installment. Minari breakout star Alan Kim plays young Wally, and the cast praises the actor for making everyone cry and laugh with his performance.
It'll be a reunion of sorts for many of the cast with other season 2 guest stars. Wong's All-American Girl costars Margaret Cho and Judy Gold will be on, as will Yang's SNL castmate Chloe Fineman, Chinn's Orange Is the New Black costar Catherine Curtin will also appear. Other guest stars include Fortune Feimster, Haley Joel Osment, Kerri Kenney-Silver, C.S. Lee, and Aaron Takahashi.
Watch the full Around the Table panel above to hear the cast talk about Yang's Emmy nomination, the process of making the show, and more of what we can expect from the new season.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens season 2 premieres Wednesday, Aug. 18 on Comedy Central.
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