As a Queens, New York native, I jumped at the chance to review the comedy series QUEENS for the YLWRNGR blog. Directed by Nicole Gomez Fisher and created by Cindy Chu, QUEENS is a fresh, hilarious show that pays homage to my favorite borough with vibrancy and care. Following the Asian American best friend trio of Sarah (Cindy Chu), Kim (Spring Inés Peña), and Gia (Carolina Do), QUEENS brings you shocking twists, a ton of laughs, and a lot of heart. If you threw Insecure and Girls in a blender and added a dash of Asian Americans into the mix, you’d get QUEENS. I’m also obsessed with the fact that it’s brought to you by a cast and crew made up of 75% people of color.
I had the opportunity to watch the pilot and second episode while sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic, so the distraction was welcome. I’m already going into this viewing experience with the anticipation that I might have something in common with these characters. I’m introduced to Sarah as she recites a warm, heartfelt speech to an older gentleman as they are both perched on the park bench. Once you realize she’s practicing vows, it sets the tone for what ensues. I’m then introduced to her fiancé, David. Slender, tall, and long-haired, I thought to myself “hmm, not bad, Sarah!” As time goes on I start to question certain things about their relationship, like why he won’t let her around his “basketball club.” I brush it off as I’m onto the next and soaking in the boho-chic, social media-hooked whirlwind that is Sarah’s friend Gia. As Gia sips on bubble tea simultaneously filming an Instagram story, I’m getting the feeling that there’s more than meets the eye with this character. I’m intrigued to see where she’ll take us next, as I can tell she’s the type to view life as a straight-up adventure.
In comes Kim, with her light pink power suit and stick-straight, long black hair. She’s in front of a mirror in a public bathroom rehearsing a job-related exchange in Spanish. You can tell this professional suffers no fools. As Kim goes on to interact with her superiors at the law firm, I’m cringing hard as they throw several racial microaggressions her way. Meanwhile, Sarah enters her home and stumbles across a scene that stuns her and leaves her infuriated. She hightails it out of here (barefoot) and flees to Kim’s workplace interrupting a super important meeting. The story unfolds as Sarah desperately picks up the pieces, Gia navigates the trials and tribulations of being a social media influencer, and Kim deals with woes of being the token Asian in a less than POC-friendly work environment.
Needless to say, I’m completely sucked in. Sarah, Gia, and Kim are characters that I could see myself being friends with. Each woman brings something different to the table to create a sort of chaotic harmony. Cindy Chu, Carolina Do, and Spring Inés Peña have effortless chemistry together making their characters’ plight relatable. Carolina Do brings panache with ease to Gia. Inés Peña has a composed ferocity that you don’t encounter often. Chu’s performance is spectacular, honest, and genuine. You want to see Chu’s character Sarah and her friends win. As Sarah struggles with her conservative Asian family, you find yourself thinking of your own family strife. Since creating the YLWRNGR blog in 2016, representation of Asian-Americans in the media has been a huge topic of discussion for me. So when a show like QUEENS comes your way, it feels like a breath of fresh air. Even seeing the B-roll footage of Queens, NY in between scenes was exhilarating. I even found myself calling out familiar locations to the screen! This show is truly a love letter to the borough and I can’t wait to read the rest of it.