Whether you come to 2 Dope Queens as a fan of Jessica Williams’ work on The Daily Show or from the fandom that she and Phoebe Robinson built doing a podcast and stand-up, it feels like all are welcome on the first two episodes of HBO’s series 2 Dope Queens.
The first episode, “New York,” pays tribute to the city of sleepless nights, street pizza, and tiny basement apartments for ridiculous cash. Williams and Robinson reminisce about their first New York apartments—small√ expensive√—and pet peeves specific to New York, which I will forever recall as Phoebe’s Burnt Toast or Reasons Why You Don’t Want to Walk Slowly in Front of Jessica.
Special guest John Stewart describes the transformation of the iconic Kings Theater and takes the Pepsi challenge; rejecting (cold) fancy pizza in favor of a dollar slice. The reunion between Stewart and Williams is all awkward charm and then sharp, punchy banter that begs its own time slot again on Comedy Central.
Jessica and Phoebe’s intro includes subjects like reparations and their white baes, Starbucks baristas who can’t spell, real talk about Thomas Jefferson, and whether Charmed was more culturally relevant than Catcher in the Rye (I’m with Phoebe on this). We’re reminded of critical terminology like “Cocoa Khaleesi” (let’s get our nerd on, one and all), “herstory,” “dragging,” and their signature “yaaaassss Queen” that feels empowering every time.
The episode includes up and coming comedians Michelle Buteau, Mark Normand, and Baron Vaugh who keep up with the Queens’ wit and social relevance, addressing childless women (mind your business), white people who are scared of looking racist (as described by a white guy), and what Jesus might have looked like (if you guessed Mr. T., well, that’s a scary coincidence).
Episode two, “Hair,” is more than hot locks, although Williams is rocking a majestic Amy Winehouse-inspired ‘do and Robinson has her first “white girl bangs” with blonde curls. Things get real as we, the people share the revelation that Sara Jessica Parker—aka MISS Carrie Bradshaw—shops at Costco and other grocery stores “just like everybody else” (Someone give me the address to SJP’s Costco, please!).
SJP is served a classy Sunday brunch and demonstrates her absolute realness by identifying a puff pastry she likes that is, in fact, from Costco. Williams and Robinson pay homage to Carrie who wore every possible hairstyle from big, blown out curls to power-ponytails and we are privileged to share SJP’s safe space as she is invited to asks things about black girl hair that she doesn’t know, and I didn’t either. Like Williams says, “We all have to learn to walk,” OK?
Second episode comedians include Aparna Nancherla, Rhea Butcher, and Sheng Wang. They cover springtime impeachment daydreams, gender identity and having the same personality as my chatty grandfather, and avocado culture; or Avocados: the ticking time bomb! Other things we learn—man buns get a boo in live crowds. “Mr. Clean is kind of hot if you really think about it.” Williams is a Potterhead and she lives and breathes that fandom life.
All in all: I laughed, I cried (ok, I didn’t cry), I learned things about hair and the big city. Episodes three, “Hot Peen,” and four, “Black Nerds (aka Blerds)” promise to continue to push Williams and Robinson to the next level of comedy queenness, so if you want to say you were there as the queens make it big, keep watching and come back for more next week.