2 Dope Queens is officially LIFE. Haven't heard of it? Not subscribed to HBO? Never listen to podcasts? Let me fill you in. 2 Dope Queens is a two-year-old podcast on WNYC (filmed live at Union Hall in Brooklyn) hosted by Jessica Williams (The Daily Show, The Incredible Jessica James) and Broad City's Phoebe Robinson, and it's now on HBO as a series of four hour-long specials. As a podcast, 2 Dope Queens tackles race, sex, hair, and pop culture with confidence and sharp commentary and, as a comedy, it showcases Robinson and Williams as a dynamic duo. Their friendship offers an intimate look at Black womanhood and their humor envelops you, like an adult slumber party where everyone is welcome to the popcorn and wine.
If Broad City is TV's playground for weed and dildo jokes, 2 Dope Queens is the backstage pass to that playground, the VIP section where you get to see what creative license looks like when women are running the show: the jokes are just as raunchy, the approach just as carefree, and the material is saturated in racial and social awareness. Williams and Robinson lightheartedly describe the Black experience, how they perceive their bodies in pop culture, and how the world values their bodies in social spaces. The effect is as familiar as it is enlightening. Relatability is simply the antidote to some of the more taxing topics Robinson and Williams curate in each episode: "New York," "Hot Peen," "Hair," and "Blerds"—titles that aptly describe the juicy subjects the girls unpack.
Their move to HBO signals, 1) they're big time baby! and, 2) they have more freedom and audience interaction on stage. Filmed at the King Theatre in Brooklyn, the HBO special is even more inclusive, even more high-spirited—the audience enhances that liveliness as Robinson and Williams connect with members on and off stage like a community improv or variety show. It's one of those shows where you wish you too were in the audience screaming, "Yas Queen Yas!" There are guest appearances, of course, from other HBO connections like Sarah Jessica Parker and Jon Stewart; Tig Notaro, a brilliant comedian in her own right, directs all four specials.
The stand-up acts are equally enjoyable—Aparna Nancherlan and lesser known names like Rhea Butcher and Michelle Buteau perform hilarious, memorable sets; and if you've ever wondered what's it's like to live in a cramped, studio apartment in NYC, the Brooklyn-ish stage is a charming and vicarious Airbnb stay.
If you're new to Robinson and Williams, HBO's 2 Dope Queens will serve more than a snack, maybe more of a tapas experience à la Clinton Hill's hipster elite. You'll get your fair share of laughs, but more importantly, you'll look at the world with a new perspective. These two queens just wanna chat, kick it, really get to know you. Hopefully, HBO gives them a longer reign, about a full season's worth of majesty, please and thank you.
2 Dope Queens is finally streaming on all HBO platforms. Check it out!
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
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