Ali Wong is Unlikeable in New "Don Wong" Netflix Special
The comedian's latest stand up is filled with crude fantasies about cheating on her husband, who she has since divorced
Ali Wong has certainly never been a comedian you could consider wholesome. Listed as “raunchy” in the comedy category on Netflix, Wong’s previous specials Baby Cobra (2016) and Hard Knock Wife (2018) were blunt and full of explicitness that made you cringe or mutter “that’s messed up!” throughout viewing. However, she did seem to be moving on a from a past of hooking up with random homeless guys in her native San Francisco to entering marriage and family life. She famously filmed both specials while pregnant, and while her crass sense of humor made you wince, she was redeemed by the fact that she was a wife and a mother.
One reason I liked Wong was her bluntness about the pressures of modern feminism in Baby Cobra. She blurts out, “I don’t want to lean in. I want to lie down” and loudly exclaims “I think feminism is the worst thing that ever happened to women! Now we’re expected to work!” My friends and I, exhausted by the lies of feminism in our mid 20s, were in stitches. You never hear that feminism is bad for women on a woke and mainstream platform like Netflix! A woman publicly rejecting feminism while married and pregnant was shocking in the best way.
Wong was funny and frank about her journey to wife and mom. But in Don Wong, her newfound fame has clearly gone to her head, and she’s now indulging temptations to break apart her family. It makes for a lot less laughs and a lot more cringing.
Released on Valentine’s Day 2022, Wong begins with a lot of egotism about her new riches and fame. It’s all very self-congratulatory, and she immediately sets herself apart from the rest of us plebs. She then bemoans that it is hard for a woman with her level of celebrity to find a man above her, and in more vulgar terms, says a man of lower status should be honored to be with high-powered career women like herself. It certainly isn’t untrue that the pool of prospects for women with successful careers gets smaller, but what does Wong care about this if she is already married?
Well, then she tells us - in explicit detail - how much she wants to cheat on her husband. Suddenly her resentment makes sense! She has a very strong wandering eye. After a particularly crass bit in which she describes how she wants to sleep with the entire cast of The Avengers, she laughs “I think I’m having a mid-life crisis.”
You want to be on her side, but you can’t because she is so gross throughout the entire special. Yeah, she’s always been gross, but this is a different level of disgusting than her usual bathroom humor. She wants to cheat on her husband while married with two young children? It’s downright difficult to listen to. I skipped ahead several times to spare myself the poison. At one point I said to my sister, “I feel like I’m listening to a demon right now.” It’s an hour of Wong yearning for hook ups and hedonism, and it makes the listener feel uneasy.
What made Wong likable in the first place was that she was oriented towards the good. Yeah, she was crass, but her jokes were situated on top of something you could respect. She tries to get the audience back on her side at the end by listing all the great qualities about her husband, but it’s too late to believe her by then. We just listened to her yearn for carnal self-indulgence and infidelity for the past hour. Just 2 months after the special was released, news broke that Wong divorced her husband.
When I googled her new special, I couldn’t find any negative reviews - just a lot of scolding of anyone who didn’t find her “empowering.” The media predictably wrote woke pro-sexual-liberation takes. NBC News called the descriptions of her explicit sexual fantasies “profound,” because she is Asian American (what?). Esquire said asking about how husband feels about her work is “a dated question,” as if it isn’t perfectly normal for a viewer to wonder how a husband might feel about his wife talking about how much she wants to cheat on him. So, we’re not allowed to raise our eyebrows at her material or wonder if something is genuinely wrong in her marriage, even though clearly it was. Instead we’re supposed to cheer her infidelity on, and call her “empowered” and “groundbreaking.”
It’s rough to watch Wong struggle with her new success. It’s rough to hear her talk about how much she wants to sleep around behind her husband’s back. And it’s rough to watch the mainstream media cheer it all on.
You want to like Wong, but she’s just not doing the right thing here. Instead of making us like her more, I just felt sorry for her husband and kids. Wong’s strength was always in her willingness to say what no one else would say, which made her relatable. But maybe some things are better left unsaid.