Natalie Morales — the Parks and Rec actor, not the television host — is the star of the new podcast Ellie and the Wave, released earlier this month. The fictional series, set in the near future (perhaps concurrent to the one in the quirky Spike Jonze film Her) takes place as a computer virus known as “the wave” makes its way across the country, erasing the memories of all of our digital devices. All of the photos, videos, the tens of thousands of moments we’ve captured consciously or not on our smartphones, are consumed by the wave and lost forever.
Ellie, played by Morales, has not yet lost her memories to the wave and decides to go through the reel of her life before the recordings disappear. The conceit allows Ellie and the Wave to critique our current-day habits, the cultural idiosyncrasies we take for granted, through the more measured perspective of hindsight: everything from dumb lingo to the ubiquity of man buns to selfies that we don’t even remember taking. It’s not “ha-ha” funny but the podcast certainly will leave you smirking as you consider the validity of this hindsight. With two episodes out now, it’s certainly worth a listen.
Morales, who you may also recognize as Grand Slam champ Rosie Casals from the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes, most recently played the role of Abby in the sitcom Abby’s. After one season of low ratings and tepid reviews from critics, NBC dropped the show back in the spring. Morales opened up to the Daily Beast last week about how big of a loss she feels it has been for NBC’s viewership — specifically, because she was cast as the first ever openly bisexual lead on network television. “When you live in a big city like L.A. or New York, you feel like kids in school are gay and it’s not a big deal, but that’s not the case in most places in America or most places in the world,” she explained. “And it’s especially not the case for Latino kids and Latino families who are mostly religious.”
Morales spoke about the importance of normalizing the lives of marginalized people through art; she had hoped that Abby’s would become this generation’s Will and Grace. She also had some pointed observations to add about NBC’s failure to promote her show. “If I’m being honest, it’s bullshit to tout all of these firsts and all this inclusion and all this diversity and then not market the show whatsoever,” she told the publication. “I just feel like, if you’re going to say that you’re about diversity, then actually walk the walk.”