We are Lady Parts
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We Are Lady Parts follows Amina, a socially awkward microbiology PhD student who desperately wants to find a husband. When she’s recruited to join an all-female Muslim punk band, it changes her entire perspective on life.
Most of the actors and actresses in We Are Lady Parts are fairly new to the small screen, but you may recognize Aiysha Hart (Noor) from A Discovery of Witches and Line of Duty as well as Lucie Shorthouse from the stage version of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
With Ms. Marvel bringing a Muslim hero into the mainstream, you may be interested in more stories that center Muslim women. Well, have we got a show for you.
With the notable exception of Ms. Marvel, Muslims are still not often seen in Hollywood productions, and positive, realistic portrayals are even more rare. That’s a major oversight for a group that makes up a sizable portion of the global population. We Are Lady Parts is another big leap forward in representation, depicting Muslim women as diverse and fascinating individuals, rather than interchangeable members of a monolithic culture.
Set in London, the series is narrated by Amina (Anjana Vasan), whose search for a husband kicks into high gear when her best friend Noor (Aiysha Hart) announces she’s engaged. Amina no longer wants to be the spinster in her friend group, and decides that her goal is to get married as soon as possible. The opening scene sees Amina’s laid-back parents meeting with an extremely strict Muslim family in an exchange of hilarious barbs.
Amina also loves music and teaches guitar to underprivileged children, but is too anxious to perform in public herself. Still, Noor isn’t impressed with the fact that Amina has a Don McLean poster in her room—“What God-fearing Muslim man wants to marry a girl with an old white man on her wall?” Noor asks. Almost as soon as we meet Amina, the complexities in her personality shine through. She’s also really funny. In a fantasy sequence set inside her closet she performs her own twangy version of “A Girl of Constant Sorrow,” about her inability to find a man.
Amina’s life is turned upside down when the dreamy Ahsan (Zaqi Ismail) hands her a flier for a band looking for a new guitarist. She follows him and winds up meeting the members of Lady Parts, who are not exactly your proper Muslim women. In her narration, Amina describes them as “concocting a confused mix of hash anthems and sour girl power. One part boredom, two parts identity crisis.” There’s Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey), the lead singer and guitarist who works in a butcher shop and refuses to commit to a relationship; Ayesha (Juliette Motamed), the acerbic drummer and Uber driver who is also Ahsan’s sister; Bisma (Faith Omole), the bassist who sells graphic novels about women on their periods getting superpowers; and finally the band’s manager, Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse) who wears a niqab and works in a lingerie store.
Each of these characters break the traditional stereotypes around Muslim women. They wear hijabs, but listen to punk music. Bisma has a family, but she and her husband split their work 50-50. They eat halal, but swear like sailors. Amina’s parents also break many preconceived notions about Muslim parents. Her mother tries to have “the talk” with her and they support her music and obsession with Don McLean. This is the kind of representation that’s sorely needed. If representation just reinforces harmful stereotypes, it can actually be worse than no representation whatsoever. We Are Lady Parts portrays Muslims and those of MENA and Asian descent as complex and messy, just like anyone else.
Though Amina suffers from stage fright, the band members make her an offer she can’t refuse. Ayesha promises to set up a date with Ahsan if Amina agrees to perform with them at an audition for a battle of the bands. Once the deal is struck, Amina has to balance her life between being a punk musician, a graduate student, and a devoted friend to Noor. She goes from helping Noor select colors for her engagement party to playing songs with titles like “Voldemort Under my Head Scarf” and “Bashir with a Good Beard.” The snarky blend of humor like this is what makes We Are Lady Parts work so well: it’s a show built on contradictions. Amina’s endearing friendship and possible romance with Ahsan mocks ridiculous rom-com tropes as she daydreams them into various romantic scenarios. When Amina compares their relationship to the plot of The Wedding Date, he dryly asks if he’s the male escort.
We Are Lady Parts is what happens when MENA and Asian writers and actors are allowed to tell their own stories. Racism and Islamaphobia are addressed, as well as the standards Muslim women are subjected to, but these issues aren’t the main theme of the series. It’s more about self-expression and how having the right people in your life can bring out the best in you. The ladies push forth regardless of what is thrown at them. That’s something everyone can relate to, but as a woman of Muslim and MENA descent, there were so many moments in We Are Lady Parts that spoke to me specifically. I am far from keeping it halal, a fact that my father reminds me of on a daily basis. But like the ladies of Lady Parts, I just do the best thing possible: be me.
With just six episodes at a half and hour each, it’s easy to breeze through this series in one sitting, but try and take your time with it. This is a funny, endearing, fresh show that demonstrates what proper representation looks like.
Your close friends. We Are Lady Parts truly celebrates the bonds of friendship. If you’re in a band, watch it with your band.
The series, created by Nida Manzoor, actually got its start via Channel 4’s Comedy Blaps, a platform for comedy shorts that has launched several popular British series, including Chewing Gum, Stath Lets Flats, and Dead Pixels. Unfortunately, the initial short received a lot of hate online, but Manzoor kept going and developed it into the series that it is today. A second season is on the way, but we don’t yet have a release date at this time.