Ronia Ibrahim reflects on the fearlessness of We Are Lady Parts, the comedy series about an all-female Muslim punk group that hilariously shatters tired tropes.
I am one of those people who you might call “prudish” or “conservative”. “Frick” is part of my unironic vocabulary, and I find it hard to pronounce the word “sex” or “boyfriend” without flinching. R16 movies make me suspicious, and I’ve still never tried a V. So how did I end up watching a TV show about an all-female Muslim punk band called We Are Lady Parts?
Well, the honest answer is embarrassing (TikTok and a period of mourning over misandry), but let’s just say that in this state of affairs I decided to cheer myself up by consuming edgy content. So if the world is ending, you might as well not be ashamed of trying to be awake, damn it. But maybe I wasn’t as independent as I thought – this show was recently nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Edinburgh TV Festival. It also achieved a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s strange to me because We Are Lady Parts seems like a niche show, with a set of BIPOC actors and a premise that feels very unconventional.
The show is about an all-Muslim punk band called Lady Parts, who are trying to make a name for themselves in the music scene. On entering, I was apprehensive for two reasons. The portrayal of Muslim women in Hollywood is already infamous: A sad girl takes off her hijab for the aggressively mediocre white boy, as she struggles to connect with her strict religion and ruthless immigrant parents (who still force her to marry, or something). The last time I had any hope was while watching Hala from Apple TV, which made me cry in disappointment at her repeat of that terrible character trope.
The second reason I was apprehensive is that the premise of this show is almost deliberately provocative. Punk and Muslim are fundamentally opposite identities. The first is seen as violent, profane and unbalanced, the second is a religion that values modesty, peace and prayer. Additionally, the show features and discusses music, homosexuality, dating, smoking, and tattoos – all big taboos in Islam, so I was wary of how this might be portrayed. and the potential response from Muslim viewers. We don’t like to admit it, but Muslims can be really superficial. There is a troubling issue within our community of cyberbullying and denigration (women in particular) for the way we present ourselves religious or non-religious. For a faith that is already so widely distorted, or simply absent from the media, our appearances may be considered blasphemy simply because they exist.
All this considered, the moment I realized this was going to be a good show was in one of the show’s featured songs, ‘Bashir with a Good Beard’. The lyrics expose and challenge the misogyny that exists within our community: “Are my clothes too tight? Am I laughing too much? You I say I’m not polite, I say fuck you! Hearing this, I exhaled with a mixture of relief, nervous laughter, and empowerment. The show is not afraid to recognize the elephant in the play which is the internal conflicts and issues within the Muslim community. While it was shocking at first, I slowly realized how refreshing it was to watch a story that finally felt authentic.
Lady Parts is written by a Pakistani-Muslim woman, Nida Manzoor, which really makes sense when you look at how rich and real the characters feel. Manzoor manages to question the idea of being a Muslim woman in 21st century Britain and execute it without being openly #girlboss. The group is made up of a diverse set of women who come from different ethnic, professional and family backgrounds. Saira, my favorite, is the leader of the group, very anxious but secretly tender; Bisma is Nigerian, mother and fanzine maker; Ayesha, the crazy sharp tongue threshing machine who wears eyeliner; Momtaz – the group’s producer – a niqabi (someone who wears a niqab or “burqa”) who vapes, which I find both hilarious and badass.
The protagonist of the series, however, is Amina, the lead guitarist. Geek, a hopeless romantic and a bit socially awkward, Amina just wants to be the good Muslim girl her peers expect of her, which means settling down and marrying a good Muslim. Her determination to find a husband is a hilarious but all-too-familiar ordeal: falling in love with disappointing men, glorifying connected beards, and obsessing over Muslim dating apps. When she joins Lady Parts, however, her life becomes a balancing act as she struggles to maintain a secret punk identity in the hopes of being a “good” Muslim girl.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never met any of these types of women in real life, but they each prove to me that the Muslim experience, especially the Muslim woman experience, is extremely diverse, and a great one. part of our stories are yet to be told. Some viewers won’t be happy with these performances or the show’s premise, but others will feel like they’re being seen for the first time. Just as the show is sure to attract criticism for not being properly ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islamic’, the group and its members face external reactions and an internal dilemma of faith management, identity and societal pressure. Discreet, it’s a real meta.
In an interview with Variety, Manzoor reflects on his experience writing characters. “I realized […] I can only speak my truth and represent the women I know. She says most of her character inspiration has come from real life, “art collectives, poetry readings, or musicians.” Taking inspiration from real women has provided a sense of freedom to truly develop an authentic narrative and voice for the show, even if not everyone agrees or agrees. “In a way, those slightly mixed reviews made me realize that I couldn’t represent everyone, and what I found so much joy in doing was speaking my own truth and being myself. connect with the people it speaks to. “
While we often think of portrayal as a matter of being seen, I think there is also room for conversation about the importance of seeing. It’s so easy that the criteria for representation are superficial, but it has guts. I was surprised that a show with so many jokes inside could appeal to a large audience, but seeing movie critic Kate Rodger raving about it proves that it can occupy the fringe and mainstream. Part of me wants to keep the show to myself for its wonderful characters and so rich and personal stories. Watching these different characters on screen reminds me that not all Muslim women wear their identities in the same way. Although we come from different places and paths, our common thread is still brotherhood.
This season is only six 25-minute episodes long, but it’s still filled with jaw-dropping performances, fun sets, a catchy storyline, and cool editing. The songs – my favorites being “Voldemort Under My Headscarf” and “Ain’t No One Gonna Honor Kill My Sister But Me” – are hilarious. Hitting my head at home on these anthems also taught me that punk is more than a cutting-edge musical genre, but a means of self-expression. He has the appearance of being lawless, yet really fun.
While some of the Gen Z humor and slightly over-the-top acting got me confused at times, most of the time I couldn’t help but smile at my screen. We Are Lady Parts is currently available on Neon. I think you should stream it. This is fucking good.
We Are Lady Parts is streaming now.