“We are lady parts“Is a clever wink to the audience, a rebel scream from its characters and a questioning of our assumptions. In the half-hour comedy with six episodes by showrunner, director and author Nida Manzoor, the jokes, sight gags and fantasy sequences fly fast and furious. The friendships and romantic relationships are tenderly developed and reproduced organically. And the cast of Middle Eastern, Arab, South Asian, black and biracial actors and actresses who embody this nuanced, thoughtful, confrontational and adoring portrait of modern Muslims are perfect in summary. Whatever your expectations of the show’s general premise that “all-female punk bands struggle to reconcile their personalized interpretations of Islam while emphasizing their commitment to the music and one another,” the lively, fun, and amiable “We Are Lady Parts “. (Streaming on peacock June 3) will surpass them.
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In the first minutes of the premiere episode “Play something“The 26 year old Amina (Anjana Vasan) and her parents meet with a potential future husband and his parents. In her modest but colorful outfit with a coordinating hijab, a smile on her face and a pleasant tone in her voice, Amina tries to make small talk with this intense, strict man. Will you fall in love? Will his conservative family accept them? Wandering into a fantasy sequence, Amina imagines the “shoulders of a Mesopotamian warlord” breaking free from his traditional clothing before “our eyes meet over the sand dunes” – and before her parents break the entire interview by they bring up their guitar playing.
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The potential match is rejected because Amina’s outfit is too colorful for the man’s parents and her public music performance is haram – but Amina’s parents are not disappointed. They are not fundamentalists who force them to marry. Instead, they would prefer to complete their Ph.D. in microbiology, work for a while, live alone, and maybe date. Amina wears a hijab, but her mother doesn’t; Amina is in a hurry to get married and settle down, but her parents do not understand why. Their home is divided by the generational differences in Islamic practice, but not as most American viewers would assume.
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Meanwhile, Lady Parts – a trio of Muslim women who play sneering, growling punk rock songs about their religion, gender, and life – get ready for band rehearsals across town. Like Amina and her parents, they differ in the interpretation of their beliefs. Guitarist and lead singer Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey) is covered in tattoos, does not wear a hijab, and is estranged from her family. Nevertheless, she also works as a halal butcher, recites poetry and takes her music seriously. “We just try to tell our truth before we get mutilated by other people’s shitty ideas about us,” she says. Although bassist Bisma (Belief omole) and drummer Ayesha (Juliette Motamed) are on the same wavelength, they are not nearly as intense. Bisma is more of an earth mother type, an environmentalist and naturalist who raises her daughter to be a feminist. Ayesha is the bro-y who enjoys drowning out her racist Uber drivers with loud screamo and is not afraid to literally step on Saira and tower over her. And the group is led by Momtaz (Lucie Kurzhaus), a social media fan and perhaps arsonist who blows vape smoke from under her niqab and burqa.
When Saira decides the group would benefit from having a lead guitarist, their paths cross paths with Amina’s. Does Amina, who suffers from terrible stage fright and fears that membership in the band will affect her chances of finding a husband, want to become Lady Parts? She doesn’t. Yet when she is dragged into the group’s orbit, Amina begins to rethink her narrow definition of what it means to be a Muslim woman. Bisma, Ayesha and Momtaz all dress modestly, Saira studies religion and keeps her own diary of observations on the faith and its teachings, and they all play and listen to punk rock. This is not to say that these women should, or become, friends right away just because they are of the same religion. But what “We Are Lady Parts” does, by tracing Amina’s journey to befriend the band and then become part of it, recognizes, addresses and supports the many ways that Muslim women can act, be, identify and exist . None of these preferences in fashion, ideology or lifestyle are wrong, Manzoor emphasizes in each episode, whether they are what you want to do, whether they live authentically and if they don’t hurt anyone by living that way.
“We Are Lady Parts” does not teach or scold these ideas. Instead, the tone lies somewhere between the absurdity of “This is Spinal Tap“, The seriousness of the early season”joy“And the winking humor of”30 rocks. ”Vasan’s Amina is prone to daydreams relating to classic movies or other television shows, and the structure of some of the midseason episodes is reminiscent of the double-life plots of the coming-of-age classic, Bend It Like Beckham. Any slight predictability in this narrative, however, is countered by the excellence of Amina and the rest of the cast. As Amina, Vasan effectively conveys the character’s initial innocence in the antics of Lady Parts: “Some people might find it offensive? I love to wear my headscarf, ”she said shyly of lyrics during their first band meeting, a criticism that made Ayesha angry. In the course of the episodes we see Amina growing more and more into herself, a transformation that Vasan communicates through her flowing body language and declarative line deliveries; a scene in which Amina appears successfully in public for the first time without throwing up is perfectly accentuated by the happy expression on Vasan’s face. Impey, whose Saira is essentially a co-lead, is equally excellent. In the final two episodes “Represent” and “Sparta”, Saira is differently fragile, tormented and angry, and Impey bears the wounding and betrayal of the character.
All that intensity pays off in what is from top to bottom one of the most audience-friendly scenes on TV this year. This cathartic conclusion is the result of one satisfying scene after another, from the ferocity of Lady Parts rehearsing as they practice songs like “Ain’t No One Gonna Honor Kill My Sister But Me” and “Voldemort Under My Headscarf” to to a band foray into the British wilderness where they talk shit about colonialism and get high, to an argument between Saira and Amina’s best friend Noor (Aiysha Hart), on a groundbreaking conversation between Amina and her mother Seema (Shobu Kapoor) about their different religious beliefs. “We are sisters who pray together, play together, and tell our truth to anyone who may be asked to listen,” Saira says of her manifesto, and “We Are Lady Parts” brings those words to a happy, invigorating life. [A]