We Are Lady Parts comes from the creative mind of Nida Manzoor, who wrote and directed all six episodes of this series. It is centered around a girl band called Lady Parts, an all-Middle Eastern Muslim female rock band. The series originally aired on the UK Channel called Channel 4, but it was picked up by streaming service Peacock in the states. The first episode, entitled “Play Something,” centers around lead singer Amina’s (Anjana Vasan) first interactions with the group of girls. She is the narrator and the eyes through which the audience can experience this world. I love how the audience is introduced to Amina because it highlights her obligation to be a good Muslim daughter. Despite doing her best to impress the potential suitor’s family, they bring up the fact that she plays and sings guitar. In Muslim culture, such an act is considered haram, meaning forbidden; thus, Amina laments the meeting being a train crash.
Saira (Sarah Kameela)is the original lady singer for Lady Parts, and I like her for how direct she is with her other band members and everyone she comes across. She works at a butcher shop, and her boss is critical of her desire to pursue music, even asking, “Why do you want to be a famous pop star. Saira responds, “We don’t seek fame. We simply seek to speak our truth before we’re mangled by other people’s bullshit ideas of us. Our music is about representation. It’s about being heard.” Her boss responds with, “You should wash your hair if you want to be heard.” The oppression within this simple conversation is striking, and I fear all too common. Still, it educates everyone outside of that culture of just how unconventional this band and its message is in modern society.
Ayesha (Juliette Mohamed) is the group’s drummer, and she drives an Uber for money. She is hassled by three privileged British college students who happen to be racist and her passengers. She handles the whole drive like a pro and has some of the best comebacks when attacked for her culture that I’ve retorts for racist stereotyping I’ve ever heard. I like Ayesha because she doesn’t wait to defend herself in any situation. She’s just ready and unapologetic about how she protects herself.
The band’s manager, Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse), is a total mystery. She has rumored to have done things, but no one knows what her background truly is. All that is known is that she cares about the other band members, and that’s it. She also happens to work in a lingerie shop and has a hilarious interaction with an older woman who needs to buy new underwear. I feel like I will know more about that character as the series goes on, but I like that she’s a mystery.
The last person that we are introduced to is Bisma (Faith Omole). She is by far my favorite character, mostly because she’s an earth mother. She writes a comic book about women who become homicidal the moment they get their period. The title of this comic is The Killing Period: Apocolypse Vag. The writer of We Are Lady Parts is expressive to the extreme, and it’s that artistic freedom that really makes all these characters sing no matter what they do.
The episode spends the remainder of its introduction explaining why Amina has such a difficult time performing. Most of her anxiety comes from how she would be perceived. This is why, at the community fair, when she has to be the solo guitarist in her students’ band, she throws up in a giant garbage can. The episode also spends time looking at how isolated she feels now that her friends are married or engaged. I love this piece of the story because it highlights how disconnected it can feel when you want to follow tradition, but there aren’t people in your community that support what you love.
We Are Lady Parts should be seen by everyone. It’s landmark television because of its subject matter, but it informs as well as it entertains, and for the first episode of a series, that is a hard balance to master. I can only hope the further installments give a voice to such an underrepresented part of the population. This show rocks!