Anarchy in the UK takes on a whole new meaning with the arrival of “We Are Lady Parts”, Peacock’s punk rock comedy about an all-female Muslim group that sings songs like “Ain’t No One Gonna Honor Kill My Sister But Me ”and“ Voldemort in my scarf. ”They have the qualities and the attitude – now all they need is a lead guitarist, a fan or two, and a concert that is not deep in an uncle’s halal butcher’s shop.
“Almost known”? Not even close, and that’s what makes this hilarious six-part British series, written, directed and produced by Nida Manzoor (“Doctor Who”), so deliciously subversive. The Outsider’s Story, which premieres June 3, is a hilarious hybrid of violent punk rockisms, immigrant insider humor and 21st century feminism. It’s everything you didn’t expect to see in a show about Muslims … or in a series about a struggling garage group. Netflix fans “I have never,” who returns in July, will find inspiration and deep humor in this new group of misfit women as they mix hardcore with hijabs. So haram but so fair.
Rock ‘n’ roll tropes are fresh again when seen through the lens of total underdogs – brunette and black Muslim girls raised on the outskirts of London. They were complained by white liberals, resented by white nationalists, and totally absent from conversations about the next great white hope for rock. But when united by their love of music and their need for rage, they defy expectations and odds, forging their own way to the top of a mountain of almighty noise.
“We Are Lady Parts” focuses on Amina Hussein (Anjana Vasan), a nerdy and modest doctor of microbiology. student and self-taught guitarist whose goal is to find a husband. But while teaching songs to underprivileged young people, the guitar virtuoso was discovered by the emerging group Lady Parts. Amina is reluctantly recruited into the group despite her boxy tendency to wear muted pastels and vomit stage fright. How will she maintain the life of a modest Muslim girl and tear it up in a punk band? The pleasure is to watch her try.
The girls in the group all have their own trials, none of which, refreshingly, have to do with strict Muslim parents or religious edicts. Lead singer Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey) growls like a banshee into the microphone and violently chops the meat during her butchery job. She’s not afraid of anything, it seems, until her boyfriend offers her a long-term, committed relationship. Thresher Ayesha (Juliet Motamed) has a short fuse, which doesn’t help her in her job as an Uber driver. Allah forbids the idiot who makes him angry. Bassist Bisma (Faith Omole) is an earth mother fueled by a furious, riot-proof feminism. She is the author of the comic strip “Period (Apocalypse Vag)”. And she is raising her daughter and her husband at the same time. Manager Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse) swears like Sid Vicious and vapes like Post Malone, but behind her niqab face cover. If only she could book Lady Parts this golden and revolutionary concert.
Breaking boundaries without alienating viewers is the challenge, and “We Are Lady Parts” succeeds with the volume increased to 11. The irreverent comedy began as a short film, part of a Channel 4 initiative in Britain to present new talents – Michaela coel‘s “Chewing Gum”, the forerunner of HBO “I can destroy you” was another show that was born out of the business. The longer series “Lady Parts” has already received praise in the UK, but is America ready for a British Muslim invasion? (Cue the Fox News chyrons.)
The Muslim characters in “We Are Lady Parts” come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, which sounds basic but is a seismic shift considering the biased portrayals of veiled women that have proliferated on television since “I Dream of Jeannie” . The Hollywood version of the Muslim woman is a grieving victim of war, weeping in a pile of rubble as her jihadi husband carelessly uses their children as human shields. Bisma, Saira, Ayesha and all the other characters in the new British series offer an alternate perspective. For example, Amina’s mother does not force her to marry. Mom is the laid back type who wants her trapped daughter to come out and experience life, relax before getting married.
The women of Lady Parts may cry, but it’s into a mic, shouting lyrics that turn tabloid notions into guns about women and Islam: eyeliner / What a bitch! … It’s an honor killing. It is an honor killing. To hell with taboos in this comedy created by and starring Muslim, South Asian, black and Arab women. They have been the target of smear campaigns and fanatic jokes for so long that they have earned the right to satirize this ignorance in their music. The Linda Linda, The all-female Asian and Latin American punk group from LA knows the drill. Their song “Racist, Sexist Boy” recently went viral.
A love for music is palpable throughout “Lady Parts”. The soundtrack was written by Manzoor, his siblings Shez and Sanya Manzoor and Benjamin Fregin. They came up with gems such as “Bashir With the Good Beard”, presumably inspired by Beyoncé’s “Becky with the good hair”. When the band doesn’t get stuck on original material, the show retains its vivid pop culture sensibility as the band takes over Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” with ferocity, headbange in the car to System of a Down and back down to the idea of Amina worshiping an ancient god: Don McLean.
Like “Never Have I Ever”, the series is a big leap for television. Both shows feature South Asian nerds like their sons, moving them from the punchline to main story and giving them the freedom to have messy emotions. They are angry, clumsy, excited and in mourning. The return of the surprise success of Netflix and the anticipation surrounding the arrival of “We Are Lady Parts” marks a landmark summer for under-represented women of various cultures and faiths.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.