We Are Lady Parts on Channel 4

We Are Lady Parts review: the hilarious, joy-infused comedy bringing punk rock to the forefront 

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Writer and director Nida Manzoor brings us a brand new comedy that effortlessly connects the worlds of four Muslim women and punk rock. 

There are some things you don’t expect to see, but when you see them you wonder where they’ve been all your life.  Channel 4’s latest quick-witted comedy, We Are Lady Parts, is exactly one of those things. Focusing on the lives of an all-female Muslim punk band hailing from east London, the six-part TV show is gloriously joyful, funny and clever in equal measure. Not only does the show seamlessly blend together four Muslim women’s love affair with punk rock – a genre typically saturated by white artists – but it shows different types of Muslim people, particularly women, in a cheerful light.  

The series starts out by letting us into the world of awkward, geeky and shy PhD student at Queen Mary University of London, Amina Hussein, played by Anjana Vasan (Mogul Mowgli), who’s comedic timing is second to none, as she sets off on her quest to find a husband. What’s more apparent, though, is her secret love of music. American folk rock musician Don McLean takes the top spot as her favourite artist and her instrument of choice is the guitar – although she only plays in private due to a heavy case of stage fright. 

By chance, Amina finds herself at auditions for lead guitar of Muslim punk band Lady Parts but doesn’t actually audition. In fact, she runs away – much to the intrigue of the band’s current members, who all have careers as varied as their punk personas: Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey) is a halal butcher by day and lead vocalist by night; foul-mouthed drummer Ayesha (Juliette Motamed), whose ‘take no prisoners’ attitude works pretty well in her day job as an Uber driver; bassist Bisma (Faith Omole), who sells feminist graphic novels; and upfront band manager Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse), who works in a lingerie shop.

We Are Lady Parts TV Show Review Amina Hussain
We Are Lady Parts Review: Amina Hussain (Anjana Vasan)

Over the course of the first couple of episodes, the band discovers Amina’s guitar skills and she grows to love playing with them. That’s not to say it’s all perfect. Initially, she has hesitations about the lyrics of one of their songs, Voldemort Under My Headscarf, where she implies it’s a little too inappropriate. But later on in the series, Amina’s frustration with her dating life leads her to pen her own punk-laced song, Bashir With The Good Beard – a nod to Beyoncé’s famous ‘Becky with the good hair’ lyric. This is a new representation of Muslim women on screen, as they’re all people who defy the typically passive portrayal we so often see on TV.

The show is brimming with the punk rock music they create and showcases their experiences with love, culture and wider frustrations. You can’t help but fall in love with their passion for it. The multiple car montages where they can be seen singing along to songs like Toxicity by System Of A Down speak to that very feeling. The music is in large part a reflection of the show’s writer and director Nida Manzoor’s love for it. Although she’s previously directed BBC Three’s TV show, Enterprice (starring Kayode Ewumi and Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge) and two episodes of Doctor Who, this is the first project she’s written and directed that is partially inspired by her own life as a Muslim woman. “[There were] a number of things coalesced at the same time – I was slightly frustrated with the portrayals of Muslim women shrouded in seriousness so I just wanted to smash that apart,” she told The Times. “I grew up in a musical household, my family all play, so I wanted women who could be punks and Muslims. Those are the women I love.” She even wrote the songs they perform in the show with her siblings and her brother taught the show’s cast the songs as they filmed, which is, by all accounts, truly punk rock.  

We Are Lady Parts TV Show Review Band Practise
We Are Lady Parts: a second series has just been confirmed of the hit comedy.

The brilliance of We Are Lady Parts lies in the sharing of multiple truths of Muslim identity, from what it’s like to be queer to what it’s like to be a Black Muslim woman and even having parents that encourage Amina’s thirst for punk rock. Throughout the show, the band are unabashedly punk, though still respectful of their heritage. Others, like Amina’s potential love interest throughout the show, Hasan, don’t claim to be subsumed by things like prayer. When asked which mosque he goes to, he fumbles his way through a made up answer: “my local one – at the end of the road – ye olde local,” he says.

In contrast, Amina’s close friendship group, headed up by her soon-to-be engaged best friend, Noor, have an outlook that falls on the more traditional side. When one of their friends accidentally sends a playlist packed with sexually-charged songs, including Ginuwine’s Pony and Bob Marley’s Girl I Want To Make You Sweat to use for the engagement party to her finance, it’s clear that music so explicit isn’t accepted. Tears are dramatically shed, but again, this a moment of humour rather than contention. It’s important to see humour injected into these situations when it can verge on being a very serious issue. This show aims to add a lightness into our perceptions of Muslim women.  

We Are Lady Parts TV Show Review Noor and friends
We Are Lady Parts Review: Noor and her friends.

At the heart of it, the show is a love letter to music, scattered with punchlines that approach, explore and at times, dismantle stereotypes. But above all, it’s brilliantly funny and who doesn’t need that right now? 

We Are Lady Parts is available to stream from 10pm tonight on 4od.

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Images: courtesy of Channel 4

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