The Show is a Genuine Celebration of Radical Muslim Women
Call me a pessimist, but I have become wholeheartedly apprehensive about Muslim representation in any form. Mainstream media doesn’t tend to favour us — we are either the oppressed or the terrorists. There is no in-between. Unfortunately, being perceived through the lens of non-Muslims with virtually no real understanding of the religion has become a gateway to the othering of Muslims. With the introduction of the Riz Test, “a project to measure the portrayal of Muslims in film and TV… creating a data set that measures how poorly Muslims are represented”, an even gloomier portrait of the future of Muslim representation has been painted, with several high-profile shows failing the test.
But Nida Manzoor’s ‘We Are Lady Parts’, subverted everything its predecessors had normalised, and actually … pleasantly surprised me?
From the get-go, ‘We Are Lady Parts’ isn’t what you’d expect. Following Amina, a PHD student who despite her stage fright joins as the lead guitarist in an all-woman, Muslim punk-rock band, the 6 episodes released integrate a more complex examination into Muslim womanhood than I’ve ever seen before. Rather than fall to the tired, white-saviour heavy tropes of shows such as Elité, it represents a vital aspect of Muslim identity — the dichotomy of being faithful to and loving your religion, whilst simultaneously being a human capable of mistakes.
What stands out to me about ‘Lady Parts’ as a show is that it exemplifies Muslims as not being a monolith. Instead of being reduced to one stereotype, they’re allowed to exist freely as who they are, accurately reflecting the melting pot of different individuals that form the religion. This subsequently allows Muslim women to reclaim their power — they’re allowed to just be, beyond their religious identity. Heightened in episodes that examine the backlash Amina gets from joining the band, it organically displays how she grapples with not immediately identifying with ways people such as her best friend, Noor, practice their religion.
And the best part? Opposing the model set by existing TV shows, Amina does not, in fact, take her hijab off for the white love interest. Safe to say, ‘We Are Lady Parts’, is a fresh, entertaining look at Muslim identity and deserves all the praise it gets.