We Are Lady Parts, is a bold and entertaining new sitcom about an all-female, all-Muslim punk rock band. It follows the journey of Amina Hussein, a 26-year-old PhD student searching for a loving husband. But instead, she finds We Are Lady Parts, a punk rock band with killer songs like ‘Ain’t No One Gonna Honour Kill My Sister But Me’.

Here’s why this is the perfect show when it comes to representation.

Devilifying the hijab

Beyond a rocking soundtrack and excellent humour, We Are Lady Parts has gone where few mainstream TV shows have gone before. The main characters are all people of colour and Muslim, which is practically unheard of. Normally, a show with great representation will have a mostly white cast with a little colour thrown in for good measure. But We Are Lady Parts is different.

To see so many main characters on screen flaunting different hijab styles was astounding. But more importantly, these characters break the stereotype that hijabi women are meek and submissive. My whole life, I have been the type of girl who is loud, opinionated and audacious — I also happen to wear a hijab. This piece of religious attire tends to draw comments and surprised looks given my contradictory behaviour. For all these reasons the show has been a revelation; especially in the absence of the tired trope of the hijabi woman removing her ‘oppressive’ hijab in the name of liberation. Lady Parts pokes fun at how white British society generalises Muslim women as victims of a misogynistic religion. Ayesha and Momtaz, the drummer and band manager respectively, tackle hostile comments with sarcasm and style. Whether these are about men forcing women to be employed as Uber drivers or demanding that they wear a niqab, ignorance has an antidote and its name is truth.

The importance of authentic representation

What is perhaps most refreshing about this show is the use of narration through Amina’s character. Ordinarily, I dislike narration as a narrative technique which can feel lazy and tedious if the goal is to educate the audience about a remote issue. But We Are Lady Parts doesn’t fall into this trap. Instead, it relies on the audience’s intelligence to grasp unfamiliar cultural details. The show doesn’t wish to educate about Muslim womanhood — something that often results when ‘white creators [are] behind-the-scenes’.  And this is the single best thing about it; the fact that it was created, written and directed by Nida Manzoor — a Pakistani Muslim woman.   Manzoor made a point to accurately represent Muslim women. Having her at the helm shows that it’s very possible to have authentic scriptwriting when there is a diverse crew behind the camera.

Although well-received by critics and audiences alike, there have been a few criticisms. It has been suggested that although We Are Lady Parts has a ‘radical premise [it] is effectively Modern Sitcom 101′. I happen to disagree.

To call it a mere sitcom is to trivialise the nature of the show’s subject. Lady Parts is a bold look at an often-ignored and misunderstood community. For instance, a key plot point occurs in Episode 5 when a journalist publishes an article about the band, calling them the ‘Bad Girls of Islam’. This naturally causes tension and the band temporarily break up. Criticism from the Muslim community shortly follows, with members seeing this as a   ‘betrayal’ because the article depicts Muslim women in an unfavourable light. But why all the fuss over a stupid article? you might ask. Well, Muslim women, including myself, grow up knowing that we need to constantly show a positive perspective of Islam in order to combat the negative stigma. This was especially true when I lived in predominantly white areas where the only Muslims in school were myself and my siblings. In these places, most people I knew had never met other Muslims besides us. So it became my responsibility to represent an entire religion; something that was daunting and exhausting. It may certainly be true that the plot in We Are Lady Parts is a familiar one, but its subject matter is not. This is a show that invites the audience to explore the experiences and feelings of a community that television rarely examines in a nuanced manner.

We Are Lady Parts is a move in the right direction for much-needed Muslim representation on television. It shows that we can create narratives that authentically represent different communities while also telling entertaining stories.

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