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In the enormously appealing British series “We Are Lady Parts,” the chaos and the comedy of a fledgling band — with its members squeezing in practice between day jobs and personal tribulations — comes hilariously to life. The musicians of Lady Parts are angry. They’re goofy. They’re British. They’re Muslim. They’re a sisterhood forged in punk rock.
Created by Nida Manzoor, the London-set series is infused with a modern day riot grrrl-meets-romcom energy. A straight-laced graduate student named Amina (Anjana Vasan) is laser-focused on finding a nice guy to marry. Oh look, there’s one — and he’s handing out fliers advertising, what’s this? Auditions for the punk band called Lady Parts?
The next thing you know, Amina finds herself in a room with an electric guitar thrust into her hands, and that’s how she becomes the newest member of the band — a musical endeavor that’s “one part boredom, two parts identity crisis” — which also includes ride-share driver Ayesha on drums (Juliette Motamed), married mother of one and radical cartoonist Bisma on bass (Faith Omole), butcher-by-day and the band’s unofficial leader Saira on guitar (Sarah Kameela Impey) and their manager Momtaz, who pays the bills working at a lingerie shop (Lucie Shorthouse). They all have strong and distinct personalities, and to crib from one of their songs: They are zombie queens who will eat your brains, but they are also the girls next door who are juggling conflicting demands between what the world wants of them and what the world is actually offering.
Amina is much shier than her new friends and she’s not an obvious choice for the band (she suggests they aim for something less “grrrr” and more “yay!”) but then again maybe she is, because it’s her own nervous stream-of-consciousness that provides the spark for their song “Bashir with the Good Beard.” (The show’s original music was written by Manzoor and her siblings.) The band’s other punk anthems have incredible titles including “Voldemort Under My Headscarf” and “Ain’t No One Gonna Honour Kill My Sister But Me.”
We’re in what looks to be the early stages of musical comedy finding its niche on TV, from “Central Park’' starring Josh Gad to “Schmigadoon!” starring Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key (both on Apple TV+) to “Girls5eva” starring Busy Philipps (on Peacock). “We Are Lady Parts” — also on Peacock — may not have any recognizable stars, but it’s the strongest show of the bunch. The genre has come a long way since 1990′s widely mocked “Cop Rock.”
Full of smash-cuts and rapid-fire dialogue, the six-episode series is subversive and confident and almost merrily rowdy in spirit. Amina may be traditional-minded but her parents have a considerably looser approach and her mother in particular doesn’t understand her rush to find a husband: “I threw away my youth on a good-for-nothing man-child,” she says, then turns to her husband, “No offense.” Him, happily from the couch, “None taken!”
Amina’s enthusiastic embrace of nerdom includes her love of white guy acoustic guitar is lovingly mocked — her eyes light up when someone mentions a Simon & Garfunkel tribute band! — and her imagination is prone to all kinds of pop cultural fantasies that have her inserting herself into everything from “Casablanca” to “A Clockwork Orange” to a performance (in her head, of course) of Radiohead’s “Creep” that left me absolutely shattered. That’s the thing about this show — it hits you in the gut, and then a moment later it’s making you laugh. When Amina finally snags a date with her crush (with the charming Zaqi Ismail) of course she interprets a politely platonic text afterward as something deeper: “Sad, lonely spinster no more,” she says dreamily. “Desirable male hoped I got home OK!”
For the amateur rockers of Lady Parts, being Muslim is integral to who they are and shapes their cultural references, but they all have different ethnic backgrounds (which is subtly but clearly conveyed) and different levels of religious observance, which they neither debate or even comment on. That’s as it should be; they accept one another for who they are because no community is a monolith.
Aside from Amina, we learn the most about guitarist Saira, with her almost comical aversion to romantic commitment and a grunge wardrobe that looks like a throwback to Seattle circa 1995. She is the bruised heart and soul of the band, but also the glue that holds them together. All they expect from one another is friendship and the willingness to shred. Their plan for punk domination (or really, just mild success) falls apart when Ayesha, the drummer, falls for a social media influencer who bats her eyes and snookers them all with an exposé that removes any nuance from their story, painting them as the bad girls of Islam: “Haramed and dangerous.”
A backlash ensues and the band breaks up — it wouldn’t be a band without conflict! — before they eventually find their way back to one another. They share too much to call it quits, not the least of which is a healthy skepticism for their British upbringing. “Broken by the empire,” they sing, “raised by MTV.” But at the end of the day, they’re English through and through, eating “fish and chips for tea.”
Peacock hasn’t announced any plans to renew the show just yet. Here’s hoping “We Are Lady Parts” gets a part two.
'WE ARE LADY PARTS'
3.5 stars (out of 4)
Where to watch: Streaming on Peacock