REVIEW – WE ARE LADY PARTS

By: Mohamed Sidki

It is no secret that Western media has refused to present Muslims, and Brown-skinned Peoples in general, as anything but terrorists (“Back to the Future,” “24,” “Homeland”) or your average, generic evil henchmen (the first THREE “Indiana Jones” movies). Growing up as an Arab Muslim in America in the 1980s and 1990s, there were hardly any characters who looked like me in the movies or on T.V. that anyone could’ve consider a positive role model, so I ended up looking forward to whenever Brown-centric movies like “La Bamba” or “Stand and Deliver” aired on HBO, and any scene featuring Mario Lopez was in “Saved by the Bell.” (It’s not like the Latinx communities have had an easier time navigating showbiz either, and it is a subject that will be explored many times on this site.)

There has been some progress over the last couple of years but, it’s been excruciatingly slow. And unfortunately, that progress is still beholden to “The White Gaze,” so we end up with projects by writer-performers such as Aziz Ansari and Kumail Nanjiani who center their material around mocking Muslim women for being, in their eyes, “backwards” and “unassimulated,” while they themselves lust after white women. Media gate keeping has prevented a diverse array of Brown Peoples and Muslims from presenting all forms of our true selves. The fact that, “We Are Lady Parts” even exists is a miracle from Allah.

“We are Lady Parts” is a British half-hour comedy series written and directed by Nida Monzoor (“Doctor Who”) about members of an all-female, all-Muslim punk rock (Sarah Kameela Impey, Juliette Motamed, Faith Omole) and their nakab-wearing, vape-smoking manager (Lucie Shorthouse) who search for a lead guitarist in order to enter a Battle of the Bands-style competition, which could be the jumpstart the group needs to have a sustainable music career. So, enter: Amina Hussein, our main protagonist and narrator (Anjana Vasan, in what is one of the best comedic performances ever to stream or air on television).

Amina is a killer guitarist but she suffers from a crippling stage fright that leads to vomiting and the occasional uncontrollable “pooing.” She is also a square who has put a lot of pressure on herself to live a life that she thinks is worthy of a model Muslim, from becoming a world-renowned scientist to marrying the “right” man. It is in her Jane Austen-esque quest to find a husband — a quest that neither of her British Indian parents are in a rush for her to undertake — that she ends up in Lady Parts, after falling head over heels for the brother of one of her future bandmates.

The series does not shortchange the other members of Lady Parts. We get to know the British Iraqi drummer Ayesha (Motamed) who has the personality of a soccer hooligan; Afro-British bassist Bisma (Omole) who is not only a mother who teachers her pre-teen daughter fourth-wave feminist philosophies but is also a struggling comic book writer and artist who recently self-published a tale of young women who become “homicidal maniacs on their periods;” the black nakab-clad band manager Momtaz (Shorthouse) who makes ends meet by selling “shag me hard” lingerie to middle aged Muslim women; and British Pakistani lead singer Saira (Impley) who works in a halal butcher shop and has a battle-earned chip on her shoulder. Together, these five young Brown and Black Muslim women from different backgrounds and distinctly different personalities take on anyone and everyone who strips them, other Muslim women, and Muslims in general, of their agency and humanity in the best way they can: through music.

(Some of the songs, like “Bashir with the Good Beard” are original tunes co-written by Manzoor and her musician siblings, and are catchy as hell.)

And what is truly refreshing about “We Are Lady Parts” is that it is not told through “The White Gaze.” There are no instances of these young women feeling torn between the “traditional” and “oppressive” Muslim world, and white, “freedom-loving” Britain. No Muslim man is bashed for believing in a “backwards” religion, though a couple of the male characters get occasionally called out for their misogyny but only in the context that they are your typical dumb guys saying dumb things in a sitcom. (There is a wonderful spoof of a sequence from Kumail Nanjiani’s “The Big Sick” where it is Amina, a Brown Muslim woman, who this time is the one meeting ridiculous potential mates but it occurs only AFTER she tries to move on from the young Muslim man she has a crush on. And it’s never Islam or some secret want she has to fit into white society that makes these men awful. They just suck.)

The members of Lady Parts are proud Muslims, proud women, proud of their Black and Brown heritages, and proud musicians. And that’s what makes “We are Lady Parts” one of the best shows of 2021. A must-watch!

All 6 episodes of “We are Lady Parts” Season 1 are currently streaming on Peacock.

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

Lana Parrilla

Lana Parrilla from Once Upon A Time

The first Heroes & Villains Fan Fest has come and gone in San Jose, CA. Passionate fans showed up as their favorite characters from the sci-fi, superhero and fantasy worlds. The event lasted two days and included exclusive panels, celebrity photo opportunities, kids area, and vendors for all your collectible figures, art and comic book needs.

The crowd was small in numbers but large in enthusiasm. During a Q&A session with Rebecca Mader in which she was asked about her favorite shows she exclaimed, “I’d be a female Dr. Who for free”! During Lana Parrilla’s panel we learned that she really likes being the evil queen. She said there was just something about being able to do things others can’t or wouldn’t do.

Rebecca Mader

Rebecca Mader from Once Upon A Time

Fans ponied up $50-$300 to get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities. They took photos and got autographs at private booths set-up throughout the festival. VIP ticket packages ranged from $180-$850, regular tickets were $40 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday and $65 for both days. With all the happy fans I saw, I expect this to become an annual event that can only get better and hopefully not more expensive.

 

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6 Trailer

Walking Dead fans are going crazy at the newly released trailer for Season 6. Those attending the panel at San Diego Comic-Con in Hall H got the first peak at the almost 4 minute video. The series will return Sunday, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. with a special 90-minute episode.  What do you think?

Cookie Lyon takes over the street – Sesame Street

Cookie Lyon in Red Fur coatTaraji Penda Henson who plays Cookie Lyon on the hit drama Empire made a guest appearance on SNL this weekend. In one of the sketches Cookie visits Sesame Street and chaos ensues, Elmo is still missing.

Henson is also known for her roles as Yvette in Baby Boy (2001), Shug in Hustle & Flow (2005) and Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009.

San Diego Comic-Con 2014

San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone. No more sleeping on the sidewalk to get into Hall H. Comic book Superhero’s will no longer be at your every turn. The long lines and aching feet will be forgotten as we reminisce and look through our photos and begin to anticipate Comic-Con 2015.

Firefly 10-Year Reunion at Comic-Con

Firefly 10th Year Anniversary

Summer Glau, Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk reunited for a Firefly panel at San Diego Comic-con International 2012. The short-lived sci-fi show’s creator Joss Whedon and writer Tim Minear also participated in what probably is the most emotional panel of this year’s Comic-con.

 

True Blood Cast

True Blood Cast

The True Blood cast held a panel at Comic-Con to talk to fans about the upcoming season. The cast also had fun teasing Joe Manganiello (Alcide Herveaux) about his dance moves in “Magic Mike”. A good sport, he turned it around and taught his fellow cast mates to do a body roll. Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse) was dared to do a hand stand, after cheers from the audience he took it up a notch and walked across the stage almost falling at the end. With so much chemistry on stage it’s no wonder the show is a hit.

A&E introduces the “Coma” Experience at Comic-Con 2012

IMG_6389

A&E introduces the “Coma” Experience at Comic-Con 2012. Fans are able to partake in an immersive experience based on the A&E mini-series from Ridley & Tony Scott, located right outside of the convention center on 1st Ave & Ave J, from July 12-14, 11AM-9PM. The experience offers fans 4 different areas where they can get a first look, interact with nurses and doctors from the the ominous coma patient institute and check out set pieces from the mini-series.
Coma” is a two-night special event starring James Woods, Geena Davis, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn, Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) and Stephen Pasquale (“Rescue Me”) premiering on A&E, Monday, September 3 and concluding on Tuesday, September 4 at 9PM ET/PT each night. In “Coma,” a young doctor (Lauren Ambrose) discovers that something sinister is going on in her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table.

“Coma” is produced by Sony Pictures Television for A&E Network. Executive producers are Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David W. Zucker, Martin Erlichman and Mikael Salomon.

For a fully immersive experience that extends beyond Comic-Con, fans can go to www.comaconspiracy.com where they can activate a thrilling digital experience.

Robot Chicken Panel – Adult Swim – Comic-Con

Robot Chicken Panel

Co-creators Matthew Senreich and Seth Green are joined by co-head writer Tom Root, actor/writer Breckin Meyer and writer Matthew Beans with special guest DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns to discuss the upcoming Robot Chicken DC Comics Special. Fans were treated to an exclusive sneak peek of the hour-long special, and got to ask the panel questions.