We Are Lady Parts is back and still achingly cool

Season two of Nida Manzoor’s Bafta-winning comedy, featuring the exploits of a fictional punk band, challenges a number of stereotypes

We Are Lady Parts is back and remains achingly cool
In the second series of We Are Lady Parts, the all-female Muslim punk band face music executives trying to reshape their image. Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh/Peacock/WTTV Limited/Universal International Studios/Channel 4

In a media landscape where even prestige television rarely remains in the public discourse for long and well-reviewed British titles like Lockwood & Co. are cancelled after one series, a second season of Channel 4’s acclaimed We Are Lady Parts was not a guarantee.

Despite being broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic in 2021 — winning a Bafta and a Peabody — the three-year wait made it seem like our time with the all-female Muslim punk band had potentially come to a premature end. Thankfully this month, TV schedules will be further enriched by the raucous antics of the Lady Parts band members, as the second series airs on 30 May. Creator Nida Manzoor’s series proves to not just be a solid sophomore album, but a creative triumph.

As in season one, the band is all here. Anjana Vasan plays Amina, an anxious biochemistry student and reluctant rock star who, despite her musical talent, suffers from stage fright. She’s joined by her old classmate Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey), alongside Bisma (Faith Omole) and Ayesha (Juliette Motamed) in Lady Parts, under the stewardship of their somewhat erratic manager Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse). 

Season one saw the quartet desperately trying to make it in a music industry not used to seeing Muslim women as punk rock stars. Meanwhile, Amina balanced her search for love and acceptance within the conservative constraints of academia.

Watch the trailer for the second season of Bafta-winning We Are Lady Parts. Universal International Studios/Channel 4

Season two of the show feels radical and fresh with Manzoor again presenting young women with complex identities that subvert the simple labels of “good Muslim”, “mother” or even “punk”. The success of Manzoor’s show does not come from bowing to the white gaze. Instead, drawing on her own experiences as a South Asian and Muslim creative whose talents have been fortified by collaborations with the women around her, she brings an accessible authenticity to the series where the jokes and songs hit regardless of your background. 

Seeing a woman in a burka start her own record label or a biochemist in a hijab in the middle of a love triangle makes for powerful representation. It’s a rare thing to see an ensemble of young women like these not treated as a monolith. Each of We Are Lady Parts’ subjects are afforded a complexity that is both wonderful and depressingly unusual. 

But as well as not buying into the stereotypical portrayal of young brown women as joyless or meek victims, Manzoor’s characters are also achingly cool. So much of punk rock is based on inauthentic bravado, as seen by bands like Bowling For Soup, Bush and Sum 41, and inherent coolness cannot be faked. As series one commenced, it was Saira who was the embodiment of devil-may-care rockstar chic with perfectly smudged eyeliner, sharp wit and a commitment to anarchy. While the band then temporarily fell apart, by the season finale they were reunited and ready to embark on a national tour.

But as the new series unfolds over six episodes, the ensemble feels just as aspirational, with band members able to balance home lives, grow in confidence as performers and look impeccably stylish at all times. Amina in particular has come a long way, less concerned with the opinions of others and content to forge her own path. Bisma’s journey explores how motherhood does not need to come at the sacrifice of identity. Meanwhile, Momtaz realises she can achieve anything she sets her mind to, and Ayesha explores balancing being queer and Muslim under a spotlight.

The band are reinvigorated after their first UK tour, but also facing musical rivals and dealing with industry executives who want to reshape their image to make them more marketable. Gone are the days where MTV and a national radio station could make someone an overnight success, and We Are Lady Parts shows the reality of the grind in an era of streaming music platforms. Their tour may have been a success but it only netted the band £200, and they now face swallowing their pride to take gigs to pay for the studio time needed to record an album. 

But this is always a fictional band that you can believe in, and their onstage swagger and catchy songs make you long to jump into the TV and see their gigs live. Even though just spending more time with these characters is more than ample reason to put down TikTok, the cameos in season two, including comedy legend Meera Syal and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, are an utter delight. 

One can only hope that the wait for a third season of We Are Lady Parts won’t be as long and that with each series, the show becomes part of a landscape populated by a plethora of equally dynamic and distinct Muslim female talent. But for now, these are six half hours of pure dopamine, and no matter how crowded the streaming landscape is, there is always room for unadulterated joy. 

Season two of We Are Lady Parts premieres on Channel 4 at 10pm on 30 May.


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