Like a lot of people, I enjoyed We Are Lady Parts when it debuted on Peacock a couple of years back. It's a fun, six-episode story about a group of Muslim women who form a punk rock band in London, what happens as they try to balance their various family lives with rocking out, and the inevitable clashes that can stem from those different demands. So when there were hints that a second season was in the works, I eagerly awaited the return of my favorite band of sisters.
And I waited. And waited. And then waited some more.
Season 2 of We Are Lady Parts may not have materialized yet, but at least creator, writer and director Nida Manzoor has been putting the time to good use. She's also written and directed a movie called Polite Society, and it just happens to be streaming now on Peacock, the same service that introduced me to Manzoor's other creation. If you're not blocking out time to give Polite Society a watch, you're really cheating yourself out of some kick-ass entertainment.
Polite Society tells the story of Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), a teenager growing up in London whose only desire in life is to become a stuntwoman. Standing in the way of that goal is societal expectations for a British-Pakistani woman, along with Ria's inability to land a flying reverse spin kick.
Fortunately, Ria's got a supportive fan in her older sister, Lena (Ritu Arya). Unfortunately, Lena is going through her own crisis of confidence, having dropped out of art school. But an arranged marriage to handsome geneticist Salim Shah (Akshay Khanna) seems to be just the ticket out of Lena's doldrums.
It's safe to say that Ria opposes the marriage, but is it because Salim plans to whisk Lena out of Ria's life in London and off to Singapore? Or, as Ria imagines, are Salim's intentions more sinister? It's the question at the heart of Polite Society and something that can only be solved by a series of increasingly complex capers, culminating in martial arts battles. Because all good movies should culminate in martial arts.
Polite Society succeeds by upending the action movie genre, replacing the usual testosterone-fueled preening at the center of these kinds of films with a sisterly bond that's both believable and compelling. The Ria-Lena relationship feels authentic, and that adds some heft to Polite Society's stakes. You understand why Ria would feel bereft at her sister's departure even if you suspect her worst suspicions about the pending marriage are the result of an over-active imagination.
It also helps that Polite Society is frequently hilarious — Manzoor has a deft hand writing comedy, after all. Ria's assorted plans to infiltrate Salim's gym and, later, his home are inspired — and the former caper requires some pretty delightful disguises for Ria and her school friends. Rather than the random string of quips that typifies most action movies, Polite Society treats you to genuinely funny exchanges between its characters.
Of course, this is an action movie at its heart, and Polite Society pulls off that aspect, too. At a run time of 104 minutes, the story never drags, as we enjoy the requisite doses of spa torture, chloroform, wedding dances and full-on martial arts brawls.
Back in April, the Radio Times reported production would soon begin on the second season of We Are Lady Parts, with the show set to return at some point in 2024. I hope those episodes find their way to Peacock, but in the meantime, at least I have Polite Society to tide me over.