May 13, 2015 · 8:45 AM EDT
Nadia Manzoor is on a crusade to use humor and honesty to talk about the challenges she faced as a young Muslim immigrant coming of age in the US. She’s the creator of Shugs and Fats, a web comedy series about two Muslim women who’ve recently immigrated to Brooklyn, New York.
Manzoor plays Shugs, dressed in gold chains and bedazzled hijabs. Her co-star, Indian comedian Radhika Vaz, plays Fats, and is slightly more subdued. The two women explore life in their new, Western home, and most of the time they’re not doing anything that rebellious. They’re trying a juice cleanse, working out at the gym, or buying a pile of maxi pads from the Yemeni guy at the corner bodega. Occasionally it gets a little racier.
“I think that’s part of where the humor is — ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that Shugs and Fats got a vibrator and didn’t know what it was about,” Manzoor says. “Why is that hilarious? Because we don’t think about women in burqas being sexually expressed or understanding sexual fulfillment, necessarily.”
The intent is to show audiences the often unseen perspective of Muslim women. Even though Manzoor and Vaz don’t wear hijabs in their daily lives, they both come from traditional backgrounds. And, as Manzoor explains, the hijab is the mouthpiece for traditionalism