That’s exactly what Radhika Vaz and Nadia P. Manzoor are trying to find out with their comedy web series, Shugs & Fats. The first episode debuted last fall, and the series has accumulated over 25,000 views and counting. Manzoor, a Pakistani-American actor-writer, plays Shugs (short for Shagufta), and Vaz, an Indian-American comedian, is Fats (short for Fatima).
The show centers on the idea of traditional Muslim women exploring life on the streets of Brooklyn. In each power-packed, three- to four-minute episode, the two find themselves in ridiculous, over-the-top situations like speed dating or trying to figure out what a vibrator does. Through situational comedy, they stumble onto some very real subjects, including sexuality, immigration, body image, and, ultimately, feminism. You’re so busy laughing at their zany antics that the hijab and burqas fade into the background — which is exactly the point.
“I have a lot of friends who wear hijab and are total goofballs, so a part of me wanted to show that we’re just all people,” Manzoor said in a recent interview with Refinery29. “That there’s something beyond our religious choices and our dress choices that connects us and makes us universal. But, often the way we dress — and our race — can prevent us from connecting with another person.”