Here’s Ms. Marvel Episode 2 Workshop! Let’s break down “Crushed.” Remember, you can find all the reels for each episode by searching the hashtag #MsMarvelWorkshop on Instagram.
What I Liked
I liked the reference to political realities that Kamala’s entire family faces. Here’s that family element I was hoping to see! The first is the Partition–although this may seem like it primarily impacts her parents, we do see the effects of intergenerational trauma. Kamala struggling with her superpowers due to trauma in her family is a great choice the show makes and I can’t wait to see how the show resolves the story with her great-grandma. The second political reality is the reference to FBI surveillance of Muslim communities. This is something only Muslims creating a show like this would be brave enough to throw in, and I’m so glad the show had so many Muslims so heavily involved in its creation–you can really tell! I also loved the bit about searching temples and community centers, not just mosques. Many times government surveillance can be indiscriminate among marginalized groups. It also reminds us of the importance of marginalized groups working together to support the greater good.
I also liked the positive messaging around wearing the hijab. Nakia mentions that she feels like herself and has a sense of purpose when she wears the hijab. I’m excited at the extensions this has through analogy within the conversation of Kamala talking about changes she’s experiencing developing her superhero powers–is Nakia wearing the hijab her own superpower? I also like the quick reference to her parents not approving of her wearing the hijab. This nuance is something not lost to me, although maybe it is lost to viewers from other faith backgrounds because I experienced the same situation when I started wearing hijab in high school. (Don’t worry, my family is very supportive of me and turned things around within a year of me wearing hijab!) I enjoy the B-plot of Nakia running for the masjid board, although I do think the problems within the masjid are slightly caricatured. I have been in a masjid though with a woeful wudu station and mold in the carpet only on the women’s side, so…I can relate, but I still feel like it’s played up for comedic purposes. Some Muslims may be angry watching this. Why is this show airing out our dirty laundry? We already have so many bad stereotypes to fight against! This is proving that Muslims oppress Muslim women! You know, all those objections. To these, I say that part of authentic storytelling is not sugarcoating or glazing over things we’d rather not talk about. Everything mentioned definitely has real-world impacts in real lives, so caution must always be taken. But, with a plethora of stories out there on Muslims, with conversations started by people from within the community (like myself), and with how the show will continue to tackle the issues presented, hopefully, a nuanced understanding of the issue may be offered to audiences of other backgrounds. It’s also important to separate the practice of Muslims from what Islam preaches–and misogyny touches many Muslim spaces, just like it touches the majority of the world.
What I Disliked
I didn’t like that Kamala and Kamran go on their secret hot date to a restaurant called Bombay Spice. This is basically located in the Artesia (California), Devon (Chicago), or Gerrard St. (Toronto). Either these young Desi kids are entirely idiotic and have zero stealth mode skills, or the show made a stupid choice for the ease of Amir finding Kamala out with a boy (who isn’t Bruno?). I am leaning towards the show making a careless decision because the first thing any Muslim teenager doing anything shady would think is, will anyone in my family or anyone who knows anyone in my family see me being shady? That restaurant definitely has some Illumin-Aunties present. Kamran being mentioned as a cousin creates a plot hole: Amir would have gone home and told his parents and they all would have insisted on having Kamran over for dinner because he’s family and that’s just what South Asians do. I did love the haram.kamran joke! And porn is a huge issue in the Muslim community, just like in the general American community, okay?!
A Question for the Show
A question I had is how practicing is Amir, Kamala’s brother? He only wears traditional Pakistani attire called shalwar kameez, which has some religious/modesty connotations. Personally, I believe if he is wearing this due to his religious commitment towards modesty, I think he would be wearing thobes, which is a dress Arab men wear more often and which some Muslims ignorantly think is the best way to dress because it mimics Arab culture. (This is untrue–and honestly, the basic Desi shalwar kameez is so modest and functional at the same time!) Back to the point–he also prays and recites Quran and all that stuff, so he’s obviously meant to be more “conservative” or “practicing” than the rest of his family. This also tracks with the comics. But at the same time, he is constantly touching his fiance! What?! This is something Muslims who are concerned about practicing their faith to the point they avoid wearing American clothes (pants and shirts) would not do, at least in my book! Touching a member of the opposite gender is a huge no-no in Islam. This inconsistency is confusing to me. I’d like to know why Amir is depicted wearing shalwar kameez and how “practicing” he is meant to come off because I am getting mixed messages based on his conflicting actions.
I hope to go into more depth on all of these issues and even more in upcoming podcast episodes on the show. Stay tuned to Brown Teacher Reads–on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.