Flashy cars, Chanel and Iranians: A review of “Shahs of Sunset”

TV network Bravo presented viewers with a new show called “Shahs of Sunset” in March, following wealthy Iranian-Americans living in Beverly Hills. After only six episodes, fans are excited to learn that the cast is returning with a second season of flashy cars, high fashion, tons of drama and a spicy mix of the Iranian culture.
The show’s goal was to focus on the difficulties Iranians faced after fleeing the country and living their lives as refugees in the States. Refugees, however, are a little difficult to envision when you witness the cast’s luxurious lifestyle.
Season One focused on the lives of daddy’s girl Golnesa “GG” Gharachedghi, Juice head Mike Shouhed, ladies’ man Sammy Younai, upcoming artist Asa Rahmati, struggling gay Reza Farahan and drama queen Mercedeh “MJ” Javid. Despite their difficult childhoods, the group of friends have become successful within their careers. Although GG is jobless, she remains under daddy’s finances.
Though the “Shahs” brought in nearly 1.5 million viewers an episode, the show has become criticized by many among the Persian-Americans for inaccurate portrayals of their community. Many have stated that the show portrays Iranians in a negative light, and that it gives people a bad perception of them.
That’s nothing different of the Hollywood stereotype, though. To add, Reza’s sexuality is the most controversial as he is openly gay and proud. Coming from a country were being gay is criminalized, many sympathize with Reza’s journey of coming out in the public eye.
In addition, the cast goes through several journeys including Asa’s career as an artist. The singer and art producer has become idolized by many Iranians for not following the expectations of Iranian women who are taught not to speak their mind. Instead, she tells all through her songs, which portray the difficulty of living as a refugee.
As an Iranian-American myself, I can’t say I truly relate to cast of “Shahs of Sunset.” However, I do understand the expectations of the culture such as pressures to succeed financially, get married and have children.
Despite the drama, flashiness and crazy cast portrayed by the show, I believe it’s important for a show like this to be seen in America in order to bring some type of understanding of Iranians in a time when tensions and misunderstandings may be at an all time high between the two peoples.
The country may be on “the other side of the world,” but a large Iranian community exists right here in Los Angeles. The show does a great job of shedding a different light on the community.

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