Ever since Bravo premiered their new reality series, 'Shahs of Sunset', chronicling the lives of a few uppety Bevery Hills Iranians, there has been a torrent of negativity and backlash from within the Iranian community toward the show. Most of the criticism has been directed at Bravo and Ryan Seacrest for 'exploiting' and 'stereotyping' the Iranian-American community. Gina Nahai essentially called the show a vapid wasteland filled with characters who are 'unattractive, unsophisticated, unproductive, and stupid.' Other commentators (from atop their high horses) wine and moan that the show doesn't represent Iranian-Americans fairly and in fact paints a racist and grossly exaggerated portrayal of our community.
Get a freakin' life, people!
The problem with Iranians is, number one, that we are a very critical bunch. We're very quick to criticize one another and point out inadequacies and deficiencies. Secondly, we are so image conscious (and, frankly, pompous) that we think that a reality show about our community must necessarily feature doctors, lawyers, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. After all, we're one of the most highly educated and successful groups in the US.
What all these haters don't seem to understand is that Shahs of Sunset is NOT a show about the Iranian-American community. It is not a documentary chronicling our history and our struggles/successes in America. The show doesn't claim to be, nor should it be, representative of the Iranian-American community. The shows' stars come out and say that. What Shahs of Sunset is is simply a show about some rich kids who grew up in BH and who go around West LA partying and flaunting their money. That, ladies and gentleman, is what network executives have determined is entertainment. That's all the show is. Mindless entertainment. Anyone who's every been to or lived in LA knows that there is a very visible subset of our community who lives and acts more or less exactly like the characters on the show.
Americans are and always have been fascinated with wealth, and they love to see wealth being paraded around on TV. In its premier, Shahs of Sunset scored some very high ratings-almost 1.1 million people tuned in to the first episode. Frankly, I say it's about time that someone put Iranians on TV. Who cares if these characters are vain and spoiled? No one's going to watch a show featuring boring down-to-earth people with no personalities. They want to see people with larger-than-life personalities driving expensive cars and drinking expensive alcohol. That may be shallow, but entertainment is supposed to be shallow. If I want intellectual stimulation, I'll read Kant.
Finally, anything that shifts the association of Iran and Iranians away from terrorism is a very welcome thing in my book. If some white guy in Georgia who's never been exposed to "Eye-ranians" tunes in to the show and realizes that Iranians are not bearded fanatics but rather highly successful, educated people, then that is a good thing. Thanks to the IRI, there is too much negativity in the world directed at our people and our country of origin. Shahs of Sunset is a refreshing rebuttal to all of that and shows the rest of America that not only do we exist, but that we're livin' large baby. Personally, I love the show. And come Sunday night, I'll be tuning in, popcorn ready.
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