Entertainment

Is New Reality Show 'Shahs of Sunset' Really an Accurate Depiction of Iranian-Americans?

"Usually, we are depicted as terrorists..."

(Photo: Hollywood Reporter

"Shahs of Sunset," Bravo's new reality TV show, is being branded "Real Housewives" meets "Jersey Shore," with Persians.

According to Fox News:

The program, which premiered on Sunday night, follows a group of six Persian-American socialites in Los Angeles as they navigate love and life with what seems like bottomless checking accounts.

They are the children of the Iranians who escaped their country after the 1979 Iranian Revolution ended the reign of the Shah Reza Pahlavi.

[...]

The show’s focus does seem to be on the characters' frivolous sides. Golnesa 'GG' Gharachedaghi, who is being heralded as the next Kim Kardashian, is a 30-year-old trust fund baby who uses her father’s credit card to buy designer clothing and vehemently argues on the first episode that she does not like “ugly people.”

"Charge it to my Daddy" is one of her favorite sayings, and could end up being the series' tagline.

Needless to say, many Iranian-Americans aren't happy being branded with this sort of stereotype.  Fox reports:

Several petitions to halt the show have been circulated around the Persian-American community. One of them, “Protest Shahs of Sunset,” encourages signers to “help the Persian community by signing this petition to end 'Shahs of Sunset' and other such racist, exploiting television programming.”

Another, which has collected 500 signatures on Change.org, argues that the show promotes racial stereotypes. One signer of that petition, Shepard Jacobson, commented: 'The show wants to present caricatures of Iranian-Americans. This is not entertaining. Rather, it is racist and only encourages others who do not know Persians in our American society to feed into the worst kind of stereotype, rather than showing a new generation of ambitious yet hardworking Iranian-Americans.'

But what do the actors have to say about the controversy?  Mike Shouhed speculated, "The only reason people are petitioning is that they are 100 percent jealous that they aren’t on the show. All we are doing is hanging out and being ourselves."

Nomar Elmi, the director of community outreach for the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C., saw another benefit to the show.  "Usually we are depicted as terrorists from the axis of evil. At least this is another side to the community. It isn’t the most positive or accurate, but it will get the American public talking.”

Watch Ryan Seacrest, executive producer of the show, introduce the cast:

One last thing…
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