Parmis Sahrapima, Web Co-Editor-in-Chief
“The Shahs of Sunset,” which airs every Sunday on Bravo TV, has raised many strong reactions against the show and the foul messages that it releases. Even though the show is meant to reference the lives of the majority of the Iranian-American population in Beverly Hills, many Iranian-Americans and non-Iranians have been offended by the idea that this show, because of its great exaggeration and extremities, has been chosen to represent the Iranian community .
Many Iranians who watched the show stated that the issues which the individuals in the show discussed were not applicable to the Iranian community, but only to the individuals on the show itself.
“I do think it is entertaining, but it is not an accurate portrayal of Persian life. The people on the show are in their own little world. They claim their problems are ‘being Persian’ when in fact it’s just them that are weird as individuals,” senior Ariel Rafalian said.
Others were very disturbed by the fact that the show is bringing shame to the Persian reputation and tying them down to false stereotypes.
“You would think that the Persian reputation couldn’t get any worse, but this show gave us a big fat ‘OF COURSE IT CAN!’ The show puts a horrible impression on 99% of the Persian population. America still isn’t in love with the Persian community, but this will make it worse for all of us. I was very bothered when one of the cast member’s moms was telling one of the guys that Jewish girls get fat and ugly after they marry. This is very offensive to the Jewish community. These people are making fools of themselves and ruining the entire reputation of Persians. It’s disgusting!” sophomore Ashley Zendedel said.
Some were offended by the image that “Shahs of Sunset” is stamping down on a Persian community that has already received a bad reputation due to political difficulties.
“We already have a bad reputation because of what’s going on in Iran and I feel like ‘Shahs of Sunset’ makes Persian people look like spoiled brats. People think that we’re superficial and materialistic. People will start to look at us from a different and negative perspective,” sophomore Shayna Sharim said.
Many Iranians who were looking forward to the show lost all hope after seeing the contents of the show in detail.
“I feel that the ‘Shahs of Sunset’ does not depict the Iranian culture in a positive manner. Iranian-Americans have worked hard to create a positive image for themselves and the characters on this show have destroyed this image by portraying themselves as narcissistic and egotistical. Many Persians were expecting great things from the show and it was a big let down. One aspect of the show that stands out to me is that most of the cast members are much older than our typical social groups today,” sophomore Simon Hedvat said.
A few took into consideration that every culture has its uncommon members, but that using them to represent the culture as a whole would only be inaccurate.
“I’m sure there are people like that from every culture and background, and I don’t think they should be the ones representing the rest of the culture because that’s not how we were raised. There are always going to be those types of people in every culture and I don’t believe they should be the key figures and people being the ones to represent us. They made a comment about how Persian Jewish girls, after they get married, become lazy, fat, ugly and stop cooking. I found that very bothersome,” sophomore Celine Hakimianpour said.
Non-Iranians also found the show to be a very inaccurate portrayal of the Iranians that they personally know.
“I think it’s just like any television show that focuses on a certain group of people—it only shows the extreme. Obviously, I’m not Persian, but some of my best friends are, and it makes me ashamed for them that such a small group of people get to represent the Persian community as a whole, especially because some people may not know what the Persian culture is like, so this is their only representation. I mean, I don’t know anyone who would have a caged tiger at a pool party. It’s just crazy!” junior Drew Hirschinger said.
Even faculty members, who have spent many years teaching Iranian-Americans, find the information portrayed in the show to be very unfit for characterizing their students.
“It was like watching a train wreck because I couldn’t turn away from it. I thought it was the worst depiction of Persians and it was clearly designed for ratings rather than reality. The depiction that I saw from the ‘Shahs’ bore little resemblance to the Persian students that I have taught and loved for over 20 years. The kids that I work with are hard-working and have depth. Most of my kids are people whom I look forward to seeing when they grow up. It’s hard to see the Shah versions as accurate depictions of what I’ve seen in Beverly Hills. I was bothered by the gross materialism of the characters and by seeing former students in less than a flattering light,” honors English teacher Julie Goler said.
The show has caused so much controversy that petitions are even being circulated in Iranian communities to have the show taken off the air. With so many people finding racist faults in the show, the “Shahs of Sunset,” even though it has proved entertaining to some viewers, has only become a burden to a wonderful group of people belonging to a historically rich culture.
For more on the “Shahs of Sunset” look for Ben Hanani’s column on the Persian perspective in the March 30 print edition of Highlights.