How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Posts of the week: Shahs of Sunset, a 'civil detention center,' coming out undocumented, when people of color go missing, more

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A student activist's t-shirt, December 2010

The past week brought us an ethnic reality TV show that had some readers fuming, a "civil detention center" for immigrants in Texas and a growing movement of undocumented young people going public with their immigration status, among other things.

In case you missed any of the week's highlights, here are a few:

Monday

See 'Shahs of Sunset?' Share your thoughts The controversial Bravo reality show that debuted last Sunday has been infuriating many Iranian Americans. The show is the latest of a series of ethnic reality series similar to "Jersey Shore," following six wealthy Iranian Americans in and around Beverly Hills. The cast members' flashy lifestyles depicted on the show have offended viewers who say the show promotes negative stereotypes. Comments posted by several readers - including a few who defended the show - were posted in a follow-up.

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Readers sound off on 'Shahs of Sunset'

A post on Monday asked readers to share their thoughts about "Shahs of Sunset," a new Bravo reality series that focuses on six wealthy Angelenos who are Iranian American. Dozens of comments later, I can say that people have shared plenty.

Similar to how the debut of "Jersey Shore" angered and prompted boycotts from Italian Americans, this latest twist on ethnic reality TV has had a similar effect, with calls for boycotts and a Facebook page dedicated to getting the show canceled. To the show's credit, there were some interesting conversations in the first episode that aired Sunday, with a conflict between a first-generation mom and her American-raised daughter and two friends hashing out the differences between Iranians who left their country before and after the 1979 revolution.

But the show also dwells on stereotypes, as many of those who wrote in with their thoughts have complained. There is a bling and more bling, a hefty dose of vapidness and a young woman - the target of much ire - who is supported by her father and dislikes both "ugly people" and ants.

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See 'Shahs of Sunset?' Share your thoughts

If you missed the premiere of Bravo's "Shahs of Sunset" last night, you're not alone. I did, as did another colleague who was planning to watch. Perhaps ethnic reality TV has become less of a must-see. Not that most of these shows have been must-sees in the first place, though some have tried harder than others.

That said, there are some interesting conversations in the first episode, which Bravo has online, if one can sift through the rest of it. In this one above, one of the cast members, Asa Soltan Rahmati, chats with a girlfriend about the emotional and identity differences between Iranian Americans who arrived before the 1979 revolution and those who arrived afterward, or were born in the United States. It's a good conversation that reflects similar differences within other immigrant diasporas, especially those whose migration revolved around political upheaval.

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