Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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.

Here's a bit of what readers shared. Zeba1 wrote:

An absolute disgrace to the Persian community, this show is based on classless uneducated group with is a complete misrepresentation of the Iranian immigrant population in the United States. Fact, according to the census data available, more than one in four Iranian-Americans holds a master's or doctoral degree, the highest rate among 67 ethnic groups studied. With the Iranian American’s high level of educational attainment and a median family income 20 percent higher than the national average. Clearly, this show is not representing what the true Persian community in this country represents.

Skam wrote:

I am a Persian and I am disgusted by this show. There was a chance to show the lives of "real" Iranian-Americans here, and they have chosen these uneducated low-class people. Among Iranian-Americans here are great people who have contributed enormously to the community, just take Bijan, the late designer, Firouz Naderi, who is the directory for the Solar System Exploration Directorate at NASA, we have so many great singer selling records all over the world, we have physicians and researches awarded for their contribution to the respective fields, university professors, real business owner who work hard to achieve their goals. This show is a complete disgrace to the Persian-Americans and what it portrays is completely untrue.

Guest wrote:
As an Iran-born American, I found myself shaking my head in disgust at this show, its blatant stupidity, the shallow cast- can that girl GG be any dumber, more materialistic, rude, crass, and narcissistic?). I wasted my time watching one episode, and will not watch the show again. I suppose it's right in line with the rest of "reality" TV which is anything but.

Not everyone hated it, though. Here's part of what Realpersiangirl had to say:
wow im a full iranian and i loved the show u all are just typical ungrateful iranains..u all are all the same u all are never satisfied with anything so just sit back and enjoy it..its just tv for gods sake and also the show is so accurate its not even funny the iranians in california are all like that so chill out

The show was also defended by Savedscot, whose background wasn't clear:

I think the show will be very entertaining and fits perfectly into the intended genre
Entertainment. Persians need to not take this so seriously. Stop being hypocritical. These that are complaining So much against this show, are more than likely, the same people watching Jerswy Shore, and laughing thier a**s off.  Its ENTERTAINMENT, and I for one, will never miss an episode of Shahs of Sunset!

And at least one of the cast member, Venice artist and singer Asa Soltan Rahmati, has established fans. Anne wrote (typo is hers):
I LOVE ASA.  She is awesome beautiful and truly proud of her hertitage!!

Altogether, though, the comments were mostly along the lines of we-don't-like-it, some worded more nicely than others. Ny wrote a long comment that stood out, excerpted here:
Shame on American media. I cannot believe in this day and age we are creating shows based around race. In a society that purports to be working towards a post-racial state, this goes against every progressive step we have taken.

The Shahs of Sunset not only belittles and diminishes the immigrant experience in the United States, but it also creates yet another negative stereotype of Iranian Americans as shallow, vapid buffoons. The immigrants who came from Iran during the 1979 Revolution fled for their lives leaving their family, friends and their home behind. However, the struggles they faced in coming to the United States has been boiled down to 6 materialistic, unintelligent individuals who live a completely wasteful and embarrassing lifestyle.

Iranian Americans have worked hard to embody the American ideals of self-sacrifice, hard work and family only to have their struggles reduced to a group of six people who now embarrassingly represent the Iranian American community.

Another episode airs next Sunday.