Bravo’s new reality show Shahs of Sunset has stirred up a lot of controversy since the beginning of this first season. The show follows the lives of six, extremely rich Persian Americans residing in Beverly Hills, California. Bravo’s website elaborates, “From outings on Rodeo Drive to traditional Persian feasts at home, this series celebrates the unique lifestyle of a group of friends who have worked hard for what they have and are not afraid to flaunt it.”
Shirin Sadeghi with The Huffington Post wrote an article titled “The Shahs of Seacrest” where she complains about the affect the television show may have on the Iranian American society. Sadeghi states, “Iranian Americans now know what the Italian Americans felt when Jersey Shore hit the scene. You see, Seacrest has compiled a less than impressive sample of what is in fact one of America’s most highly educated and financially successful minorities, to showcase his view into the cosmetically-altered soul of Tehrangeles.” Sadeghi also mentions the anger many Armenian Americans feel due to the Seacrest depiction of their race after the Kardashians aired. Sadeghi then elaborates on what she feels the show realistically reveals, “And what do they do? Get drunk, fight and talk about their earth-shattering careers as real estate agents and daddy’s girls. It’s a convenient portrayal of Iranian Americans to those Americans who know little about them: what would be wrong with bombing a country full of idiots like this?” Sadeghi brings up the touchy subject for many Iranian Americans over the poor reflection of their nationality during a sensitive time between the two nations.
Yet Sadeghi is not alone. Many Persian Americans feel that the show does not accurately reflect their nationality as people who have “worked hard for what they have,” according to Bravo. In fact, the show has developed so much controversy that petitions are actually being dispersed in order to prevent the show from airing any longer. One petition titled “Bravo Television, ComCast, NBC Universal: Not to air ‘Shahs of Sunset’” states online that “This petition is important because racial stereotyping is always wrong. We as a country should celebrate our many ethnic minorities, not mock them. This show negatively impacts our generation and the generation after us.” A comment on the petition states, “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 stereotyping. Rather than showing a new generation of ambitious and hardworking Americans.” As of now, the petition has around 800 signatures out of the 10,000 needed.
Sadeghi ends her article with a fair warning. “In the future, Greek Americans, Arab Americans, South Asian Americans and Asian Americans should be weary of the hand of Seacrest. It’s only a matter of time before he strikes their communities, too.”