Bravo's debut on Sunday night of Shahs of Sunset, a reality show following a group of wealthy Iranian Americans from Beverly Hills, was the most tragic attack on Iranians since Alexander the Great left Persepolis in ruins wearing a pleated armor skirt. At the end of what seemed like an hourlong torture, a rampage of disappointed text messages and Facebook status updates followed berating Ryan Seacrest and the vapid, one-dimensional cast.
Shahs seems to have no redeeming qualities for any audience, not just we Iranians. It lacks any originality and is nothing but Seacrest regurgitating old gimmicks to make a buck at another culture's expense.
Really, a tiger at a pool party? What is this, Siegfried and Roy's bar mitzvah? Your family came with “just the clothes on their backs”? Spare audiences the immigrant rags-to-riches sob story. Americans love that myth, but as much we'd like it to be true, it's not. Very few Iranians came here with just the clothes on their backs. The only reality this show has going for it is Reza's mustache (seriously, that thing deserves its own Twitter account).
I have to be fair, though. We do love pillars and our men do have a strange affinity toward their mothers. But Shahs is a steroid version of a reality that's applicable only to an elite group, if even that. We were not naive enough to expect an homage to our race, especially not from Seacrest, but we didn't expect to be outright disparaged — and bored — by a group of narcissistic, steroid-mongering rich kids.
But of course, the decent Iranians who occupy Los Angeles would not audition to be a puppet in exchange for 15 minutes of painful fame (if only because it would bring down their chances of marrying to almost impossible levels).
Haven't we suffered plenty? Aren't unibrows and Ahmadinejad enough of a stigma to overcome? Now we have to defend ourselves against new deluded perceptions.
I only hope that as Iranians we do what we do best. No, not insurance fraud. But stick together and not watch Shahs next week just because we want to see someone we recognize from high school. We can do that at Coffee Bean on Westwood and Ohio with far less humiliation.