Sisterhood Blog

'Shahs of Sunset' Missing One Thing: Jewish Women

By Lilit Marcus

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Mercedes ‘MJ’ Javid, star of Bravo’s reality TV show ‘Shahs of Sunset’

The hit Bravo series “Shahs of Sunset” follows some members of the tight-knit Persian community in L.A., aka “Tehrangeles.” The show’s stars play pretty traditional reality show staple roles, such as the brassy girl who starts fights and the snarky gay dude, but there’s also a focus on a less-popular reality show storyline: religion. Most of the show’s cast members are Muslim (although not all of them are practicing), but both male regulars are Jewish or have Jewish identities.

Real estate agent Mike is Jewish and has mentioned several times how he’s a minority within the show and the Persian community at large. His friend Reza, the show’s breakout star, is the son of a Muslim mother and Jewish father, and he still struggles with rejection from his paternal relatives. However, one perspective is missing from this eclectic show: that of a Jewish woman.

“Shahs of Sunset” dropped one guy and added one girl this year for its second season, bringing the cast to a female count of four. Asa, Golnessa (aka GG), MJ and Lilly are all from Persian Muslim families. We see a lot of the cast members with their relatives, so we’ve heard about how Asa’s father was a top commander in the Shah’s navy before seeking political asylum in Germany and how GG’s parents spoiled her so badly that she’s 30 and has never held a job. Compared to the almost always absent parents on “Jersey Shore” and most of the “Real Housewives” franchises, the “Shahs” parents get a huge chunk of screen time and help flesh out the impressions of the Persian community in California.

Although religion does come up on “Shahs,” the only real religious ritual on the show was a Shabbat dinner that Reza attended with his father’s family. That has a lot to do with the fact that Reza is probably the most popular member of the cast and that it served as a perfect scene for his “I’m caught between two cultures” story arc, but it also highlighted how most of the people on this show talk about their cultural identity rather than their religious one. After all, we hear them speaking Farsi, but they also swear and drink alcohol. Judaism gives Mike plenty of fodder, such as when he talked about his ex-girlfriend who was from a Persian Muslim family; they had a lot in common, but perhaps not enough.

However, getting to hear from a woman on this same matter would add an additional layer to the so-far-minimal Persian/Jewish identity depicted on the show. Right now, the options for women on “Shahs of Sunset” are either skinny and spoiled or plus-sized and backstabbing, neither of which are particularly inspiring (surprise, surprise). There’s one quick way to improve the portrayal of women on the show: Add more of them, then give them opportunities to interact with each other.

If anyone from Bravo’s casting department is reading this, might we suggest members of the Delshad family? Their patriarch, Jimmy Delshad, is a former mayor of Beverly Hills.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sisterhood, jewish women, shahs of sunset, bravo

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.