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!
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • 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.