And so we begin a new series -- Shahs of Sunset -- capturing the lives of six Persians in Beverly Hills. Disclaimer: I, in fact, am half-Persian. My father was born in Tehran, and while I live in New York, along with half of my family, the other half does live in Beverly Hills. And attended to Beverly Hills High. I hear about the “old country” quite a bit from my father (stories I actually always feel fortunate enough to hear), and about how things changed when the Shah was overthrown. He still reads Persian magazines, and somehow found Persian television on his computer. We bond over things like Parazit, the Persian version of The Daily Show. (Jon Stewart actually had the guys from Parazit on his show last year.) And, this is semi off-topic, but I recommend reading/seeing the graphic novel Perspepolis by Marjane Satrapi which describes the darker side of that time. (Persepolis also happens to be a tasty Persian restaurant on the Upper East Side.) Sooo in a lot of ways this show hits pretty close to home, maybe a little too close to home. But, from my experience New York and California Persians can be quite different, about as different as New Yorkers and Californians in general, so I’m “learning” things right along with the rest of you! We learned a lot about the six people whose lives we’ll be chronicling over the next five episodes. Let’s break them down:
Let’s start with Mercedes, or “MJ,” Her dogs have Facebook pages, they vote for Presidents (on Facebook.) She’s the single girl, whose friend, Jenn, is getting married. We go along as MJ and her friends shop for Jenn’s wedding dress and bridesmaids’ dresses, MJ tells her friend that marriage is pointless. Let’s just say MJ is a little damaged over her parents’ divorce. Her mother is also fairly critical of her, and married Jewish women. In fact, the discussion about the different views on religion, intermarriage, etc. was fascinating to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last we hear about it.
Next is Reza and out-and proud-gay Persian who tells it like it is and is sure to provide the best one-liners of the season. In the premiere, Reza brings one of his clients to a home being developed by Sammy, our real estate developer. Although Sammy thinks his property is worth a lot, Reza and his client don’t see it that way since it’s not even finished. Can’t hold a good man like Sammy down for too long though as he holds a raucous pool party later in the episode.
Then there’s Mike. We see that he’s a bit of a mama’s boy and has a little bit of weirdness with Golnesa. He apparently dated her older sister years ago, but he and “GG” flirt (and fight) all the time.
Finally, we have the black sheep of this little family, Asa. She’s an artist, and often gets picked on by the others for her life style choices. She’s proud to say that she pays for everything she has and wont change to make money. I have to say though I know I’ll hear “Tehranjeles” at the next Persian wedding I attend. No joke -- my father’s proudest achievement of mine was a mix CD of Persian music I made for my brother’s wedding EIGHT YEARS AGO. He still listens to it in his car.
Our six leads come together twice in this premiere -- both ending semi-disastrously. First, the crew gets together for dinner. Everything seems OK, till GG thinks she hears Asa say something about her wearing H&M. Apparently, that’s like calling someone a murderer, because they have it out and it gets a little ugly. GG tells Asa she has a problem with her, but is able to stay calm -- and confused -- and squash the whole conversation.
GG is on a tear, though, because later in the episode, we head to Sammy’s pool party. This party has everything I’ve known a good Persian pool party to have -- alcohol, kebabs, and hookah. And, of course, Mike’s date, Lana. Everyone has a comment about Lana, but no one really starts with Mike bout it -- except GG. GG says something about Lana’s attire in front of Mike, and obviously, Mike defends his lady, and shiz hits the fan. The sexual tension between these two is palpable.
So, we end this premiere with a sneak peek at what’s to come for the season. I honestly can’t wait for that trip to Las Vegas if only to see how MJ ended up in that bathtub.
Tell me: Who's your favorite "Shah" so far. And do you think Mike and GG will be getting it on by season's end?