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Mike Shouhed has been sharing his life with the world for 9 seasons of Shahs of Sunset. The show debuted almost a decade ago, and since then, it's been a wild ride for Mike and his pals. Mike's journey has included romantic ups and downs (including a divorce before finding love again), launching businesses, and, of course, giving viewers an inside look at his dynamic friendships with his longtime pals, who also make up the cast.
"I mean, sometimes we forget that we’re not related because we treat each other like brothers and sisters," he recently told Bravo Insider. "If you don’t have a deep-rooted bond with one another there’s no real friendship there, and these people are like my siblings. And we fight like siblings, we love like siblings. We have each other’s backs like siblings, and this season although we have our trials and tribulations, we come right back together."
Mike then took us back to the early days of Shahs of Sunset, noting that celebrating nearly a decade on the air is "a blessing." "I can’t believe it. I remember when we did the sizzle reel 10 years ago in the backyard of one of the guys that we were friends with at the time. And I was like, all right, yeah, let’s see what happens, you know," he recalled. "Then [the] first episode comes out, and people just went nuts. It was wild. And I think Bravo, the network, the crew, everyone, like, we all were just shocked. But, I think it’s because our culture’s so dynamic, the group is so dynamic. We keep it real, so people just love the show."
Mike is one of the original cast members on the series who is still documenting his life for the world today (along with Reza Farahan, Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, and Mercedes "MJ" Javid, who are the only OGs still on the series, as other cast has come and gone over the years).
He recalled one of the more memorable early moments from the series. "Oh, man, I remember a first cast, or group trip that we took to Vegas. And that was absolutely insane. We were just like kids in the candy store. Private jet to Vegas. Staying at the Aria at a new penthouse that they’d just built. No one had ever stayed there before. We raided the mini fridge. We just didn’t know how to act. We were just a bunch of rambunctious, crazy rock stars that just wanted to have a great time. And, you know, we were so novice when it came to filming that we didn’t realize that the audio was rolling all the time on us 'cause we were in a hotel room. So, you know, it was like, regardless of what we were saying, whether we were going bathroom, it didn’t matter. They were listening and watching everything and just so funny, so fun, such a great weekend. And that just kicked off what became a show that really shifted people’s thoughts of Iranian-Americans," he said.
Being able to share the group's culture with the world has been an incredibly important part of the journey for Mike. "You know, at one point in my life I would hide and lie about being from Iran, and now I have people who DM me, who see me in the streets [and] they’re like, 'Man, I love your culture. I wish I was Persian.' I’m like, yeah, that’s amazing,'" Mike said. "And then we slowly started to break these barriers of what people thought the Middle East was all about. Our culture’s so diverse and so rich in music and language and food and art and philosophers. And just to bring light to some of that stuff with the shenanigans that we have has been really amazing for us, and I’m really proud of that."
Mike also noted that while he "could tell you moments, there’s been so many" that stand out to him over the years, he said what really sticks with him from his time on Shahs of Sunset is the many diverse experiences his friends are living in their daily lives and sharing with viewers:
Speaking of meeting new friends or their friends' new romantic partners, viewers have watched as different folks have been introduced to the crew over the years. And Mike noted that the group tries to welcome everyone with open arms.
"We’re all friends. And we all have a mutual respect for one another, and when the group hangs out, we ask for them, we ask for each person, to bring their significant other. And we have a good time together. We’re cool with each other," he said. "We want to make sure they feel comfortable. And we want to make sure that everyone feels included... So we’re very inclusive of the group and significant others and girlfriends and boyfriends, and, you know. Friends of friends. And all that."
This season has been emotional again for Mike as he navigates tension within the group regarding texts sent outside of his relationship with Paulina Ben-Cohen and the fallout from that. It's hardly the first time that Mike has shared his personal struggles in such a public way, such as when he dealt with the end of his marriage and eventual divorce on the show, most notably. Even with so much experience being so open with viewers, Mike still gets anxious to put it all out there.
"So I still get scared? Absolutely. It still makes me anxious. But I realized years ago when I got started on this project that if I was gonna be on reality TV, I had to be as real as possible to myself and to the fans, to the network, to my fellow cast. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the success we want to have. So, I made a promise to myself, just like the crew did. We all sat down together. We’re like, 'Look, we’re gonna show the world the good, the bad, the ugly. We can’t just fake floss and pretend like our lives are perfect.' Because they’re not. We’re human. We make mistakes. And, the reason why I keep doing it is because I’m not the only one that’s going through these issues. In the past, people have come to me and said, 'You know, when, when you went through that particular moment in your life, I was going through a very similar situation, and because of the way you handled it and because of hearing your story, it helped me cope and deal with issues that were happening in my own life,'" he recalled. "So because of that, I realized how important it is that we don’t add to the fakeness that’s happening in the world today with social media and people trying to be and act like something they’re really not, and I think that’s part of our success. A majority of it. Because we let you see the real lives of our group."
Want more Shahs of Sunset? New episodes air every Sunday at 8/7c.
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