I got on the Shahs of Sunset train way back in November when most of you were asking me why I was blogging about some show that would not be on for five months. There were several things that peaked my interest. First, it was a collaboration between my homeboy Ryan Seacrest and my then gay boyfriend, Andy Cohen. (If you missed our tragic breakup, you can read that here). But also because I grew up in Libya and have always been interested in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Because I was early to the party I got to know (online) the cast and scored some exclusive interviews with GG and Asa. I still maintain contact with pretty much everyone on the cast. I’ve been waiting to “review” the show until after I saw them a couple of times to see how editing, and cameras might change my views of them.
So now it’s time to tell you what I think.
I must start with Reza.
As a matter of full disclosure, I must confess that Reza has long before the show aired replaced Andy Cohen in my heart. Out love affair began months ago when I referred to him as a “sockless wonder” and he tweeted about it. When we chat online he is funny and honest and real. On the show he makes comments about “keeping it 100%” which make me think of people like Nene Leakes who think that “keeping it real” means being rude and saying whatever is on your mind. That’s NOT the kind of real Reza is. Reza’s great sense of humor is his mechanism for dealing with all sorts of feelings and protecting his sensitive side. His healthy dose of vanity comes from growing through some awkward and difficult periods in his life. He’s not always been the happy, fit, well dressed guy we have fallen in love with on TV. He’s worked hard on his looks, his health, and most of all coming to accept himself fully for who he is. He may be snarky, but he is not mean-spirited. He’s fun, a good friend and completely comfortable in his own skin.
And then there is Sammy. With so many critics trying to compare Shahs to Jersey Shore, I have to say that the only thing they have in common is both shows have a Sammy Sweetheart. Sammy is a nice guy with a healthy dose of Peter Pan complex. In fact pretty much everyone on Shahs has Peter Pan complex with the exception of Asa. Despite the fact that everyone is in their late thirties, it reminds me of the movie Animal House with the frat members that have been in college for twelve years. Sammy may have a good job and be making a boatload of money, but socially, he has chosen to live the life most of us gave up shortly after college graduation, albeit with an unlimited budget. Imagine yourself back in college with your friends and instead of spending your loan checks on a ski trip to NC and a deep sea fishing trip in Florida (er…um.. totally random examples Student Loan People) you didn’t have classes and had unlimited resources in Vegas. Somehow Sammy is managing to sustain that well into his thirties. Frankly, I would have died of alcohol poisoning by now. Sammy out at the clubs or at his own pool party chatting up the ladies is exactly the Sammy he is on twitter. Nice, fun-loving and carefree.
Then there is Mike
. Of all the guys, Mike is the most image conscious. He’s actually a perfect match for GG because they both seem to be the kinds of people that are insecure and concerned about what other people think about them. It makes sense to talk about GG and Mike at the same time. They are both physically beautiful. I’ve noticed on the show that Mike not only seems to um, let’s call it date, a lot of people, but that even when sitting at the table with all his friends he needs to turn to other tables, and other women passing by for constant validation.
GG is the same way. The first thing she did when heading to Vegas was to set up a hookup. Some think she did this to make Mike jealous or to get her groove on, but I don’t. I think she did it for the same reason that Mike craves attention. Neither one of them can stand to be alone for a second. GG can’t even pack a suitcase by herself. BTW, I love how having a friend over to check your shopping spree is suddenly “a stylist”. People who admit to shopping every day don’t need a stylist
. People with jobs and busy lives need a stylist to shop for them. GG could easily be someone else’s stylist. But I digress. When you grow up spoiled and continue to be spoiled as an adult, whether you call it “being a Mama’s Boy” or “Daddy’s Persian Princess” you don’t develop the skills that allow you to enjoy going out to dinner alone. Or traveling alone. Or even being left out of the conversation for five minutes. Neither Mike nor GG know what to do when they are not the center of attention. The reason these two are not together when it seems so obvious to viewers of the show that they “should be” is because in order for the relationship to work, both of them would have to know how to focus their attention on someone else. They both need constant validation from not just one person but EVERYONE. One thing is for sure, what you see is what you get. This isn’t manufactured for Bravo drama.
Then there is MJ. I worried about her last night when watching her in Vegas. Not because she was way over-served because hell, who hasn’t puked on a Vegas trip. Perhaps not IN the bar but seriously, it was a party foul. Nothing more. I was worried about her mother seeing the show. Lord knows her mother is critical enough without giving her extra ammo. MJ works hard, plays hard and shops hard.
She needs to try to reject some of her mother’s harsh, though well-intended, wisdom about relationships and try to muster up some hope and courage and see if here is a man out there who is right for her. It’s clearly not anyone in her social circle that we have seen so far. Unfortunately, the dating she does in upcoming episodes doesn’t go well. Dating is hell and I can totally understand the idea of giving up on the whole concept. It is sort of freeing (or so I hear).
Finally, there is Asa.
Last night Reza and GG talked about her style of dress. Both Reza and GG are label whores. I don’t know how the fashion industry bamboozles so many people into group think about fashion. True style is inherently personal and comes from individual taste and personal experiences. Someone with the global exposure that Asa has understands that people all over the world have a different sense of beauty. It takes self-confidence that comes from experiencing a lot of different kinds of people and places to choose a wardrobe that is representative of who you are and what you believe in. Reza and GG wondered if Asa dresses the way she does “to get attention.” Asa dresses to express herself. It would seem to me that it’s the people that label drop and spend tons of money on whatever is popular among the wealthy are the ones trying to get attention. Asa is a free spirit who has managed to live for thirty-something years without eventually conforming to the masses. That takes strength and spirit especially when your closes friends are not really capable of understanding who you are.
So my review is that I love the show and I love every single person on the cast. I might not be rich, or Iranian, or Jewish or Muslim or living in Beverly Hills, but I think these six people are representative of the personalities found in any college clique. None of them are perfect, and they all get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Pairs become close for a time, and then alliances change only to come full circle over the years. There is a lot of focus on GG’s imperfections right now, but over the season, that focus will likely move on to someone else. No one is the villain. It’s just real life.