I didn't think Bravo's reality TV show, Shahs of Sunset, could sink any lower than the second episode, "It's my Birthday Bitches." But the latest, innocuous-sounding episode "Waiting for MJ" ensured it did -- and how.
The Shahs of Sunset claims to depict the lives of Persian Americans living in Tehrangeles, a moniker given to the swankier parts of Los Angeles where many Iranians settled after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Honestly, I was so offended by Episode 4 that I almost didn't write anything at all, but I realized that now more than ever I needed to write something. I'm also Persian-American and I deeply resent my fellow Persian-Americans getting lumped together if only by ethnicity with the cast of this increasingly gratuitous show.
Waiting for MJ takes place at the usual locations: real estate construction sites, restaurants, and Westside condos with Persian carpets underfoot and nary a novel or newspaper in sight. But 3-5 minutes of Episode 4 (sorry, I can't bring myself to re-watch and time it...) took place at a colonic center. Really, I kid you not.
I can hear my Iranian brethren balking.
Reza and MJ spend the entire scene each getting disposable speculums shoved up their respective rear ends, while blithely bonding over the experience. Reza, whose respect for women and whose consideration for friends knows no end, bought this weight-loss gimmick as a birthday gift for MJ's 34th.
Mise en scene in the clinic -- two beds in separate cubicles, with colon hydrotherapy units as non-speaking extras -- Reza's eloquent quips run the gamut from "feel free to compliment me on my body parts" to "got any porn magazines."
My latex gloves are coming off.
Move over GG, I can be a Persian American Princess, too, though I give my lashing with words, not knives. Until I watched Episode 4, I wasn't aware I had anger management problems...
From the start, I've tried to be fair in my episode write-ups of the Shahs of Sunset, ever looking for a bright side, ever hopeful that something positive about the Persian-American culture could be gleaned from the reality gloss, ever...
But today, well, no holds barred, this is what I hated about Episode 4:
1. Chronic Colonic: Do I need to reiterate how much this double colonic scene offended, not just the Persian American in me but surely anyone with an ounce of integrity? I have nothing against colonics, but do we need to watch what is ultimately a highly personal and deeply private procedure? Call me a prude, call me uptight, see if I care.
2. Playboy Mansion, Not: I like Sammy enough and he packs in some Persian truisms on occasion, but sorry, Hugh Hefner called Mohamed to take notes from him. Really? As for Mohamed, he could do with a haircut or at least a comb. Most Iranian men his age are groomed and married -- usually with plenty of grandkids.
3. The Sorry Songstress: I find it ridiculous that the Persian women at GG's parents 40th anniversary party were complimenting Asa on her music; either they are tone deaf or have no taste. As for the record producer, Donray, "I can see how Persians would like that song... " Please. And how exactly does this I-don't-want-to-sell-out person support herself? Not by busking, you can be sure of that.
4. Kebab City: If I have to watch another cast member eating chelo kebab, I'll scream. We saw it in GG's restaurant scene with her greasy-ponytailed dad, as well as at lunch with Reza, MJ and her mom. Folks, don't get me wrong, chelo kebab is a delicious dish -- the best -- but it's also the culinary equivalent of hamburger or takeout. Iranians rarely cook this dish at home and certainly don't eat it every day. Persian food is complex, subtle and refined. Perhaps that's the problem...
5. The 40th Anniversary Bash: First, GG looked like an ugly duckling in that ridiculous outfit; no swansong here. Second, no self-respecting Persian party for adults starts in daylight at 7:00 p.m. An evening soiree would start at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 PM, making MJ right on time, though still far from thin. Third, I don't know any Iranian American who ever gave his or her parent a new Mercedes. GG says "... a big part of the Persian culture is to give very large gifts... " To which I say, there's a difference between generous and ludicrous in any culture.
As GG's daddy said in the restaurant to his unemployed, spendthrift daughter: "Eshtehah yeh manoh koor cardi." The subtitles read, "You killed my appetite." Lost in translation, what this poetic phrase really means is, "You blinded my appetite." If you must watch Episode 4, be sure to put on your blinkers.