I don't know why but I was expecting the sixth episode and season finale of Shahs of Sunset, "Old Friends, New Problems," to go out with an outrageous bang, but it didn't.
Episode 6 was surprisingly low-key and even pedestrian in parts, already emerging through the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia. Much of the episode took place with the characters working out, taking walks en plein air, or on blind dates. Generally speaking, normal things that youngish singles do. The raciest bit was when MJ's date wasn't so blind after all and she ended up getting pawed by a chauvinistic ex. As she hightailed it out of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in her hots pants and high heels, well, there's a visual for you.
Meanwhile, "Old Friends, New Problems" went so far as to cultivate an air of quiet respectability, as if deliberately wrapping things up in a more wholesome and less controversial way. Remember, these guys and gals (and their families) have to live in the Iranian-American community after the first season ends, especially if a second season isn't a given, which it wasn't at the time of shooting.
Homa Sarshar -- a distinguished Iranian-American media maven -- even made a somewhat surprising and rather lengthy guest appearance, throwing an art-show/coming-out party for Asa at her own personal residence. A month earlier, Ms. Sarshar had condoned the show on Voice of America Persian. Surely this is the equivalent of Barbara Walters doing a segment on and then showing up for drinks on the Jersey Shore.
Do I sniff the Iranian-American community's seal of approval? Have we already forgotten the offenses of earlier episodes? Are the show's stars scrambling to save face or aberoo?
"Old Friends, New Problems" had the cast hanging out with old friends, most of them harboring their old problems. Their status updates might read:
Reza: Dad and me reconciled. Life changing!
Mike: Pulled off a work deal. I'm back.
Asa: I'm Madonna in a kaftan -- and I can paint.
GG: Still full of aggro but looking for love.
MJ: Mom is impossible; Sammy, clueless.
Sammy: What's up?
Reza best summed up the episode in his closing scene: "My group of friends and I are related to one another on a molecular level that no other person out there can understand. We have all of these common denominators -- war torn country, refuge families, went to the same high school -- all the things we were judged on, looked down on, we overcame all of them..."
One wishes this were the show.
In any case, 1.5 million viewers tuned in for the season finale. This is no small number, with 1 million of them in the coveted 18-49 demographic. So the BIG bang is -- the one GG let out of her Gucci bag too soon -- that Bravo and Ryan Seacrest Productions have officially announced that the Shahs of Sunset has been green lit for a second season.
Same pals, more of Anita judging by the PR photo (Mike and her getting it on would surely drive GG to murder), and who knows what plethora of old and new problems? One thing's for sure, the cast has Christian Louboutin scale shoes to fill in the upcoming season -- and one hopes they will be better ambassadors for the Iranian-American community. And not just in the save-their-own-necks-in-case-the-show-gets-cancelled way.