Move over, Real Housewives!
There's a new rich gaggle of Beverly Hills up and comers set to take reality TV by storm with Bravo's new Ryan Seacrest-produced series Shahs of Sunset.
Premiering March 11, Shahs of Sunset follows a group of six Persian-American friends who balance busy California social lives while contending with family pressure to marry within their own community.
1. A refugee who fled to Los Angeles from her native Iran as a young girl, Asa Soltan Rahmati first learned English thanks to rap group Public Enemy and Michael Jackson, she tells The Daily Beast. These days, Rahmati, now 35, highlights her own vocal performances on YouTube. "My videos get around," she confirms to The Daily Beast, comparing herself to Lady Gaga and controversial rapper M.I.A. "I get pulled over by Persian girls who want to take pictures of me. We don't have any people that are out in the public, that are living outside the box."
2. Giggy VanderPump has some competition for the cutest reality TV pup, if you ask Shahs star Mercedes "MJ" Javid. When the luxury real estate agent makes a splash on Sunset Boulevard, she does so with her two Chihuahuas in their own customized stroller, and even maintains personal Facebook pages for her pets.
3. Don't expect Shahs to be anything like MTV's Jersey Shore. "We are much more sophisticated," openly gay Shahs costar Reza Farahan explains of his Bravo crew. "We come from different backgrounds of lawyers and doctors. Those people on Jersey Shore are hooking up every night. They have a 'smoosh' room. They drink pickle juice. They have nothing. They are incredibly trashy. We are not like that."
4. While the cast are all wealthy in their own right, producer Seacrest says he's hoping the cast's family dynamics will become a focus for viewers instead of their flashy cars and designer duds. "The great thing about a show like this," Seacrest says, "is that it promotes something I believe in, which is friendship and family. We like shows about that."
5. Through their new series, cast member Golnesa "GG" Gharachedaghi hopes to change Americans' perceptions of Persian men and women like those featured on Shahs. "Do I think people will see us in a different light? Yes, I do," GG says. "We are not terrorists. Our money isn't from oil. We're not related to Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden."
Shahs of Sunset premieres March 11 at 10 p.m. (EST) on Bravo.