Alternate Reality: Bravo's 'Shahs of Sunset' Is Actually Great TV

At core, these insane people are actually very good friends.

The season five premiere of Bravo's Shahs of Sunset includes a yacht party, a helicopter, cake throwing, yelling, and a lot of blacking out. These are excellent reasons to get hooked, just like most trashy reality shows. 

But what sets the Shahs of Sunset apart is that this show is actually rooted in reality—many of the Shahs have known each other for years, and their families are friends too.

It seems like a silly concept: Make reality TV about reality!

Of course, reality is not how it really works. For example, Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise usually strings together (very, very distant) “friends” who spend seasons getting to know one another and figuring out they have nothing in common. In the end, they practically hate each other. Of course, they run in circles that seem to intertwine, but very rarely do reality shows feature lifelong friends or family. 

But then, maybe that avoiding strict "reality" in the family thing makes sense, because now we are stuck with the mega successful Kardashians, who love them or hate them, have a bond that is undoubtable and undissolvable on television. 

Even though they are absolutely crazy enough to qualify as entertaining, trashy, TV, the Shahs strike me as loyal friends. They surely spend enough time telling the cameras how much they fucking love each other. Sometimes they're sober when they say these things. 

The key player in the Sunset gang is Reza, who isn’t just insanely funny, but treats insane sidekick, MJ as his sister. The rest of the gang have a lot more in common than being rich, Persian-Jews in Los Angeles—they are genuinely dear friends, or devoted rather.

Each episode, including this season's insane yacht-party premiere, ends with nearly every cast member yelling or crying, saying how thankful and sometimes sad they are about these friendships.

If you’ve ever been a drunk in a complicated friendship that has taken up most of your life, you’ll probably relate.

And strangely enough, the band of brothers in this always-rich-and-wacky cast, seems to face enough turmoil in their lives (and on the show) to be somewhat loving to the others. 

In fact, it feels to me, they do love one another and, for the most part, treat each other with respect.

Even when GG punches people in the face, she always comes around with a very sincere apology. Among divorces, broken engagements, financial woes, and family problems, this crew seems to stick it out.

Of course, the network has cast a few "new" outsiders, Housewives style, and the newcomers haven’t lasted. It’s the core group of friends that remains the most interesting and, well, real.

Personally, I don’t relate to anything happening to the Shahs. I can relate to the complicatedness of friendship—and so do the viewers.

The Shahs of Sunset is on its fifth season on Bravo.