From extremism to extravagance : the impact of U.S. television on Iranians and Persians.


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Middle Easterners are often negatively stereotyped in television, including the shows examined in this study: Showtime’s Homeland, and Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset. Both represent Middle Easterners poorly; in Homeland, they are largely depicted as terrorists, while in Shahs of Sunset, Persians are portrayed as vapid and lazy. This study looked for trends between viewing these shows and harboring negative bias towards Middle Easterners, particularly Iranians/Persians. A two-pronged approach was used: first, a brief content analysis of the shows was performed; next, a survey was administered, gauging respondents’ familiarity with the shows and perceptions of Middle Easterners. Findings indicate Homeland viewers trended toward perceiving Middle Easterners more negatively than non-viewers. Viewers of Shahs of Sunset did not perceive Persians significantly worse. Findings suggest that shows portraying Middle Easterners as violent are tied more closely to viewers’ negative perceptions than are shows casting Middle Easterners in nonviolent, albeit unpleasant, roles.



Television. Stereotypes. Minorities. Middle Eastern. Iranian. Persian.