Mob Wives is an American reality television series that aired for six seasons on VH1, from April 17, 2011, until March 16, 2016. It focuses on the lives of several women residing in the New York City borough of Staten Island, whose family members and husbands have been arrested and imprisoned for crimes that are connected to the American Mafia.
The series originally focused on Drita D'Avanzo, Carla Facciolo, Karen Gravano, and Renee Graziano. D'Avanzo and Graziano appeared in all six seasons, while Gravano was absent for the fourth, and Facciolo was absent for the fourth and fifth. Later additions to the cast include Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, Ramona Rizzo, Love Majewski, Alicia DiMichelle Garafalo, and Natalie Guercio. Raiola died from complications of throat cancer and pneumonia on February 18, 2016, less than a month before the final season concluded.
The show's success sired several spin-offs, including , Mob Wives Chicago, Big Ang, and Miami Monkey. A revival of the series has been discussed since December 2017, in which D'Avanzo has confirmed she would not be featured.
Overview and castingThe idea for the show came from Jennifer "Jenn" Graziano, sister of cast member, Renee Graziano. Season 2 debuted on January 1, 2012, with two new cast members—Ramona Rizzo and Angela "Big Ang" Raiola. On May 9, 2012, VH1 announced that the series had been renewed for a third season. On August 12, 2012, Renee Graziano tweeted that filming was underway for the third season It was announced on December 11, 2012 that the third season would debut on January 6, 2013 with new cast member Love Majewski. Renee Graziano revealed on May 14, 2013 that Mob Wives had been renewed for a fourth season, although that had not been officially announced by VH1 at the time. In an interview during New York Fashion Week, Housewife Ramona Rizzo mentioned that she, Karen Gravano, and Carla Facciolo would not be returning for the series' fourth season. In Season 4 the show was re-titled, Mob Wives: New Blood, and added two new cast members: Alicia DiMichele Garofalo and Natalie Guercio. It premiered on December 5, 2013.
On February 19, 2014, VH1 renewed Mob Wives for a fifth season, which began production in mid-2014. Gravano confirmed through numerous tweets that she would be returning for the fifth season. The fifth season introduced a new friend to the wives, Natalie DiDonato; Victoria Gotti also made a special guest appearance. VH1 announced on December 7, 2015, their decision to end Mob Wives as the conclusion of its sixth season, known as Mob Wives: The Last Stand. The sixth season will also introduce two new cast members—Brittany Fogarty, daughter of known gangster John Fogarty, and Marissa Fiore. On December 29, 2015, it was announced Majewski would be returning in a guest appearance in the final season. On February 18, 2016, Raiola died following complications of cancer and pneumonia.
In 2016, main cast member Renee Graziano participated in the United Kingdom's program Celebrity Big Brother. She placed third. In 2017, recurring cast member Marissa Jade also participated. She placed fifteenth.
Timeline of cast
- Mob Wives Chicago debuted on June 10, 2012.
- Big Ang, Raiola's own spinoff show, premiered on July 8, 2012.
- Miami Monkey, the third Mob Wives spin-off, premiered September 8, 2013.
RebootJennifer Graziano, creator and executive producer of Mob Wives, stated in December 2017 that a reboot of Mob Wives is in the works; it is not known if it will return to VH1. Drita D'Avanzo, who starred on the show during its original run, declined Graziano's invitation to return, stating that she has since moved on and wants to explore other ventures. According to Graziano, most of the original cast are willing to return including her sister Renee, who also starred on all seasons of the show. The show is set to be filmed on the East Coast and will likely feature both original and new cast members.
As of December 2018, Graziano has only hinted of a potential reboot and no other details have since been revealed.
ReceptionThe first season of Mob Wives was well received by some entertainment critics. Entertainment Weekly's television critic Ken Tucker praised the show in his review, stating, "As someone who’s watched at least a few episodes of every version of the Real Housewives franchise and feels a bit nauseous about it, I didn’t come to Mob Wives with high hopes. But this floridly funny, vicariously vicious reality series exerts a vulgar charm." He noted the fascination of watching excessively made-up people living in apparent luxury and the authenticity of the drama among the women. "By turns funny, appalling, and frightening, Mob Wives is swiftly paced, reality-TV at its most effusively dismaying." The Hollywood Reporter critic David Knowles felt the show was significantly better than typical reality TV. He found the women's internal conflict between their mob past and their desire to break free from that lifestyle to be the underlying question of the series. Knowles noted that the women's storylines are so tense and engrossing that the surveillance-style effect used to introduce them seemed unnecessarily cliché. "As we learned from The Sopranos, the wives and children of mafiosos can be every bit as compelling as the gangsters themselves... As for those other real housewives franchises, their endless squabbles and social climbing antics are rendered rather trivial after you watch the first five minutes of Mob Wives."
Some New York critics were less enthusiastic about the show. David Hinckley's New York Daily News review complained the "tired concept, is so bad it should sleep with fishes", and observed "these are unpleasant people in an unwatchable show". On the other hand, he wrote: "Now it could be added that if this is what you want on TV, Mob Wives is an all-you-can-eat buffet. Imagine the angriest of the "Real Housewives" ratcheted up into overdrive". Staten Island Advance's SILive.com "Entertainment Comment of the Day" in April 2011 said, "Out of interest we only watched about twenty minutes of the first episode and couldn't stomach watching the second. We don't know what's so interesting about a bunch of low-life women who think that husbands that go off to prison is like spending a year at college. I bet their kids are real proud of them. Any glorification of a life of crime is pathetic. They all deserve whatever misery that comes along".
The Mafia theme of the show was a concern for some non-journalists, as well. Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro stated; "I've seen it – It's disgraceful. It paints Staten Island and Italian-Americans in a bad light. It's detrimental because people will think this is what Staten Island is made of. I'm Italian – and this is bad for our doctors, our lawyers, the people who came from Italy to build their lives". UNICO National, an Italian advocacy group, said the show is tantamount to "trash TV like Jersey Shore. I hope it dies because no one watches it. We were mobsters and mafiosos with The Sopranos, bimbos and buffoons with Jersey Shore, and now we're back where we started. It's a disgrace". Gawker.com said, "This seems like a terrible idea for a reality show! Would anyone watch a show called Mass Murderers' Wives?"
Relatives of murder victims killed by the cast members' relatives are also disturbed by the show. Jackie Colucci, whose brother Joseph was murdered by Sammy "The Bull" Gravano in 1970, stated about Karen Gravano: "She should be ashamed that her father is a murderer and a drug dealer. I would be ashamed and crawling in a hole and staying out of the limelight".