'Mob Wives' premiere review: Funny, appalling, frightening, and good.

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. It’s like watching a cross between The Sopranos and The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

These are truly mob spouses. Karen Gravano is the daughter of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano; Renee Graziano is the daughter of Anthony Graziano, said to be a high-ranking member of the Cosa Nostra. The four main “wives” have either husbands or fathers who have served or are serving time in jail, and the woman are tough, issuing blithe declarations such as “Ya never rat no matter what” and “I beat up a lotta f—in’ people.”

They’re so immersed in crime culture, they don’t make a big deal out of it — unless someone crosses them. While much of Mob Wives offers the interesting spectacle of these excessively made-up, body-altered people living their lives in garish luxury, there’s a core element of drama that every successful reality show requires. Renee, Carla Facciolo, and Drita D’avanzo are all friends in Staten Island, but Karen has spent the past ten years in Arizona as part of the witness protection program.

In the premiere, we follow Karen on her move back to Staten Island, because she yearns to be back where, as she says, “Staten Island is a breeding ground for the Mafia.” Since Renee in particular considers Karen’s father a rat whose testimony damaged the John Gotti and the Gambino crime family, the two women are on a collision course.

Their initial reunion, at Carla’s birthday party, feels staged — or as Renee says of her friends, who kept Karen’s return a secret, “These f—in’ bitches set me up!” — the fireworks between the women seems authentic. I think authenticity in such a context means, everyone sputters inarticulate insults that struck me as sincerely hostile. At least, that’s what I took away from Drita’s fractured maxim, “If you can’t do the time, just f—in’ kill yourself.”

By turns funny, appalling, and frightening, Mob Wives is swiftly paced, reality-TV at its most effusively dismaying.

Agree? Disagree?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (116 total) Add your comment
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  • Dr. Linus

    Why is that woman, who spent 10 years in the Witness Protection Program, now putting herself out there for the world to see via TV?

    • Loch Ness

      Why would anyone watch something like this?

      • fran beard

        i am watching casue they are nnot Black, sick of seeing extreme lack of class and ghetto behavior displayed by AA women, prefer to see white trash duke it out for a change.

      • greta

        @Fran, ITA so tired of stereotypes about we Black(sorry I never liked AA) women and hoping others will see that it is not real.

      • rubylaughs

        @Fran Beard
        Once again we have a white woman riding up the crack of a black woman’s behind. Some of you love the pure funk of it all. what other reason would their be for you having to bring her up in a subject that she not even a part of, some white folk are sooo mezmerized by our you can kiss my black a** attitude , it completely leaves you talkig about us,when you are the last things on our minds. You are a fool. lol!
        I would rather be ghetto or white trash, then your boring snowy white behind.

    • Janet

      I totally agree! She said she moved 2 AZ “just 2 get away”… Yea, get away from gettin whacked! She is absolutely out of her mind 2 jump in a pool of pirhannas (sp?)!!

    • Big Un

      Mix those crazy $%^itches with Jersey Shore and have them kill each other.

  • The Fall of Rome

    The sooner homo sapiens dies off the better.

    • Dorimifah Solatido

      You first!

  • Andy

    Once I saw the one woman choke the other in the preview, I was hooked. :(

    • Gabriela

      I ran the 5k yesterday.The run went well, it vaired with 15-20meter.Longest was in the last 5 rounds and got the same distance. Nancy Rx. (45Kg)Time 12:58I have two questions .1.) Are there others who suffer from pain in your calf muscles, what to do about.. suggestions?2.) What are you doing to warm up for today’s endurance 10x30hill sprint?

  • Pam

    What is it saying about our society that programs like this prosper and Parenthood, The Good Wife and Friday Night Lights have to fight for an audience?

    • Sarah

      Pam- couldn’t agree with you more!!!!!!!

    • Dissenter

      I’d just like to remind you that all three of the programs you mentioned [all favs of mine] have around the same or higher number of viewers as this abysmal show. Only this show needs less viewers to be “successful” because it’s a cable show. The other 3 are network shows.




      would love a responce from you much love chick just like a hi or something are you friends vV GOTTI

      • K

        …who are you talking to?

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        That post was pretty indicative of the intellect demonstrated on this show.

  • girlie

    More East Coast crap! I wouldn’t watch 1 second!

  • Joey C.

    I’m Italian and I’m from NYC and I’m appalled and disgusted. I’m also an aspiring television writer and I’m even MORE appalled and disgusted that this gets on the air and shows like ones mentioned above have to fight for ratings. I do think our country is heading for a fall when crap like this is glorified. God help us.

    • Rosie D.

      I am an Italian woman that lived in SI for 45 years. I now live in NC. After watching Mob Wives, I will tell the people I meet that I am Spanish and moved here from Buffalo. I am disgusted and appalled.

      • flippo

        nothing could ever make me not want to be italian.

      • Rosie D.

        Kidding. Of course I am proud of my Italian heritage. However, this bunch of “Old Snookies” really infuriate me. Not every woman of Italian heritage born in Staten Island talks like an uneducated animal and wants to beat people up.

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        Repugnant as she may be, I don’t think Snooki has anything to do with guys that kill, steal & terrorize for a living.

    • Davey L

      Thats how I feel being black and male trying to fight the stereotypes put out by ever show on BET for the past 20 years

      • fran beard

        YAAAY!!!!ME 2!!!!

      • greta

        me 3!

  • Cookie Fleck

    Can we talk about that poor madmen logo knockoff

    • Dorimifah Solatido


  • Erika

    I watched for a bit but, when one of them said “All the good men are in prison”… Then went on to explain why they aren’t bad because they don’t hurt their famlies. Ugh, I came to my senses and turned it off. Yea, they don’t hurt their families just other peoples. Makes me sick.

    • fran beard

      I don’t plan to come to my senses about this show until ALL the ghetto shows are cancelled . now u know how we feel!

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        Lighten up, fran – no one thinks “What’s Happenning!” was a documentary.

      • greta

        is your family in the mob? your name ends in a vowel?

  • matt

    The writer of this article and all those who enjoy this show are a disgrace. Why do we glorify known, convicted violent fellons? Lets have a show about the neighbor who accidentally hit John Gotti’s son with his car. He disappeared and ended up in a barrel of acid. Great family TV. Not quite the lovable Soprano’s.

  • Terri

    Excellent writing but “woman” should be “women”.

  • Fed up

    no more reality TV…. it’s mindless junk,destroying US society and its youth…. get this crap off the air

  • BP2

    I loved it! They are so much more entertaining than the housewives, and since I can’t have the Soprano’s…

    • Amanpreet

      You are commenting using your Twitter oncauct. ( ) You are commenting using your Facebook oncauct. ( ) Connecting to %s Notify me of follow-up comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.jQuery( function( $ ) {$( ‘#hiab-script-1′ ).parents( ‘form’ ).append( ” );} ); My poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2011, Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Indiana Review, The Journal,

  • RayT

    I am someone who has always scoffed at people who railed against TV shows as being the “end of the world” for their hyperbolic comments but this show seriously crosses a line. People complain about the kids on “Jersey Shore”, but all they do is get drunk and have sex (like every other 20-something-year-old regardless of race or ethnicity). They have broken the law for minor incidents like bar fights, but they have at least seemed somewhat remorseful and recognized that their behavior went too far. “Mob Wives” is a completely different story. These women are actually BRAGGING about being criminals. You can say, “Oh, it’s not them, it was their husbands/fathers” but that’s a cop-out. They are living a life built from crime. All the fur coats, giant houses, and expensive cars they proudly flaunt were paid for with blood money or money from stolen property. Regardless of its careless portrayal in popular culture, the mafia is not a joke. Their victims are just as real as you and I: people who end up robbed, terrorized, or dead. I have never encouraged people to not watch a show ever before, and I absolutely hate the zealots of the Parents Television Council, because I believe fiction is fiction, but this is not fiction. If we watch this show, and it gets good ratings, we are actually putting money into the pockets of real criminals. These women should be ashamed of their husbands and families; they should be stripped of their ill-gotten riches, not filmed enjoying them laughing at we law-abiding citizens for not having them. “Jersey Shore” is funny; this is absolutely disgusting.

    • @RayT


    • mw

      @RayT – AGREED

      • mw

        And I meant AGREED to the FIRST RayT, not the second one, who is clearly a moron by laughing at the murder and extortion of thousands of people.

    • j

      well put. I did not even know about the show and will be sure to avoid it. Even if they have money they sure look pretty rough and unattractive. Guess money does not buy you class or taste.

    • k8dee

      At least they are honest about it. How about all the political families whose fortunes are built off of crimes and like to pretend that their money is clean? The Bushes (war profiteers) The Kennedys (bootleggers), damn near all the “Founding Fathers” (who almost all of them literally OWNED people). There is a certain sense of truth in their vulgarity. I’m sure after a couple generations of Harvard and Yale and donating hospital wings, they will be just as cultured as the scions of wealthy society.

      • Squishmar

        K8dee: you make an excellent point.

    • Carol

      Very well put RayT. Thank you.

    • Dorimifah Solatido

      Your points are well taken, but the problem is more with the conditions in society that allow them to exist in the first place rather than the fact that people like to see them depicted on TV.

  • nathalie

    I fu@%in loved it!!! at least it was entertaining. was it vulgar? yes. violent absolutely. will I watch again? you better believe it. these bitches were like buttah… one big stick o buttah!

    • Dorimifah Solatido

      What’s it like being a brainless waste of oxygen?

    • MURAT

      WOD 16:14IMO hardest part was manatniniig grip on toes to bar. oh, and burpeees, holy moly. on a brighter note, something clicked in my head on double unders today (maybe it’s because i was actually using a good rope and had plenty of space) and i nailed about 2 sets of 20 DU’s in a row. wow took 4 months to get that down!

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