Monday, April 18, 2011

Mob Wives: Recap Ep 101 Made in Staten Island

I watched the first episode of VH1’s new show, which was an introduction of the four Mob Wives. I found it very choppy and fragmented. They switch from one woman to another and from one scene to another and I didn’t think it had “flow” which made it hard to follow. I did the best I could trying to make sense of it all without having to watch it again.

Renee Graziano seems very proud of the mob lifestyle and boasts of the mob’s “code of ethics of honor, respect and loyalty.” And she sums it up with, “Loyalty is everything.” She goes on to explain that when Sammy Gravano ratted out John Gotti, her father, Anthony Graziano, told her she had to cut all ties and communication with Karen, his daughter. Renee is very firm on this point regarding Karen. “Her father is a rat and she is his daughter.” My problem with Renee is that she is a hypocrite. She picks and chooses which of her father’s beliefs and wishes she needs to follow. She says she cut off ties with Karen because Daddy said so, but she will not respect his wishes not to do this VH1 show with her sister. In fact, by agreeing to the show, she is disrespecting both of her father’s wishes because she knows full well that communication with Karen would be required. So, that leaves me to question, what is her idea of loyalty and respect? Renee’s father and ex-husband, Hector “Junior” Pagan are both in prison, so there is little they can do about the show.

Karen Gravano returns to Staten Island for two reasons: one, to be on the show and two, to write an autobiography of her life. She has left her daughter in Arizona with family, just in case her participation in the show is not “safe.” I’m not sure what makes her think that if the “mob” feels she is being disloyal, that Arizona is safe. Karen knows her return to S.I. is not going to go over big with everyone because of what her father did. Karen’s father, Sammy, is also in prison. Karen likes to “act” tough and talk tough, but the whole hour seemed scripted, like she was acting the whole time, and not very well I might add. The first order of business is for Karen to meet with Drita. They have some unfinished business from the past to take care of. I found them surprisingly cordial to one another considering that Karen lived with Drita’s husband for 7 years prior to Drita marrying him. Drita seems to play down her husband’s past with Karen, while Karen seems to harbor some burning resentment just under the surface. When Karen sees a painting at Drita’s house, that she bought with Lee for their apartment, and had hanging in their bedroom, she makes a nasty remark into the camera. That tells me that Karen has not quite gotten past this issue.

Carla Facciolo has been friends with Renee since she was 16. When her husband Joe was arrested for stock fraud, her reaction was, “Uh, there goes another one!” She more or less expected it because she has lived her whole life watching family go to prison and visiting them there. She almost brags that when she visited relatives in jail it was like a big reunion. She has twin boys, Joseph and Carmen, who still do not know that their father, Joe Ferragamo, is in prison.

Drita D’avanzo is Albanian. She is married to Lee D’avanzo, who is also in prison. Lee calls Drita 5 times a week to place orders for all of his favorite things. During the show, Drita gets a call where he orders, among other things, a variety of cold cuts, sausages, ring dings, and vanilla coke. Drita boxes it up for him. I have never heard of an inmate being able to order take out and have it delivered to prison. Drita also likes to work out at the gym. She talks tough and brags about all the fights she has been in. She is muscular and overall, from her language and voice, manner of speech and attitude, she is not very feminine.

Drita and Carla seem to like Karen and don’t hold what her father did against her. So when Carla is planning her “35th” birthday party, she and Drita decide it would be a good idea to invite Karen and not mention it to Renee. When the big night arrives, they manage to make sure Renee, who is in “party mode,” has several shots of Patron (tequila). Renee is having quite a good time drinking and being the “center of attention,” as she refers to herself. When she is good and drunk, Karen makes her entrance to the party, which is well underway. Immediately, there is a confrontation between Renee and Karen. Renee is not happy and wants Karen to leave. Karen refuses. After all, she didn’t come all the way from Arizona to S.I. and sign a contract to be in the show, just to turn around and go back home. The party showdown ends with neither of the two women leaving.

Come to think of it, there is no way Renee didn’t know that Karen was going to be on the show, at the party and involved in all the drama. Wasn’t that the whole point? There has to be conflict to get ratings and keep viewers coming back. Renee’s sister, Jenn, is producing the show and everyone stands to make a lot of money only if the show is a hit and remains on the air. So is Renee really mad or glad to see Karen? Karen’s father has the most well known reputation for being the mob rat, and his crimes are a matter of record and documented in his tell all book, Underboss. Her presence is sure to draw viewers.

Oh, by the way, I could have sworn Carla said this was her 35th birthday. I thought I remembered her being older than that, so I checked online. Sources say that Carla did in fact have a birthday in January, but she was allegedly born in 1967 which would make her 44 years old. That is much more credible to me. Since only photos can be airbrushed, maybe she is better off sticking to her true age rather than trying to shave 9 years off of it?

The show seems to be trying to illicit some sympathy and compassion for these women, who have been left high and dry while the men in their lives are serving time for their alleged crimes. They are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together as they struggle as single mothers. Sniff, sniff. Please pass the Kleenex! Yet, from what I saw, none of the women appear to work, but they all have lovely homes and plenty of money. Renee had a fistful of cash as she ordered drinks at the bar the night of the party. Seems to me like they are still reaping plenty of the benefits of being connected to the mob.

Frankly, considering all the mobsters these women are connected to are in prison, dead, or in hiding, I would have renamed the episode, “While The Cat’s Away.” These women all look like they are enjoying “play” acting in the spotlight and having a damn good time spending money.


Mob Mistress said...

So I take it that you're not a Mob Wives' cheerleader or goonette Chiara?

I really enjoyed your take on an hour of introductions, history and rat beef.

I need to deMOB myself before I tackle my recap.

Chiara Soprano said...

I am not a fan yet. I understand it was an introduction episode, so they had a lot to get into the hour. However, I find the dialogue contrived to a certain degree and their behavior leaves a lot to be desired. They are just a little too "proud" of all their family members have accomplished.