Mob Wives, renamed Mob Wives: New Blood for the fourth season, is an American reality television series on VH1 that made its debut April 17, 2011. It follows a group of Staten Island women after their husbands or fathers are arrested and imprisoned for crimes connected to the Mafia.
The idea for the show came from Jennifer "Jenn" Graziano, sister of cast member Renee Graziano. The second season of the series 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 Season 3. It was announced on December 11, 2012 that the third season would debut on January 6, 2013 with new cast member Love Majewski. It was revealed on May 14, 2013, by cast member Renee Graziano that Mob Wives had been renewed for a fourth season, although it had not been officially announced by VH1 at the time. Cast member Ramona Rizzo was interviewed during New York Fashion Week where she mentioned that herself, Karen Gravano, and Carla Facciolo would not be returning for the series' fourth season. Season 4 brings a new title, Mob Wives: New Blood, and two new cast members: Alicia DiMichele Garofalo and Natalie Guerico. It premiered on December 5, 2013.
On February 19, 2014, VH1 renewed Mob Wives for a fifth season with production beginning in mid-2014.
Timeline of Wives:
Angela "Big Ang" Raiola
Renee Graziano, who describes herself as a "loud, foul-mouthed drama queen", is the daughter of Anthony Graziano, an active leader in the Bonanno crime family. As a result of her involvement in the show, Renee has had a difficult relationship with her father, but they are slowly starting to reconcile their relationship. Renee is currently divorced from Hector Pagan, Jr., who was convicted of running a marijuana distribution ring; they have a son, AJ. Junior was featured on the second season of Mob Wives, in which he betrayed his former wife's family by wearing a wire-tapped watch. He used the evidence gathered by his watch and turned her father into "the Feds", in accordance with his plea bargain agreement. In season three of Mob Wives, Renee revealed that Junior had written her a letter, in which he admonished Renee to not pollute their son's mind into thinking he has a bad father for betraying the family.
Drita D'Avanzo works as a freelance makeup artist and is of Albanian ancestry. Her husband Lee D'Avanzo is a reported Bonanno Crime Family and Colombo Crime Family soldier who was in prison for his second bank robbery conviction in Season 1. They have two daughters: Aleeya, who was nine in Season 1, and Gizelle, who was three. Lee D'Avanzo, who was 32 in December 2001, is the son of the late Lewis D'Avanzo, an estranged cousin of Rudolph Giuliani. Before marrying Drita, Lee had dated fellow Mob Wives cast member Karen Gravano for 7 years. The couple had even lived together.
Angela "Big Ang" Raiola:
(Season 2 - present),
Angela "Big Ang" Raiola (born June 30, 1960) is the niece of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi, a deceased captain of the Genovese crime family. Raiola co-owns the bar Drunken Monkey. The mother of two has two sisters and four brothers, and is separated from her sanitation worker husband, Neil Murphy, who appears in episode 1 of Big Ang and proposes moving back in. Raiola made an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show on January 28, 2013, and showed her diamond ring with Neil sitting in the audience. Raiola also stars in her second spin-off, Miami Monkey.
(Season 4 - present)
Born December 22, 1982, in South Philadelphia and is of Sicilian American descent. She is the granddaughter of Nunzio Carto, owner of Carto Funeral Home in Philadelphia, which she also helps run. Before becoming involved in the show, Natalie also worked as a stylist and still does styling on the side. Natalie has one, 9 year old son, Nunzio Gianni -- her grandfather's namesake. Natalie and Nunzio's father are no longer together.
(Seasons 1 - 3),
Karen Gravano is the daughter of Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, a former underboss of the Gambino crime family and federal informant. She was formerly in a seven-year relationship with Drita D'Avanzo's husband, Lee, before moving to Arizona. The single mother has one daughter, Karina, who makes appearances on the show, as does Karina's father, David Seabrook, who lives in Arizona in a house Gravano owns. On Mob Wives, the couple refer to David as Karen's former fiancé, and in season three, Gravano learns from her daughter that Seabrook is having a relationship with a new woman. Karen and David were involved together as part of Sammy's drug ring in Arizona.
(Seasons 1 - 3),
Carla Facciolo grew up in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn,she is the daughter of Gambino crime family associate Louis Facciolo and is also the niece of Lucchese crime family mobster Bruno Facciolo. She was married to stockbroker Joseph Ferragamo, who was convicted of what VH1 calls "a boiler-room scandal". They have twins Joe and Carmen. She is a stay-at-home mother and sales representative for a juice company.
(Seasons 2 - 3),
Ramona Rizzo is the granddaughter of former mobster Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero, who was played by Al Pacino in the movie Donnie Brasco, and a childhood friend of Karen Gravano. Rizzo was married for one year to a Jordanian man before divorcing in 2008. They have four children: Giovanni, Anissa, Melina, and Gianna.Episode 2.07 ("Mob Daughters") addresses Ramona's reaction to the arrest and possible long-term incarceration of her boyfriend, Joseph Sclafani, "a reputed Gambino crime-family soldier". On August 16, 2013, Sclafani was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to distributing cocaine.
Love Majewski is the ex-fiancée of Ray Merolle, Jr., who was the alleged leader of The Untouchables car-theft ring. She appeared in episode 1.9 of the Investigation Discovery television series, I Married a Mobster: "Love Hurts" (7 September 2011), wherein she described her prior relationship with another former member of The Untouchables, Chris Paciello, and explained that when Chris became abusive, Love requested Merolle's protection, "becoming at once his personal property and accomplice to theft". The following excerpt from a 23 June 2011 Daily Mail review of the show describes Love's experiences with the two men:
"Another episode follows the story of Love Majewski, another mob daughter, who fell for Chris Paciello, a member of the Bonanno crime family and The Untouchables, Ray Merolle's car-theft operation which inspired the film Gone in 60 Seconds. She herself became an accomplice to theft though, when Paciello, like Bonina, became violent and she needed to call on the protection of Merolle. After their relationship ended, Paciello moved to Miami, where he was arrested for allegedly murdering a porn king's wife. He is now a restaurant owner in LA, while Ms. Majewski lives in Staten Island."
Majewski was let go by the series' production companies, Left/Rright Productions and Just Jenn Productions, and did not return to the series nor did she partake in the season three reunion taping.
Alicia DiMichele Garofalo:
Alicia DiMichele Garofalo is the wife of Edward "The Tall Guy" Garofalo. She has three children: Anthony, Rocco, and Carlo. She is the co-owner of Addiction Boutiques along with her brother, with two locations, one in South Philadelphia, and the other in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Garofalo announced her departure from the series in April 2014.
Nikole (Season 1-present), Renee's best friend.,
Janine Detore (Season 1-present), Big Ang's sister and niece of Salvatore "Sally Dogs" Lombardi.,
Anthony "A.J." D'Onofrio (Season 2-present), Big Ang's 23-year old son. D'Onofrio is seen attempting to put his life back together in season two by working at a local pizzeria. D'Onofrio was arrested at the end of season two and is incarcerated in season three.,
AJ Pagan (Season 1-present), Renee and Junior's son.,
Linda Torres (Season 2-present), Big Ang's friend.,
Hector "Junior" Pagan (Seasons 1-2),Renee's ex-husband and AJ's father. Junior's relationship with Renee and AJ is strained due to his cooperation with the federal authorities. Pagan had a recurring role in seasons one and two but is no longer affiliated with the series.,
Etty (Season 1-3), Carla's friend. She is a legal jewelry appraiser, as seen in the series.,
Rana Gravano (Season 1-3), Karen's cousin.,
Eleanor (Seasons 1-3), Carla's friend and former co-worker.,
Joseph "Joe" Ferragamo (Seasons 1-3), Carla's estranged husband. In season two, Ferragamo is released from prison to live in a halfway house. In season three, he lives in his own home with his girlfriend, Racquel.,
April 17, 2011
June 26, 2011
July 10, 2011
January 1, 2012
May 13, 2012
May 20, 2012,
May 27, 2012
January 6, 2013
April 7, 2013
April 21, 2013
December 5, 2013
February 20, 2014
February 27, 2014
Mob Wives Chicago, debuted on June 10, 2012. Also in June 2012, Mob Wives executive producer, Jennifer Graziano, announced that Raiola would be getting her own spinoff show, Big Ang, which premiered on July 8, 2012.Miami Monkey is the third Mob Wives spin-off that premiered September 8, 2013.
Jennifer Graziano announced in October 2012 that Mob Wives Miami and Mob Wives Philadelphia had both been cast but VH1 never green-lit either projects.
The 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 between 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 story lines 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 called it a "tired concept, is so bad it should sleep with fishes". The review also said "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" 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 (the one pictured is a real piece of work) 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 not happy about the show. Jackie Colucci, whose brother Joseph was murdered by Sammy "The Bull" Gravano in 1970, stated: "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".