Mob Wives is an American reality television series that aired on VH1 for six seasons from April 17, 2011, to March 16, 2016. Created by Jennifer Graziano, the series follows a group of Staten Island women after their family members are arrested and imprisoned for crimes that are allegedly connected to the Mafia.
In December 2015, VH1 announced its decision to end the series after its sixth season, which premiered on January 13, 2016. On February 18, 2016, cast member Angela Raiola, who joined the series during the second season, died from complications of throat cancer and pneumonia.
The 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.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.
Jennifer Graziano announced in October 2012 that Mob Wives Miami and Mob Wives Philadelphia had both been cast, but VH1 never green-lit either project.
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 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 (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 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".