Staten Island isn't always the first borough you think of when you hear New York City. But the new MTV reality show Made in Staten Island wants to put the tight-knit community on the map. The show centers around eight young men and women who all have ties to the mob and crime families but are trying their best to disassociate with those criminal ways. Although the show hasn't even premiered yet there is already a petition with thousands of signatures asking for the show to be canceled. Here is everything you need to know about MTV's controversial show Made in Staten Island.
What is Made in Staten Island about?
Some fans may remember the hit show from VH1 Mob Wives that centered around Renee Graziano, Karan Gravano and a few other fast-talking hard-hitting wives of mobsters who were as hot-headed and ready to fight as you would expect. Although Gravano's daughter, Karina Seabrook, is one of the cast member's of MTV's new show, the 19-year-old is not as explosive as her mother or the other Mob Wives. “I did see that [the cast of ‘Mob Wives’] started off as friends, and that there was a lot of drama,” Seabrook said. “So I know to watch my back. I don’t like to be dramatic.”
Karen Gravano who is producing Made in Staten Island is the daughter of notorious mobster "Sammy the Bull” Gravano from the Gambino crime family who was recently paroled after a 17-year prison sentence. Seabrook is happy to be the mobster's granddaughter and doesn't see him the same way others might. "To me, he’s just my grandfather,” she said. “Nothing else matters.”
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Made in Staten Island cast
Other cast members include Paulie Fusco who is Seabrook's boyfriend and is described as a "hustler"; Kayla Gonzalez who "never backs down from a fight"; Dennie Augustine who is known as the partying "godmother" of the group; Christian aka C.P. who is a "ladies man with a heart of gold"; Taylor O'Toole who has "a low tolerance for disrespect" and Joe O'Toole who is "tempted by the street life."
When the new show was announced by MTV backlash came quickly even from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio "Anyone who has spent any time on Staten Island knows MTV is peddling stereotypes in a shameless ratings grab," de Blasio tweeted last week about the show. City Councilman Joseph C. Borelli also voiced his negative opinions on the show to the New York Times, "We’ve been stereotyped before but now they are playing this stereotype out among kids and glorifying a life of crime. They are stereotyping Italian-Americans on Staten Island as having a connection to criminal enterprises. If you named any other race, religion or creed, people would be upset about that.”
The cast, however, is not surprised that people are judging the show and think that audiences should give Made in Staten Island a chance. "You know what the thing is? I kinda knew from the beginning there was going to be backlash on it, especially where we're from," Patterson said. "I can't blame people for the way they are, but at the end of the day, I knew I was going to have to open up about stuff that at a certain time in my life I was not comfortable with."
The cast also agreed that there are stereotypes, but instead of capitalizing on them they are trying to change them. "The only thing we can define is ourselves and that's what we try to portray through the show," Augustine said. "Whatever stigmas it seems like we're trying to break, I think we're just trying to break what people may think about anyone really. Everyone is judgmental and you really don't know somebody until you know them [in real life]."