MTV's 'Made In Staten Island': Does it fairly represent borough?

David Caplan
January 11, 2019 - 4:01 pm

MTV

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- When "Jersey Shore" debuted on MTV in 2009, it was panned by many New Jerseyians as misrepresentative of the Garden State. Now the same thing is happening with "Made In Staten Island," premiering on MTV on Monday.

The show follows a group of young adults who have grown up in the shadow of the mafia. The show's description, according to MTV, is "Staten Island was home to New York’s most notorious mafia families. Now, a new crop of hustlers has emerged in MTV’s 'Made in Staten Island' ... The coming-of-age series follows eight Staten Islanders as they battle each other, and the odds, to step out from the shadows and change the reputation of the island. These friends will either choose wisely, or fall prey to the mistakes of past generations."

But the show's premise doesn't sit well with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tweeted, "Anyone who has spent any time on Staten Island knows MTV is peddling stereotypes in a shameless ratings grab."

And New York City councilman Joe Borelli -- a regular foe of the mayor -- agreed with him, and slammed the show, as well, tweeting, "This can't be serious. This is embarassing. I don't even know what to say."

There's even a Change.org petition -- with more than 7,300 signatures -- calling for the cancellation of the show or the removal of the borough's name from the show's title. 

The show's producer knows a thing or two about the mob and about MTV's take on reality shows: It's "Mob Wives" star Karen Gravano. 

Gravano has scoffed at the show's criticism, saying, "It’s not glorifying criminal activity. It’s about kids making it through the struggle."

And in a piece for the Staten Island Advance newspaper, borough native Tom Wrobleski doesn't completely disagree with the premise of the show, admitting that he went to school with people similar to those featured in the show.

"Yep, there’s nothing more precedent-shattering for a show about Staten Island than cloaking yourself in the mantle of the mob. Such originality ... I would rather that Staten Island be known for its great parks or beautiful waterfront ... [but> I can’t disagree with any of it. The people I see on shows like this... are the kind of people I hid from in grammar school."

And judging by the cast members' bios, there's little stereotype-quashing going on.

There's Karina, for example, who "has the guidance of her grandfathr, Sammy 'The Bull' Gravino." Her boyfriend, Christian -- aka "CP" -- meanwhile, "is a true hustler always striving for the top."

Joe "is the 'charmer of the South Shore' who is constantly tempted by the fast money from the streets."

Kayla is "the muscle of the crew. She has a reputation for never backing down from a good Staten Island fight."

Dennie, meanwhile, is the "Godmutha" of the group. And Taylor? Well, she's a "'guy's girl' wil no tolerance for attitude or disrespect."