Mob Wives seemed destined to be a hit on concept alone – a fascinating glimpse into the lives of America’s ever-elusive mafia = ratings gold! But five seasons later Renee Graziano, whose sister created the show, and Karen Gravano, who rejoined this season, are discussing how the show has affected their lives, what it’s done for their relationships, and what they’ve learned from it all!
Renee’s life has gone through incredible changes on-screen from, rekindling with her ex-husband Junior Pagan, only to learn he ratted out her father and then got sent to prison for murder, to battling addiction.
“I have gotten use to my personal life being aired. I only wish the whole truth was told,” admits Renee. “I think I’d be more respected and less hated or not looked at like a drama queen, but as a woman who has been dealt a hand and still finds a way to pull aces and jokers when in need. You know about a third of what I have experienced as a daughter, as a wife, as a woman, and as a victim, or as I prefer: survivor.”
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Renee says although she sometimes feels the show mis-portrays her life, she loves that it has given her a voice in “a community of women that need support” and possibly can save lives. “Although my life is being exposed at its most vulnerable times, it’s the raw intensity that is helping others realize I am not different and sad, unfortunate things happen to people of all races and religions.”
Karen echos that sentiment, and praises the show for giving her an outlet to speak the truth about her life. “I have always been affiliated with that lifestyle, I just never spoke about it growing up. The word ‘mob’ was taboo. So now to actually acknowledge the lifestyle is different and strange… But as far as being part of the show, it’s been a great experience.”
“It has been a springboard to launch other stuff and it’s been fun to work with the girls, well at least some of them,” Karen adds. She absolutely feels reality TV has been a positive in her life. She’s considering on a sequel to her book Mob Daughter – and she’s also hopeful to get her own Mob Wives spinoff! “I want to definitely work on the second book and possibly producing something that would involve my family more, maybe like a television series or possibly a movie,” she tells HNGN.
However, both ladies admit reality TV, and the precarious mafia lifestyle in general, has caused them some regrets, although they are grateful for their experiences and think positively.
“I don’t believe in living in the past and everything happens for a reason, so I wouldn’t change a thing…,” Karen quips. “Wait, well maybe some of my wardrobe choices and hairstyles!”
“I would like to say never have done drugs, but if I say that then I couldn’t have done some of the good I have, and if I said never married my son’s father, I wouldn’t have A.J. to hug and hold,” Renee considers. “So in all actuality I don’t know what I would change. Maybe just my hair color or the way I spoke to others. Wait, I think I know… I wish I didn’t curse as much!”
As for her ongoing battle with addiction, Renee says it’s much harder to maintain sobriety while filming. “Relapse is a part of recovery but the truth is it’s worse while in season,” she confesses.
On the positive, Renee says her son A.J. is doing “amazing,” however she has seen the toll the lifestyle has taken on him. So sad. “Strongest young man I know. …but if there was something I could do to make him smile like he used to, I would be a better mom and let him have been more of a child then a grown man at such a young age.”
Karen says her daughter Katrina is doing “great” and will continue to appear on the show, but not as prevalently. “She does appear with me and films a lot, but I don’t think she’ll ever be a regular. She can wait for when they audition for ‘Mob Grandkids,'” Karen laughs.
Of course, the ladies also dish on drama with co-stars. On her on-and-off issues with Drita D’avanzo, Karen says right now things are good between them! “At this point I don’t feel like me and Drita have a beef, but in the prior seasons I think it was just pertaining to friendship and honestly I just chalk it up like we have different values of friendship.”
She also calls Ramona Rizzo, “family” and says reality TV hasn’t changed that. “We will always have a friendship,” explains Karen. “That wasn’t something made up for TV. There are years of history, so we will always be good.”
“Listen, I fight hard and I love hard, but honestly I’m a very easygoing, passive person, unless someone is attacking me or someone I love,” contributes Karen. “But I’m definitely loving and vulnerable when it comes to people I care about.”
In fact this season the drama is about to get more intense. “I refuse to go down without a fight,” warns Renee. “This is probably the most interesting season, and there’s never a dull moment,” adds Karen. “Just when everything seems to calm down, that’s when the heart of the storm will strike.” We’ve noticed…
Great interview ladies – very honest and thoughtful. I am enjoying this season of Mob Wives, I have to say, but yes my heart always aches a little bit for Renee, who also said she hopes to find love with a “real man.”
TELL US – ARE YOU SURPRISED BY HOW HONEST RENEE AND KAREN WERE ABOUT HOW THE SHOW AND THE LIFESTYLE HAS AFFECTED THEM?
[Photo Credit: Instagram]