'Made In Staten Island': Chill with the backlash, the show is more about teen angst than street hustling
Even before the upcoming Staten Island show has premiered, MTV's 'Made In Staten Island,' has drawn a lot of criticism from the Staten Islanders who believe adding another reality show about their borough for the sake of entertainment brings unwanted and negative attention to their hometown.
"We grew up surrounded by the mob, but now we are trying to find our own way," the trailer narrates. The reality series comes from the star of MTV's previous Staten Island installation 'Mob Wives', Karen Gravano, daughter of Salvatore Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano. The upcoming show follows the story of her daughter Karina, along with six of her friends, who grew up living with the repercussions of having organized crime connections to the family they are born into.
Recently, the show was criticized by islanders, who claimed the teens were "wannabe's", and councilman Joe Borelli called it "embarrassing" on social media. He even went on to accuse the show of glamorizing crime among teenagers. However, an hour into the pilot episode, there's a quick realization the show is more about teenage angst than street hustling.
Of course, the stereotypical "hustle" part of Staten Island is present, but it is not the primary premise of the show. Typical of teenagers and youth in the age group of 19-22, all the seven protagonists of the show are juggling and struggling through life with teenage angst more than the so-called thug life.
Kayla, who lands in court for getting into a fight, has a lot to learn about anger management and is seeking therapy for it. Karina, whose belief is "What doesn’t kill you makes you a boss," has an important decision to make - whether she should pursue college outside of the island or stay back for the sake of her relationship.
Paulie, Karina's boyfriend, is waiting tables at a restaurant but has a major ambition to be at the top. Paulie and Karina have their own share of relationship trouble as they keep fighting and making up time and again. Dennie, on the other hand, is moving back to Staten Island after completing her college. All these nuances are universal enough to be considered teenage angst, but maybe, just maybe, because the story is set in the backdrop of the notorious island, the story becomes more intense and their lives join the dots to their mob ancestry.
With that being said, the one individual who is in serious trouble is the narrator we first meet on the pilot episode. Christian aka CP is facing a potential prison sentence for attempted murder. He explains to the viewers he was one of the hundred teens partying the night an 18-year-old was stabbed. "I was at a wrong place at the wrong time," CP says on the show.
Visiting his father in jail is his wake-up call that he does not want to end up like his old man. So, he affirms on how he's staying away from trouble on the streets. Staten Island, which was once a mob-driven borough, has a reputation of being notorious and has served as the setting for many reality series including 'Staten Island Hustle,' and 'Mob Wives.'
Famous reality TV personalities have also hailed from this borough including three cast members of 'Jersey Shore' ; Vinny Guadagnino, Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino, and Angelina 'Not A Dirty Hamster' Pivarnick. Staten Islanders, as mentioned above, are fed up with the flashy mob projection of their island, but 'Made in Staten Island,' is actually far from that.
The connections are lurking, but that's just the backdrop. The main story focuses on the teenagers navigating their life because they don't want to end up like the previous generations, not just because they are in jail or have a criminal background, but also because no teenager, around the world, wants to be like the older generation. They have dreams of their own, and find ways to go about it. Except, if you are from Staten Island, finding your way is called "hustling."
The struggles are universal, the labels are not. 'Made In Staten Island,' premieres January 14.