'Made In Staten Island' Season 1: The reality of Staten Island vs reality TV shows on the forgotten borough
Recently the city councilman shared that the forgotten borough has more to offer than just mob history. Here is what Islanders have to say about their home on social media
MTV's latest installation of a reality show based in Staten Island has already made the locals sigh "ugh, not again!" The southernmost borough is no stranger to a stereotyped representation of a Mafia dominated neighborhood, thanks to decades of such-themed shows that Islanders have to continuously defend their borough from the New Yorkers despite being from the same region. 'Made in Staten Island' is the fifth series featuring Staten Islanders in the last nine years from Viacom and other networks, including the Food Network and CNBC, that have also used the "forgotten borough" as a backdrop to their shows.
While the show has been at the receiving end of all the harshest criticism, the most savage comment has been made by city councilman Joe Borelli, who represents Staten Island’s south shore. Taking to Twitter, he first described it to be "embarrassing", and later in the interview explained that the major problem with the show is the glorification of crime amongst teenagers.
This can’t be serious.— Joe Borelli (@JoeBorelliNYC) December 19, 2018
This is embarrassing.
I don’t even know what to say.https://t.co/yw56b9AlF6
The show's trailer, released by MTV, starts with the introduction of Karina Seabrook, granddaughter of Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano, who narrates, "We grew up surrounded by the mob. But now, we are trying to find our own way." This naturally upset Islanders, whose borough consists of roughly 4.79 lakh people. "Staten Island is also known for being a huge bedroom community where so many public servants including cops, firemen, teachers, government office workers live and own single-family houses with basements and front/backyards," wrote a Quora user.
The locals believe that their little place has attracted unwanted attention because of the notorious past of being a safe haven for mobsters in New York City.
Over the years, the borough has continued to develop and Islanders are determined to change its reputation. However, the unwanted attention that reality TV calls for only works against their efforts.
"If the makers of MTV want to make a reality show about Staten Island, they’re welcome to follow me on my mountain bike or follow me eating my way through Staten Island. Shameless pitch for me so if you’re watching MTV, I’m available," Borelli said in the interview. His justification was that since the borough is getting the extra attention, why not focus on other things the place has to offer.
For example, a user named Antonella212 wrote that if "they wanted to really depict Staten Island," they have to focus on all the aspects of the island, including the "traffic, discuss the importance of wearing no jacket in the mall, & the rule of leasing a pricey car just to park in front of Angelina’s & Marina Cafe in the summer." A mother going by the name of Mari shared the story of her two sons who both turned out to be successful; one became an engineer and another got a degree in pharmacy. She pointed out "You will never see a reality show about young men that actually are more mature than a good population of this island."
Another frustrated user named James Pistilli wrote that he is "tired of SI being depicted negatively."
"We have so much to be proud of and so many great accomplishments and contributions that should be portrayed," he tweeted.
Katherine Kuhn asked MTV to "just cancel 'Made In Staten Island'," because the "reputation is bad enough."
Can MTV just cancel Made In Staten Island now and spare us the embarrassment please, like our reputation is bad enough we don’t need your tv show’s help.— Katherine Kuhn (@KattKuhn) December 28, 2018
When a user in the online platform asked Staten Islanders what their borough is famous for, a user noted "what Staten Island is known for and what it should be known for are different concepts," and went on to share the experience of growing up in the island.
"Green space. Staten Island has more space per capita than the other boroughs. It also has some great places to hike and get into nature," Elliot Porter noted. Another advantage of the borough is more living space for less money. "Within earshot of Manhattan, you could live in Staten Island for less money than many of the other boroughs. True, you might need to take the ferry to Manhattan, but you could also take the express bus," he explained. The ferry boats mentioned, run 24/7, 365 days of the year between Staten Island and Manhattan.
A major attraction site of the borough is a Snugg Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, which used to be a former retirement home for old sailors in bygone days. "Today Snugg Harbor is a concentration of organizations which collectively promote awareness and appreciation of art and culture. In addition, it is home to an elaborate collection of beautiful botanical gardens," an Islander wrote in the same platform.
The borough also boasts several old buildings on the grounds dating back to the 1800s including the Snugg Harbour.
Oh, and also not to forget the amazing Italian food and authentic Sri Lankan food, which even the late Anthony Bourdain agreed is great.