Karen Gravano Explains the Difference Between MTV’s ‘Families of the Mafia’ and VH1’s ‘Mob Wives’

The first rule of being part of a mafia family is not to talk about it. Or so the world thought. Reality TV shows like Mob Wives and Families of the Mafia flip that narrative on its head. Suddenly, audiences are being welcomed into the homes of the most famous mafia families, including Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and his daughter, Karen. 

Now, MTV camera crews are back in Karen Gravano’s home for Families of the Mafia. The reality series features familiar names and faces, but Gravano promises the show is vastly different from VH1’s Mob Wives

Karen Gravano from MTV's 'Families of the Mafia'
Karen Gravano | MTV

‘Mob Wives’ ran for 6 seasons on VH1

Before moving to MTV, Gravano starred alongside Renee Graziano, Drita D’Avanzo, Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, Carla Facciolo, Marissa Fiore, and Brittany Fogarty in Mob Wives. The show aired on VH1 from April 2011 until March 2016.

Mob Wives was the first of its kind, where we were actually saying the word out loud,” Gravano reveals to Allison Kugel on her podcast Allison Interviews. She admits much of Mob Wives focused on her father’s life and who he was — something Gravano is trying to detach herself from with Families of the Mafia

Karen Gravano says ‘Families of the Mafia’ goes a ‘totally different direction’

When MTV first announced Families of the Mafia, Spyglass Media Group had something to say about it. The company, which acquired the Weinstein Company and subsequently the VH1 series Mob Wives, sent a cease-and-desist to MTV after the network released the new reality series. 

At that time, Gravano pointed out how Mob Wives focused on women. Meanwhile, “[‘Families of the Mafia’] focuses on the parents raising their kids,” Gravano told Page Six. Gravano reiterates the difference between the shows in her conversation with Kugel. “Families of The Mafia is a totally different direction,” she says. “We’re digging deep into these different families, and it’s a multigenerational story.” 

Allison Interviews Podcast
Allison Kugel | Allison Interviews

Sammy “The Bull” tells his story in Familes of the Mafia, whereas before the Mob Wives were only rehashing rumors about Sammy’s dealings. “His experiences have created some of [the] situations in my own life, and I tell my [side of the] story,” adds Gravano. 

The word “Mafia” might be tied to the show. But for Gravano, Families of the Mafia is about family struggles as well as raising her child to be better and not make the same mistakes. Overall, Gravano believes Families of the Mafia is “a lot more relatable” than Mob Wives ever was. 

Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano thinks ‘Mob Wives’ was ‘petty’ 

While Sammy “The Bull” appears in Families of the Mafia, he’s not the subject of the reality series. If anything, Gravano’s main focus is detaching herself from her father’s life and the previous crimes was charged with. In the early 2000s, Gravano was tied to an ecstasy drug ring in Arizona — another thing she hopes to detach herself from.

As Gravano shares during her conversation with Kugel, her father isn’t a fan of the VH1 show. “I don’t think my father liked a lot of the arguing and the fighting on Mob Wives,” Gravano mentions. “To him, it was petty.” 

RELATED: ‘Families of the Mafia’: Season 2, Episode 1 ‘Reflections’ Addresses Billy O’Toole’s Death

She remembers her father saying: “You coming back to New York is such a bigger presence than you having to argue or fight with women on a show.” Gravano admits she got caught up in the drama of reality TV when it came to Mob Wives.

“All the arguing and bickering on [Mob Wives] was not really who I was as a person,” Gravano adds. “Our [family’s] life was just different than that…more family-oriented.” That sense of family is captured in Gravano’s latest MTV project, Families of the Mafia. Tune in to new episodes Thursdays at 9 PM EST.