A&E has the potential for a sleeper hit with its new reality TV show “Growing Up Gotti,” but they clearly muffed the title. “Mommy as Monster” is closer to the target.
Like so much of vintage reality TV, the major pleasure of “Gotti” comes in imagining what the producers did off-camera to make their subjects look like fools on-camera. The twist here: Victoria Gotti is one of the show’s producers and her three teenage sons are the subjects. Imagine the Medea-like possibilities!
Victoria Gotti is, of course, the best-selling author (“The Senator’s Daughter”), Star columnist and daughter of the late mobster John “Dapper Don” Gotti. Her former life and current appearance are so tacky in their life-affirming exuberance that even the format cliches of reality TV never threaten to dominate this woman. Then again, she is the producer.
But why Vicki G? Why now?
This is always the major dilemma. Rocco opened his restaurant, Jonathan his hair salon. Victoria Gotti is selling her McMansion in Connecticut. The house is very 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in front, with a real Versailles thing going on in the back yard. The pool is right out of “Sunset Boulevard” and needs cleaning. So does the carpet in a guest house.
To pump up the action, Victoria has decided to re-enter date world after her divorce from Carmine Agnello, a scrap-metal businessman who in 2001 pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. The kids are horrified, not at Dad’s imprisonment but rather Mom’s dating. She has no choice. There are bills to be paid and, matchmaker in tow, Star magazine has assigned her to write up the blind dates.
As to be expected, Victoria’s first date is straight from Dante’s ninth circle. Never having read “The Godfather,” the Bald Guy calls the Don’s Daughter “spoiled,” and Victoria walks out of the restaurant in a huff. The question is, would Roger Lodge have let her ride the stretch limo home alone?!
As for those aforementioned Gotti Agnello boys (Carmine, John, Frank), it is clear that the current hair-gel epidemic among young men continues unabated. But that’s the least of the crime: Like so many boobousie of the tube, they mistake air-time for fame, loudness for charm, logorrhea for wit. Upcoming entertainment includes birthday tantrums and overnight brawls in Miami. It’s obvious these boys need a mother to protect them from their producer. And they say Victoria Gotti’s dad was a bad guy.