You 'Gotti' be kidding
'Growing Up' grows very dull very fast, despite its star
(1/2 star out of 4)
Victoria Gotti, daughter of the late John Gotti, starts her unscripted reality TV series, "Growing Up Gotti," by complaining about being prejudged.
"People make a lot of stupid assumptions about me when they hear my last name," Gotti says. "Like I run the mob, or that I'm connected. The truth is, the only mob I run is the one I have at home."
She's referring to her three grown (or rapidly growing) sons, Carmine, John and Frank.
Later in the premiere of "Growing Up Gotti," which A&E unveils tonight at 9:30 (a second half-hour episode, not available for preview, follows immediately), Victoria considers putting her house up for sale, and opens her 6-acre estate to real estate agent Mona Gold.
Much to Victoria's surprise, she and Mona bond. They even compare, or at least discuss the origins of, their substantial busts.
"Never prejudge, right?" Mona says to Victoria before she drives away.
Right. We get it. Don't prejudge.
But as a TV critic, I have every right — in fact, a duty — to postjudge. And after seeing "Growing Up Gotti," I have to say this new A&E series is one of the worst ideas for a reality show I've seen all year.
This series isn't so much tasteless as pointless.
While claiming to distance herself from a "Sopranos"-type mob image, Victoria, in "Growing Up Gotti," never really lets it go.
One of the big activities in the premiere has the recently divorced Victoria venturing back into the dating world, but the adjustment is eased when her editor at Star magazine persuades her to go to a celebrity matchmaking service. (Hey, why didn't I think of that?)
The date quickly goes awry, and she challenges him at dinner by asking such sarcastic questions as "You don't think I look like a hit woman?" and offering such warm advice as "You say things before you think — stupid things."
The date between brassy blond Victoria and aging, balding Ed — which would have been fodder for a terrific celebrity episode of "Blind Date" — ends prematurely and awkwardly.
As she dismisses her car to take Ed home, she kids with the driver by offering $1,000 to "take him to a ditch somewhere."
I really hope she was kidding.
Otherwise, on further reflection, I think I like this show a lot more than it may sound like so far.
One insurmountable liability in the premiere is that almost nothing happens.
There probably isn't a person in America who doesn't feel his or her life would be fertile ground for a reality show, if not a sitcom or grand drama — but most of them are wrong.
The three sons, based on what's captured on camera, are impolite, insensitive and sloppy. In other words, they're like almost every other young man at their respective ages. And while Victoria Gotti is far from the average wife and mother, what she does on camera is decidedly, disappointingly average.
When Mona, the realtor enters the home, she immediately notes a picture of John Gotti on a front table.
"He put the 'd' in 'dapper,'" Mona tells Victoria approvingly.
Yeah, and he also put the "d" in "mob Don."
Here, though, daughter Victoria, with "Growing Up Gotti," seems content to put the "d" in "dull."