Judge Not, Lest Ye End Up on Reality TV, Too
Welcome to GUG, everybody. Let the merriment commence. Woo. Hoo.
Before we get started here, there are a few things I want to say. First of all, the Gotti family decided to make an exhibition of themselves on reality television. Therefore, they are fair game. If you believe it will bother you to read criticism of them, please do yourself a favor and stop reading...now. Secondly, I will be making mob references where and when I so desire, and I have no scruples about doing so. This show was pimped on the infamy of the Gotti family, and Victoria brings it up herself almost constantly. If this is going to bother you, then you can stop reading…now. And please remember, if you send me death threats, you are just proving my point, people. Finally, this show is quite boring. If you’re expecting this recap to provide all the excitement you missed…well, *sigh* you can stop reading…now.
By the way, if you want to know more about John Gotti, here’s a colorful history: http://www.carpenoctem.tv/mafia/gotti.html I take no responsibility for the veracity of this account. I can’t spend all day on Google, people. I have a crappy recap to write.
Meet the Gottis
The premier of GUG begins with shots of Victoria Gotti (hereafter referred to as “Vic,” because I’m lazy) at home and at work and in her convertible, while we hear her voiceover, complaining about the assumptions people make because of her name. (There are a lot of Vic voiceovers, and I plan to ignore them except when I’m going to make fun of them.) I immediately make some of my own assumptions, but they have nothing to do with her name—I’m assuming that many of her body parts are not the ones she was born with. Vic gripes that people think she runs the mob (not likely) and that she’s “connected” (more likely). But the only mob she runs is the one at home. And we get our first glimpse of the pillared Gotti mansion. Yes, this will be a real slice of life, right out of the suburbs. You get the feeling that the Gottis could be your next door neighbors, don’t you?
I will now briefly comment on the opening credits, just because this is the premiere. The theme song is a cover of “These Boots were Made for Walking,” sung by someone claiming to be “Lil’ Kim Gotti.” Wow. There’s a chapter of mafia history I missed. Have any of you seen "Jammin’ in Jamaica," the animated movie that comes free with the purchase of the My Scene Jammin’ in Jamaica Barbie Doll ™? Of course you haven’t. But I have, and I think the animated credits for GUG were created by the same artist. The cartoon Vic looks a lot more like Barbie than she looks like the real-life Vic. A lot more. (The cartoon of Vic’s oldest son Carmine is shown greasing his cartoon hair, which is funny to me. I wonder if they know they are being mocked? Or does Carmine just spend so much time slathering lard through his hair that there are no other conceivable hobbies to display in the credits? Hmm. Somehow, it’s not as funny now.)
The cartoon portion ends, and we get more shots of the mansion, outside and inside, with another narration by Vic. She says her house is haunted (creepy, Godfather-style music plays in the background); this haunted atmosphere hangs over all six acres of this property, including the gazebo. (The camera lingers on the Grecian temple-style pool house and marble floors. Did I mention that Vic is going to list her house for sale in this episode? I’m thinking she might still be waiting for that sale.) But the house is only haunted by the ghost of her marriage, and she thinks it’s time for a change.
Save Your Bombs for the Dinner Table, Part I
At dinner with the boys, Carmine, John, and Frankie (to be known from this point on as “Snot-nosed Punk #1, #2 and #3”), Vic announces her intention to put the mansion on the market. The Snot-nosed Punks are displeased, #2 most vocally. The SNPs are also confused that Vic only wants to move down the street. “You want to live somewhere else?” Vic demands. No, Vic, I think that’s exactly their point.
Now to the first mini-commercial of the episode: we are introduced to Mona Gold, the “hottest real estate agent on the north coast.” The carefully preserved Mona tells us her motto and then heads off to the mansion. Vic answers the door in an abominable snowman costume (on the plus side, if there’s a spill, I’ll bet that thing is very absorbent). Mona compliments the portrait of John Gotti that is on the hall table: “He put the D in Dapper.” Since Gotti’s nickname was “The Dapper Don,” I think this is a little tasteless, but Vic is pleased.
Are You in the Market for a New Home?
Vic leads Mona on a thorough tour of the house, and I get the feeling again that this place may still be for sale. She pauses once to chew out one of the SNPs for blaring his music. In the palatial bathroom, the camera focuses on the basket of reading material beside the commode; on the very top is the New York Post from the day John Gotti died. Please tell me this was set up by the production staff. Please tell me Vic doesn’t like to read about her father’s demise while she does her business. Mona makes a lot of worthless realty observations like, “It’s very feminine, but it’s not.”
Outside we get a shot of the “incredible” (Mona’s word) pool, empty but for the stagnant brown swamp in the deep end, breeding West Nile Virus bearing mosquitoes. A few white chairs bob sadly in the muck.
Another feature of the Gotti domicile: 42 surveillance cameras. No wonder these people seem so comfortable being filmed.
The never-ending tour continues through the guest house, which has never been cleaned since a party the SNPs threw months ago—empty plastic cups, doors left wide open, sticky puddles of spilled beer... The empty keg is still there. Vic barely shrugs, and in my head I’m hearing what my dad’s reaction would have been. My head starts to pound, but I’m not sure if it’s from the imaginary shouting, or from the fact that this tour is still not over.
Mona finally leaves, after she and Vic compliment each other’s boobs and both insist they are 100% natural. They don’t believe each other, and neither does anyone else in the universe.
It’s Practically Philanthropy
Now Vic heads into work at Star magazine, where she writes a celebrity gossip column. On the walls are framed covers from classic editions: “Who’s pregnant?” “Who’s got cellulite?” “Who’s a crack whore?” Vic says that the Star’s not going to win any Pulitzers, but they write the stuff people really care about. How sad for people.
The commercial for Star continues with a board meeting, where we’re introduced to Vic’s boss, Joe. He’s discussing possible covers (“It’s been a while since we did a ‘who got skinny’ story”). One woman at the meeting gets her face blurred out, and I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking: Witness Protection Program.
Books By Their Covers…
Kelli is Vic’s partner, and she pitches a story idea—investigating celebrity matchmaking with Vic as the guinea pig. They must have gotten the green light, because the next thing we know, we’re watching another commercial, this time for Denise Winston, Matchmaker to the Stars. Denise quizzes Vic on her likes and dislikes (Vic brings up the Gotti name factor again, just thought I’d point that out) and then pulls out a candidate. There is no picture attached. Vic says she doesn’t care about looks (remember that), but that she’d like to see a picture. She then starts describing the kind of hair she likes, brunette or salt and pepper, when Denise interrupts to tell her the man in question is bald.
She may as well have said, “I’m fixing you up with Hitler’s corpse.” Vic is revolted. In the elevator down to the exit, Vic and Kelli rationalize Vic’s position. Vic comments that bald men only have wives because they got married when they had hair and the poor lady stuck by them. And this is the woman that hates being judged? I’m fantasizing about Ed Harris now, and enjoying that much more than the show. Go ahead and leave the bald boys for the rest of us, Vic. Ed Harris…*drooling on my keyboard*
Dinner Bombs, Part II
Back at the mansion, Vic prepares to announce that she’s going to start dating again. She invites her little brother Peter to dinner for support.
Peter likes to give speeches about respect. Peter is apparently auditioning for a role in The Godfather IV. The boys are fighting, and Pete finds this “uncouth.” “That’s not where we came from, and that’s not what we’re about,” he reminds them. Yes, Pete. Because non-violence has always been the Gotti family motto, right?
Vic announces her plans to go on two dates. Pete is instantly supportive[/sarcasm]: “Two dates too many!” The youngest punk, Frankie, is the most upset. He asks his mom if he can move in with his father—after he is released (from prison), he adds as an afterthought—so he doesn’t have to see her dating. The other males back up the fuming Frankie, until the fourteen year old announces his intention to go on a date, too—with “the biggest slut in New York City.” Pete makes another speech: “Respect and class—conduct yourself with it.” Vic stands up for herself, announcing that she isn’t asking for permission, and leaves the room.
Vic agrees to date the hideously disfigured bald man. The matchmaker to the stars is proud of her.
The Shortest Episode of Blind Date Ever
Date night arrives. Vic yells at the boys, telling them that they have to greet “the old guy.” We get a shot of the upper half of the old guy’s cranium as his limo pulls onto the estate. It’s amazing the humiliation people will endure, as long as that humiliation gets them on TV. More sad commentary on our times.
(Frankie is strangely involved with a Kleenex tissue for length of the “meet the family” scene. It’s distracting, and disturbing.) The boys go out to the limo to take a peek at the geezer, refusing to shake his hand and making loud comments about “blind, deaf and crippled” dates. Inside, Vic introduces her date to these painfully rude children. Baldy looks frightened. His name is Ed, but he is no Ed Harris. Picture Montgomery Burns with Ned Flander’s bushy mustache. Regardless, after that welcome, my sympathies are firmly on his side.
Until we get to the restaurant, where Baldy reveals that he is an idiot. First, he implies that Vic is spoiled. Then he admits he had preconceptions about her because of her last name (“Do you think I go out and kill people for a living?” Vic demands). And finally, incomprehensibly, he compliments Vic by calling her “attractive, with the potential to be strikingly attractive.” When Vic asks for an explanation, Baldy calmly tells her that she flaunts her attributes, and should go with a softer look. (Vic’s voice over tells us that Baldy is diggin’ his grave deeper and deeper—and it sounds like she might be speaking literally.)
Right here. This is the exact point at which I grudgingly begin to like Victoria Gotti. Because, wuss that I am, I would have thought mean thoughts, politely made excuses to leave early, and then never returned the jerk’s phone calls. Vic calls him arrogant to his face, noting that he says stupid things without thinking, says that it’s no mystery why he’s single, and then she stands up and walks out. I am forced to mutter, “Go girl,” and envy her cajones. (So ends the matchmaker-to-the-stars’ career—and Baldy’s love life).
Vic chats in a friendly way with the limo driver when he drops her at the mansion. She offers him a thousand dollars to roll Baldy into a ditch. It is left to our discretion to decide whether this is a serious offer. Vic adds a Jerry Springer moment of introspection, and…we…are…done!
Sleeping With The Fishes Sounds Better All the Time
You didn’t think I was going to let you off that easily did you? Har har. This is a double episode premiere, and thus this shall be a double episode recap. At least we get to skip all the introductory crap and dive right in…to the slimey, murky deep end of the Gotti pool.
Vic starts the show in her bathrobe, telling us about her house full of love—everyone who comes there feels the love. Like Baldy felt the love. As she speaks, we get a montage of fight scenes between the brothers. I’m feelin’ it.
I also feel the need to comment on the lameness of Vic’s voiceovers. They are lame.
The Definition of “Divorce”
Vic comes home from work Friday evening, expecting a hectic weekend. Friday is Frankie’s (14th?) birthday, Saturday is Carmine’s prom night, and Sunday is Mother’s Day. Flowers are waiting for Vic when she gets home. She thinks they are from her brother Pete. I think they are from Ed. They are actually from her ex-husband, who somehow sends things from prison. “Divorce doesn’t mean divorce anymore,” Vic grumbles. We see why “Daddy” sent these roses when Vic goes outside to “walk it off.” Because Daddy has sent something else from his cell—some kind of camouflage-painted vehicle that Vic calls an “ATV—a death sentence on wheels.” I don’t think it’s technically an ATV, but I’m not about to question her verdict. This woman knows her death sentences.
Screaming ensues as Vic vetoes the gift. Frankie has a thunderous yell, and he yells every word. Eventually it becomes a quibble over where he can drive it. He promises to stay on the property, and she gives him the keys. Editing would have us believe that he breaks his promise immediately, with a snide smirk.
Inside, Vic bemoans the power play. “Daddy becomes the hero, and I become the monster.” I feel sympathy for her, because this is indeed the case, and that would really suck to have to deal with. But then she goes on to ask where Daddy was when tuition was due? When food goes on the table? As she waves her hand sporting a ten carat diamond dismissively toward the giant marbled kitchen, my sympathy fades.
The Other Mario Brother
Ah, now enters my favorite character, the pool fixin’ Luigi. This guy’s Italian accent is so strong they include English subtitles. Vic tells him not to milk her, and Luigi is pierced to the heart that she would think that of an honest business man.
The older punk brothers (Frankie is still carousing in his death sentence) take Luigi out to the pool. His thick Italian pronouncements (“This looks like a toilet bowl in here!”) provide the most entertainment I’ve gotten from this show. Luigi immediately announces it will cost upwards of $13,000 to restore the pool. John (SNP #2) agrees to that easily.
John is not so easy going when Luigi wants him to climb into the pool and help out. He is horrified at the thought of defiling his new sneakers. Luigi calls him a lazy boy, and I breathe an “amen” to that.
On the Road Again
Vic catches Frankie on the prohibited road. She doesn’t take away the gift as promised. She gives him an unimpressive “one more time,” threat, and I have an inkling why her kids are such rotten brats.
Frankie pretends to run her over as she walks away.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
We return to the cesspool, where the Gotti boys are playing catch as Luigi struggles to pull the chairs out of the mire. The ball falls in the sludge, and no one wants to touch it. The boys mock Luigi as he tries to kick it out. Luigi mutters to himself and the price goes up to $15,000. John agrees again.
Vic does not agree when Luigi presents her with the estimate. “Would you give that to my brother John?” she demands. Luigi pauses too long, and the game is up. Vic explains that she just wants the bare essentials taken care of, and works the price down to $3,500. Not bad. But I imagine being a Gotti counts for a lot in negotiations.
Vic and Luigi then celebrate the time honored stereotypes of male-female interpersonal communication with the “Do you think I’m fat?” argument. In my opinion Luigi wins. He claims he can tell even a two pound difference because he measures cement, and that’s one I’ve never heard before.
Pretty in Punk
It’s prom night, and Carmine is greasing his hair. Okay, now my stomach was already uneasy due to a migraine (remember the headache I mentioned in episode one? GUG isn’t making it better), but as Carmine squishes his ick-covered fingers through his Vaseline-sculpted hair, it seriously makes me nauseated. Nasty. *shuddering*
Now here’s the problem. Carmine doesn’t want to go to the actual prom. Carmine wants to go to the two-day after party in the Hamptons (I know I’ve already made one Simpsons reference, but I have to quote Moe here: “La-tee-frickin’-da!”). Vic says no, which I support. But her reasoning befuddles me. She doesn’t care so much about the two days of partying. She cares that he is trampling on the face of tradition by not celebrating the occasion of prom.
Uncle Pete is called. Though Carmine’s rapid-fire yelling is incomprehensible to me, Vic is upset that Carmine can communicate with his uncle but not her. She decides that until he’s talking to mom, he’s not going anywhere.
Now Vic spirals into remorse. She is telling the story to two random friends who are never allowed to speak, and you can see she’s close to cracking. “It’s times like this I wish my father was alive,” she says. “Nobody gave him any lip.” Yes, she really did say that. She goes on to mourn the absence of a father figure. The fear, she sighs wistfully. The intimidation. A mother just can’t reach out the way a father can—reach out and pull the hair out of their heads! Yes, she really said that, too. And I’m thinking no one could get a good enough grip on those greasy heads to do any damage. Ah ha! Have we discovered the motive behind the madness?
Vic goes up to see Carmine, and he is so rude that her resolve is strengthened. She sticks to her guns. Like the celebrity matchmaker, I am proud. Carmine stays home.
Taking Credit For Something You Didn’t Do Only Works When You’re Not Being Filmed For A TV Show
Sunday morning: Mother’s Day. Vic is sleeping in. Daddy has sent (from the big house) a huge breakfast for Vic and his boys. Frankie takes the caterer inside to set up. Vic comes downstairs, and gets teary when the boys chorus “Happy Mother’s Day” around the loaded table. The boys claim responsibility, and Vic is deeply touched. She just knows that Frankie, the big-hearted one, is behind this. Well, Vic, I have to wonder how you feel now. See the cameras, boys? That little red flashing light means you’re going to get caught.
Vic is so misty that she takes an alone moment (with the camera crew) to talk about this wonderful gift. The best Mother’s Day gift is not having to cook breakfast (I concur) and for once not having any fighting…
In the dining room, the boys begin fighting. Because Carmine (18 years old), has not gotten his mother anything for Mother’s Day—for the forth year in a row according to Frankie. The fight becomes physical, and Vic ends up chasing them up the stairs, screaming as she goes. Frankie tries to kick his brother’s door in. All in all, a charming, heartwarming moment.
The End…This Time I Mean It
anybody want a peanut?
For the final scene of the evening (YES! YES! YES! *pumping fist in the air*), Vic has Frankie take her for a ride in the death trap. Actually, it’s sort of sweet. And I have to admit, after surviving this double episode, I find that I like Vic a lot more than I expected to. The sons, not so much. The show, not so much. But Vic is okay. Go figure.
As the credits roll, the boys have a screaming fight over an empty tube of hair gel. Kind of sums up the whole show, doesn’t it?
In closing, I leave you with the immortal words of Al Capone: “You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone.”
Go ahead and send me your death threats—if you kill me, I don’t have to watch this show again: firstname.lastname@example.org