Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice and her husband Joe pled guilty to federal fraud charges for concealing income and lying during bankruptcy proceedings. They join Mob Wives newcomer, Alicia DiMichele Garofalo, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to embezzling charges.
After learning about the Guidice's plea, my sister, Josephine, called and said, "We need to boycott these shows because all we're doing is condoning bad behavior."
She's absolutely right.
For years, I watched Teresa Giudice build her empire with bestselling cookbooks (even though she uses the word, "ingredientes"), Italian specialty food lines, Miliana hair care products, Fabellini sparkling wines and appearances on Celebrity Apprentice while she went about her nefarious ways from her sprawling New Jersey mansion.
Growing up on Staten Island, I learned early on that being Italian was often considered synonymous with the mafia even though my father worked two jobs to help put me through college, then medical school (incidentally, I still have a student loan). Although my family, like many Italians, are hardworking, honest people, we have, at one time or another, fallen under the spell of the Italian gangster often glamorized in movies. In grammar school, I proudly bragged to my schoolmates that I lived across the street from the house where they filmed, The Godfather. So it's really no surprise that I watch reality television that depicts Italians as unscrupulous, bigoted and ignorant. In reality, The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Mob Wives perpetuate the stereotype that Italians are overly tanned, spaghetti-eating people who use an exorbitant amount of hair care products while lying, cheating and stealing in order to achieve the American dream.
As my sister suggested, it is up to us to make the choice: Do we stand by and silently allow these caricatures to defame us for our pleasure or do we simply turn them off?
We have to make that decision because Bravo and VH1 are never going to fire these criminals because they're sure to generate ratings, particularly as they parade their children around in order to gain our sympathy. And don't think for one minute there is a lesson to be learned in all of this because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Remember, wasn't is Gia Giudice> who tweeted the word f*ggot last month just two years after her father was confronted by Andy Cohen for using a gay slur on the show?
In a statement read by her lawyer, Teresa said, "I am heartbroken that this is affecting my family -- especially my four young daughters, who mean more to me than anything in the world."
A word of advice Teresa: If you're really worried about your daughters, quit the show and focus on your family.