‘Mob Wives’ Creator Talks Honoring Big Ang in ‘Bittersweet’ Series Finale

“I think when we started this we all shared a similar vision. That we would be women empowering women,” Jennifer Graziano tells TheWrap

VH1 aired an hour-long tribute to late “Mob Wives” star Big Ang on Wednesday night, but just before that, the fan favorite also received a touching tribute in the final moments of the reality show’s series finale.

“Over the years, I stayed out of the drama because this is the type of the person I am,” Big Ang says in the show’s last few minutes. “I’ve loved the time I’ve shared together with the girls. I love each and every one of them in a special way. I’m still Big Ang and everybody still loves me.”

Series creator Jennifer Graziano told TheWrap that she could think of no better way to end “Mob Wives” than with voice-over from the star who was universally beloved by fans, cast and crew.

But the show’s final shot — a recreation of the opening shot from Season 1, this time with Drita standing alone, apart from the other women — was a more somber reflection of where the rest of the cast ended up, unable to resolve their differences.

“It’s very sad to me, because I think when we started this we all shared a similar vision. That we would be women empowering women, and we were all going to get rich together and show the world our journey, let them know what we’ve been dealing with our whole lives,” Graziano said. “My goal at least, was to band together and build something great. But sometimes it’s hard to work with friends and family.”

Read TheWrap’s full interview with Graziano below:

TheWrap: How has the cast and crew been coping with the loss of Big Ang?
Graziano: Everybody’s very sad. Ang became more than just a cast member to the crew. And obviously to myself, I knew her way before the show. But specifically to the crew, she was always like a caretaker. Everyone always looked forward to shoots at her house because they knew they were going to get a five-course meal. She became particularly close with our showrunner Adam, so he’s very upset, I’m very upset. So it’s sad. It’s still surreal.

How did you come to the decision to end the show with her and her voice-over?
To me, there was no better way to end the show than with her. Considering everything that was going on around her, she was always upbeat. She did her best to keep everyone drama-free. Obviously that was a tough job, but I can tell you when she was around it was always a lot less than it could’ve been. Everyone was always respectful of her as a friend. They respected that she didn’t want that in her life. Knowing what we know now, it’s a bittersweet moment, but I can’t think of a better way for it to have ended.

Did you have to go back and make any changes to the show?
No, Ang was an open book. She wanted us to capture her journey. She wanted us to show that because she knew there would be a tremendous number of families that could relate to it.

Were you satisfied with the way the rest of the show wrapped up?
I think in a way, we came full circle. Especially Renee, who started out as this huge mob enthusiast, but unfortunately she went through so many ups and downs as a result of the lifestyle that she finally kicked the habit, so to speak. She’s finally saying, “I’m my own person. I no longer have to live by this identity. I’m doing things for myself. I don’t have to depend on a man.” I think in a way, we gave a full circle look at their journeys.

Was it helpful to go in knowing this would be the last season?
Not necessarily. Yes and no. We were always going to capture what was going on, we weren’t going to push it one way or another. But I think the girls knowing it was the last season, it might’ve helped them to figure out what they wanted to show in their lives.

Were you expecting things between Brittany and Marissa to play out the way it did when you cast them? They ended up being pretty central to the drama between the returning cast members.
My anticipation was that they were going to be kind of like Mob Wives in training. That they would get along as the younger two of the crew. I thought that they would kind of be the next cohort. I don’t think I was expecting it to go the way it did. They had a lot in common in terms of modeling, they were closer in age. I actually thought that they would click.

What was the thought process behind having the final shot recreating the opening of Season 1?
Well, like I said, in a way we came full circle. And relationship-wise, that’s where the women ended up. Ultimately they all were able to put their differences aside except for with Drita. We tried to capture whatever was real, and that’s really where the women landed. But we tried to end it where we started with the visual, showing where the separation lies.

Were you sad to see they couldn’t work it out?
Yeah, I’m sad for a lot of things. A lot went on both on and off camera. Even I lost a couple friends along the way. So it’s very sad to me, because I think when we started this we all shared a similar vision. That we would be women empowering women, and we were all going to get rich together and show the world our journey, let them know what we’ve been dealing with our whole lives. My goal at least, was to band together and build something great. But sometimes it’s hard to work with friends and family. Sometimes the dynamics of the group kick in and some people don’t get along and don’t want to be a part of it any longer. It’s definitely sad.

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