The untold truth of sMothered

While there's nothing like a mother's love, is it possible for a mom to love her kid too much? That's a question that sMothered hopes to answer. The TLC show centers on four pairs of mothers and daughters. Cher and her mother, Dawn, are 32 years apart but act like twins. Sunhe and her daughter Angelica are 20 years apart, and often share a bed. Kathy and Cristina, who are 26 years apart, are so close that Kathy acts as a co-parent to Cristina's children. Sandra is 24 years older than her daughter, Mariah, but the two are best friends and do everything together. 

A strong relationship between a mother and daughter is something many women hope to have, but the ladies of sMothered are taking it to the next level. Whether you think that there's such a thing as being too close to your mom, or you think that these relationships are totally normal, here's a closer look at the moms and daughters of sMothered.

Why do they even want to tell the world they're sMothered?

How does someone go about getting their own loving mother-daughter relationship featured on sMothered? TLC has an open casting call on their website looking for "extremely close and over the top moms and daughters." The show wants mothers and daughters who "take the traditional mom and daughter relationship to new heights." Considering how much judgement comes with putting your relationship up for scrutiny, you might wonder why someone would want to subject themselves to such an experience. 

Sandra explained that her reason for wanting to appear on sMothered was so that she could show off her strong bond with her daughter who she is incredibly proud of. "I just thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to share the most amazing experience in my life and the biggest accomplishment ever," the mom told Hollywood Life. "Besides careers and all of that, my biggest accomplishment is my daughter."

Dating can be tricky when you're sMothered

When you and your mom are super close, dating can be tricky. Not only do you have the normal challenges of finding a compatible partner, but you've also got to make sure that your new special someone knows that they're not going to have all of your attention. "I've had guys that I tried to date tell me that our bond seemed too strong for there to be room for anyone else,"  Sandra, who is divorced from Mariah's dad, told the New York Post. "So I would dismiss them." 

Her daughter has had similar experiences with men saying they don't want to date her mom, too. Mariah's response? "I'm like, 'You're not, but I'm still in constant contact with her. So you can get lost.'"

They aren't the only mother-daughter pair to put their bond before their relationships. "We always have an agreement," Sunhe said in her own New York Post interview. "If Angelica didn't like my dating partner, and vice versa with her, we generally did not stay in that relationship."

Why does Cher look so familiar?

Viewers of sMothered may find themselves wondering why one of the cast members looks so familiar. It turns out that sMothered isn't Cher's first foray into reality television. In her teenage years, Cher was featured on MTV's My Super Sweet 16 in the show's fourth season. Even back then, Cher and her mom were pretty tight. "She's... like my best friend," Cher said on the show. "We do pretty much everything together."

Cher explained that since she and her mom are so tight, her mom was helping her plan her elaborate 16th birthday party, which turned out to be a lavish Mardis Gras masquerade celebration. "You are my little princess," said Dawn. 

After her 2007 appearance on My Super Sweet 16, Cher appeared on a spin-off, Exiled, where she was sent to the jungles of Panama so that she could learn to be independent. Her stint on the show inspired her to study nursing at the University of Florida.

Kathy's other daughter isn't sMothered, and feels left out

The bond between mother and daughter is a beautiful thing, but being sMothered can lead to uncomfortable family dynamics. Such a tight relationship is one thing between a mother and an only child, but when there's more than one kid in the family, it's natural that the other kids might feel neglected. Kathy has two daughters, Carly and Cristina, but her closest relationship is with Cristina who is the focus of most of her "smothering."

"My sister is very obsessed with my mom, and my mom is very obsessed with my sister," Carly said in a sneak peak for the show. In the clip, Carly also tells her mom that some of her antics are "crazy." She might not fully approve, but in the show's first episode (via the Chicago Tribune) the younger daughter admitted that she sometimes feels a little left out of the special bond her sister and her mother have. While she isn't part of an official sMothered duo, she does say that she's gotten more than her fair of smothering, telling the Chicago Tribune, "I live with my mom, so no one is more smothered than me by my mother."

Happily sMothered, Cher and Dawn share clothes

The mothers and daughters featured on the show don't just get along as mother and daughter, but often seem to have more of a sibling relationship. It's a different kind of camaraderie that goes far beyond what we typically think of as the bonds of a standard mother and daughter relationship. The moms on sMothered act more like their daughters' sisters or friends, and sometimes it's hard to remember that they're decades apart. 

Cher and Dawn not-so-jokingly refer to themselves as twins, and Cher is the spitting image of her mom. To add to the twinning effect, they even dress alike. While they don't live near each other, they're in frequent contact and consult each other on their outfits over FaceTime. They clearly have similar taste in clothing, and even swap outfits. "Whenever I go to Florida, I can raid her closet," Cher told the New York Post. "When she comes to New York, she doesn't need to pack much — she raids mine."

Mariah and Sandra don't have many other friends

Who needs a girl group when you have a built-in best friend? While there's nothing wrong with having a close friendship with your mom, most people who are close to their moms have other friends, too. Mariah and Sandra, however, don't have many other friendships, spending most of their time with each other. They claim that they don't really need anybody else in their lives. "We don't have many friends," Mariah told Hollywood Life. "This is our unit."

Sandra said that they prefer to keep their "home space" exclusive to them. "We don't really miss anybody." Many people might think that this is an isolating way to live, but Mariah and Sandra seem to be satisfied being best friends with each other and not letting other people in. "We just get each other so we just stick with each other," said Mariah. 

Thanks to Dawn's sMothering, Cher's husband feels like a third wheel

Being in a sMothered style relationship can be hard on your loved ones, especially your significant other. Cher's husband, Jared, admitted that he often feels like a third wheel because his wife and his mother-in-law take up so much of each other's time. The couple met in their freshman year at the University of Florida and have been married since 2013, so Jared has had a bit of time to get used to the unique bond his wife has with her mom. 

Cher might be close to her mom, but that doesn't mean that her husband is completely shifted to the side. The Florida native moved to New York for Jared when he began a plastic surgery residency. She also kept a major secret from her mom: her pregnancy. Cher told her husband she was expecting before she told her mom. "I had to keep a big secret from my mom for a while," she told TooFab. "That's between my husband and I, for sure. My mom and I are super close, but this was my husband's baby."

Sunhe took her sMothering across state lines, following Angelica to college

While some of the mothers and daughters on sMothered are capable of living apart and are happy to keep in touch through frequent texts and video calls, others need to be as close as possible to each other. Sunhe and Angelica are particularly close to each other and need as much mother and daughter bonding time as they can get. For many young people, going off to college is a rite of passage — a time to test the waters and be independent for the first time. But Sunhe couldn't bear to let her daughter leave the nest.

Angelica moved to Virginia for college and, while Sunhe didn't exactly move into her dorm, she did relocate to Georgia in order to be closer to her precious daughter. She then drove six hours every two weeks to see Angelica. "I have always uprooted for Angelica," she told the New York Post

Was the portrayal of this scene in sMothered racially insensitive?

One of the scenes in sMothered that was held up as proof of how extreme these mother and daughter relationships are is one where Sunhe and Angelica talk about sharing bath water. A bathtub scene is shared prominently in the show's sneak peak, and a press release about the show also comments on it. What TLC left out, though, is that this is actually one of the least extreme mother-daughter moments that sMothered stars share. 

"We don't just jump in the bath all dirty, filthy," Angelica told TooFab. "We take a shower somewhere else [and] clean off." By the time they take a bath, they are already clean. Sunhe added that this practice is common in Korean and Japanese culture, and that the critics who are slamming them are "sick." The mother and daughter have even been accused of incest for taking part in this cultural practice, which Sunhe pointed out is no different than getting into a public hot tub or swimming pool.

Mariah doesn't feel sMothered -- she was raised to be her mom's BFF

Some strong mother-daughter bonds may come about over time. Others are deliberately nurtured. One of the reasons that Sandra and Mariah are so close is that Sandra raised her daughter to be her BFF. Sandra definitely got her wish, because she and her daughter are closer than many best friends, let alone typical mothers and daughters. "We make each other laugh," Mariah told Hollywood Life. "I'd rather talk to her than anybody else in the world. She's hilarious. With anything! With any job issues, with any legal matter — anything. She raised her best friend. She raised me to be this way so that's all I'll ever know. I'm happy about it, but that's all it is."

The pair talk about even the most intimate issues. Mariah revealed that she even called her mom after her first sexual encounter. Sandra said that the two have been close since Mariah "was in the womb."

What do the moms and daughters of sMothered really think of the other stars of the show?

The show focuses on each mother and daughter pair separately as they go about their daily lives. The four pairs aren't brought together for filming, so they don't actually spend time together. Everything the moms and daughters know about the other pairs featured on the show is gathered from watching the show and interviews. How do the other moms and daughters feel about the other stars of the show? Well, they're pretty tight lipped, but it's clear that they've already formed opinions about their co-stars. "Everyone has their unique bond," Dawn diplomatically told People. "Every bond is different. If it works for them, great. It's not our bond. "

"Every mother-daughter has their ups and downs," said Cher when asked if she thought some of the moms and daughters take things too far. "I'm sure they have some really great aspects of their life and some really weird ones, too."

Angelica and Sunhe also refused to pass judgement on the other duos. "If that is what they like to do they can do that," said Angelica when asked by KTLA5 if a mother and daughter getting Botox together crossed a healthy boundary. "That is them."

All the mother-daughter duos on sMothered insist their relationships are healthy

The relationships portrayed on sMothered might seem codependent to most viewers, not to mention unhealthy, but the mother-daughter duos swear that there's nothing strange with their relationships. "People want to see their husbands every day, why wouldn't they want to see their kids every day?" Kathy told the Chicago Tribune. "I don't like the perception that there's something wrong with this. There's nothing wrong with this. There's nothing weird about this. This is how we live. We're just very close, and I don't get why people think it's so weird for mothers to be so close with their daughters. I would hope people would get from [the show] that it's not that crazy. It's maybe how it should be."

Angelica told the New York Post that her relationship with her mom is simply misunderstood. "People want to find something wrong in a relationship when they don't understand it," she said. "But my mom and I are close. There's nothing wrong with it."

Want a sMothered relationship yourself? Cher and Dawn wrote a book for that

The sMothered lifestyle isn't for everyone, but to each their own. If you watch the show and end up wanting your own tight bond with your mom, Cher and Dawn can teach you how. The mother-daughter duo wrote a book called A Bond That Lasts Forever. In it, they share tidbits about their lives, and also encourage mothers and daughters to forge a close relationship. 

"Every bond is unique and we know that ours may seem a little crazy at times (but whose doesn't?!), but no matter what, we have each other's back and that will never change," the mother and daughter wrote on their book's website. "We spent the past two years rehashing memories (good and bad), writing countless drafts, interviewing other mother-daughter pairs, and editing for hours, in order to make a book that will not only be enjoyable and an interesting read, but will help countless mother-daughter pairs create, mend, or strengthen their relationship."

They also have a blog that offers advice to moms and daughters looking to become closer, even if they don't necessarily want a sMothered type of relationship.

Do grandchildren change things for sMothered mother-daughter duos?

It seems that the mothers and daughters of sMothered aren't letting their significant others interrupt their bonds with each other, but how do grandkids affect the relationship? For Kathy and Cristina, it's no problem. Kathy is a hands-on grandmother and is helping to raise her grandkids, which enables her to spend even more time with her beloved daughter. "Cristina lives five houses away from me," said Kathy in the show's sneak peak. "We meet for breakfast, lunch, [and] dinner and I wouldn't have it any other way."

For Cher and Dawn, however, things are a little bit different. They live on opposite sides of the country, with Cher in New York and Dawn in Florida, so there's already a strain on their bond. Cher told her mom that she was expecting a baby in the first episode of the show and, while Dawn is ecstatic about her baby having a baby, she's also a little concerned about how it's going to affect their dynamic. "They [Cher and Jared] don't think it's going to change, but of course it's going to change," Dawn told People. "I am concerned where I'm gonna fit in."