The Truth About TLC's I Love A Mama's Boy

Love usually can conquer all things, but in the case of TLC's "I Love a Mama's Boy," when it comes to overbearing mothers, sometimes it's a struggle. For the four couples featured in this offbeat reality show with a codependent twist, romantic unions constantly face adversity from one common factor: a meddling mother. The real question is can these men truly enjoy happily-ever-afters with both their significant others and mothers? Or will they have to choose between the two women competing for their heart?

The drama from the mamas is sure to have audiences both cringing and laughing as they cross the line in their sons' personal lives time and time again. Nothing seems to be off limits for the mother-son duos, and we are here to see it all unravel on screen. In a 2020 press release, TLC's president Howard Lee had this to say about the love fest between these exceptionally loyal sons and their mommies dearest: "From outrageous family dynamics and culture clashes to jaw-dropping mother-son rituals, we know viewers will go crazy for this fresh new love and relationship series."

Here is the untold truth behind the mother-son tag teams whose unusually close relationships are turning heads and breaking hearts. 

TLC's I Love a Mama's Boy may remind you of this show

"I Love a Mama's Boy" is eerily similar to another TLC creation, "Smothered," which delves into the relationships of mothers and daughters who are uncomfortably close. The highly rated reality show, which is still considered one of the worst shows on TLC, highlights the pairs' bonding over everything from taking showers to breastfeeding in tandem. Throughout its seasons, viewers have been introduced to pairs like Sandra and Mariah, who got breast implants together, and Sunhe and Angelica, who share the same bathwater. When asked about the ritual — which is unusual in the United States, though typical in other countries like Korea — Angelica told Monsters & Critics, "It's our bonding time and I don't foresee that changing anytime soon."

Just like with the mama's boys, the mama's girls' relationships with their significant others are negatively impacted. When star Cher had her first child, her mother, Dawn, moved in, which ended badly. "When they asked me to leave, I was unsure why," Dawn told Monsters & Critics

Another couple that dealt with the repercussions of a prying matriarch is Cristina and Carlo, who live five houses away from her mother, Kathy. This poses a problem in their marriage because of Kathy's meddling; she's even ambushed her son-in-law and told him to move into her home.

Only one of the four couples is engaged at the start of Season 1

Out of the four couples on TLC's "I Love a Mama's Boy" Season 1, Justina and Jason were the only ones engaged at the start of the show. As seen in the series, their plans to tie the knot were hindered by Jason's mother, Annette. In an interview on "Tamron Hall," the trio discussed the couple's impending nuptials and their differing opinions for the big day. "I just want to make sure that my son gets a fair say in the wedding planning," Annette said. She went on to say that her son should have an over-the-top wedding in Vegas and shouldn't have to cave to what Justina wants. In fact, she tried to convince her son to take her tuxedo shopping and leave Justina out. 

Having been together for years, Jason and Justina, who now know exactly what it's like to be on a TLC show, are parents to a daughter, who was 2 years old at the time of filming. As to be expected, Annette has apparently tried to intervene in how she's raised, with Jason having to put his foot down on the level of her involvement. "That has definitely become a strain in our relationship," Jason told host Tamron Hall. Annette said that not being able to be the grandmother she wants to be hurts her feelings.

Jason's mom has reportedly used a tracking device on him

In what can be considered the ultimate act of intrusion, Jason's mom, Annette, has reportedly employed the use of a tracking device to track her son. So how does his fiancée feel about the fact that her future husband's every move is monitored? The bride-to-be has seemingly come to terms with the overt breach of privacy. "She's gonna do it regardless if I like it or not," Justina said in an interview on "Tamron Hall."

Jason, who was 28 at the time, added, "My mom has a lot of involvement in my life." Talk about an understatement! He went on to say that he's gone to the doting matriarch for everyday life decisions and highly values her opinions. When host Tamron Hall asked if, other than when it comes to raising their child, there are any lines his mom cannot cross when it comes to his life, he answered, "Not really. You know, we're all open books here." 

Shekeb's mom blatantly disapproved of his girlfriend

At the time TLC's "I Love a Mama's Boy" started filming, Shekeb and Emily had been dating for two years, and the time had come for them to embark on the next chapter in their love story. At this point, Emily would have liked her boyfriend to move out of his parents' home, but that was not happening because of his mother, Laila. In an interview with "Right This Minute," Shekeb confessed that it's been difficult to make time for the two women in his life. "There's certain days I hang out with Emily and certain days I hang out with my mom," he explained. 

When asked what she thinks of her son's girlfriend, Laila did not hold back. In fact, she said, right in front of Emily, "She's not the type of girl that I want my son to marry." In a press release promoting "I Love a Mama's Boy," TLC noted that there are "religious and cultural differences" that Laila cannot overlook. That may be the reason that she tried to set her son up with another woman, as seen in the show's teaser. "I know women especially are going to call me crazy for dealing with this man," Emily told "Right This Minute." "I'm scared for all the judgement that I'm going to get."

I Love a Mama's Boy star Matt has gone lingerie shopping with his mom

Matt and Kim met on a dating app, and, when TLC's "I Love a Mama's Boy" started filming, they had been dating for three years. They cohabitated with his mother, Kelly, much to the detriment of their sex life. "I feel like I'm dating Matt and his mom," Kim lamented in the show's trailer. To heat things up in the bedroom, Matt went shopping for lingerie for his girlfriend ... and brought his mother along. In an interview with Tamron Hall, she asked if anything is off limits, to which Matt said, "I don't think there's anything ever been off limits with us, no."

In a clip from the show, the mother-son duo were seen at the store, with Matt holding up sexy lingerie and his mother replying, "That's certainly spicy!" It should come as no surprise that they have been mistaken for a couple in public before. "Remember one time they did think we were a couple when we were shopping in Italy?" Kelly said on "Tamron Hall." Kelly and Matt did not seem to find the fact that people think they are involved romantically awkward in the least bit. In fact, they "laughed it off." 

Stephanie knows she can't get engaged without the approval of Mike's mother

The trailer for Season 1 of TLC's "I Love a Mama's Boy" opened with Stephanie saying, "Everything about our relationship is perfect, except for one thing: his mom." Mike expressed this frustration to his mother, Liz, voicing the fact that he felt like he was being torn in two directions. Liz replied, deadpan, that it was an actual "competition" between her and her son's partner. 

Mike's ever-patient girlfriend knew that in order to take her relationship to the next level, she needed a seal of approval from mommy dearest. "His mom has to like me before we get engaged because she is gonna make the final call," Stephanie said in the show's trailer. However, only time will tell whether or not Liz will give the lovebirds her blessing, and it's not looking too promising. In one scene, Liz said, through tears, "You really need to take my son from me?"

Understandably, Stephanie has had reservations about a future with Mike. She confessed her concerns about his commitment to his mom in the teaser, saying, "If he's not gonna put me first, then I'm not really sure where we're gonna go from here."

Are the Season 1 couples still together?

After watching Season 1 of "I Love a Mama's Boy," it would be understandable if you assumed that none of the couples would be able to make it to the altar. Their relationships were clearly strained, yet, nearly a year after the first season aired, it seemed that two out of the four Season 1 couples were still going strong. The Cinemaholic reported that Jason McClain and Justina Gonzalez were still together in August 2021, as were Mike Boornazian and Stephanie Ressler. The outlet reported at the time that it wasn't certain if the remaining Season 1 couples, Kimberly Cobb and Matt McAdams and Shekeb Sekander and Emily Chu, were still together.

Season 2 saw the return of all but one couple, though — Jason McClain and Justina Gonzalez — so it seems as though, as of this writing, all of Season 1's couples are intact. While Season 2 picked up where Season 1 left off with most of the couples, fans have had to turn to Instagram to see how things are going with Jason and Justina. Per Justina's Instagram bio, she and Jason are still happily engaged. The TLC star regularly posts pics of their relationship, as well as adorable snaps of their daughter, Taylor Jay.

Tracy and Bryan ended up on the reality show after she went viral on TikTok

How does a couple get cast on "I Love a Mama's Boy"? There was a casting call for Season 2, and, while it's now expired, you can still see the listing on Backstage. The listing asks for people who are "dating, engaged to, married to or expecting a baby with a Mama's Boy" to email in details of their relationship to be considered for the show. It seems that there may be a little more to the process, though — or at least some things prospective couples can do to stand out.

Tracy and Bryan, who joined the cast of the reality show in Season 2, revealed how they ended up on the show in a YouTube video. Tracy explained that she attracted the attention of the producers of "I Love a Mama's Boy" after a TikTok video she posted went viral. In the video, Tracy is seen reacting to a video of a man talking about men who don't put effort into their relationships and expect their wives to do most of the work around the house. The video has over 370,000 likes.

"I think they saw that they're like 'Oh, she's ... reacting to a man saying that a man should do household stuff as well because it's also his responsibility. Maybe he doesn't do it because she's dating about a mama's boy,'" said Tracy on YouTube.

Some people think I Love a Mama's Boy is fake

There are two kinds of reality TV viewers. The first kind happily eats up everything on the screen, neither questioning nor caring whether or not the drama is real. Then there are the skeptics. They may still enjoy the show, but are convinced that at least some of it is made up for the cameras. There are plenty of people who think that "I Love a Mama's Boy" is scripted, a theory not helped by the fact that one of its stars, Shekeb Sekander, is an actor with a list of film and TV credits dating back to 2018's "Rampage."

As one Reddit user pointed out, the actor's Instagram is populated with work photos rather than of snaps of him with Emily, leading some to think that their storyline, at least, is one that was crafted for viewers of the show.

One "I Love a Mama's Boy" couple, Tracy and Bryan, took to YouTube to address the question of whether the show is "staged" or not. As Tracy explained, while some of the scenes can seem manufactured as filming times have to be planned in advance, everything else happens organically. "It is not scripted," she said. "Those are our natural words right off the top."

Mike's mom tried to ruin his engagement to Steph

While moms taking things too far is the entire premise of "I Love a Mama's Boy," it's still shocking to see just how controlling some of these women can be. Take, for example, what happened to Steph and Mike. Mike's mom, Liz, told her son not to propose to his girlfriend, and even threw out flowers Steph had gotten for her birthday, leading to a spat between the two women.

Bizarrely, "I Love a Mama's Boy" seems to have helped to mend the rift between Liz and Steph. While Liz was initially opposed to Steph marrying her son, thinking the two weren't compatible, the show helped them overcome their differences. "I hope [my relationship with Stephanie] continues to grow so that I can love her the same way that I love Michael, like a daughter," Liz said in an interview with Insider.

Fans want to see 90 Day Fiance's Colt Johnson star on the show

If you're a long-time TLC viewer, you'll know that overbearing parent-child relationships have been explored before. We're not just talking about "Smothered," either — one of the biggest mama's boys of TLC is Colt Johnson from "90 Day Fiancé." Colt's meddling mom has caused a lot of trouble for his relationships, leading Screen Rant to crown him "the ultimate mama's boy of '90 Day Fiancé' franchise history."

A lot of fans would love to see Colt and his mom, Debbie, bring their co-dependent relationship to "I Love a Mama's Boy" and are hoping for a crossover of the two TLC reality shows. As one Twitter user pointed out, the premise of "I Love a Mama's Boy" could easily have been inspired by Debbie, who Colt's ex Larissa Dos Santos Lima says is to blame for their split, as she drove a wedge into their relationship. "Wait this show #ILoveAMamasBoy isn't a Colt and Debbie spinoff? TLC, you have failed me!" tweeted the fan.

While there don't seem to be any plans to bring Colt on to "I Love a Mama's Boy," who knows what could happen? The chances seem slim, though, as Colt is now married to Vanessa Guerra, who seems to have a better relationship with Debbie than Larissa did. Then again, once a mama's boy, always a mama's boy.

Are the relationships on I Love a Mama's Boy healthy?

While the relationships on "I Love a Mama's Boy" make for great entertainment, most people probably wouldn't want to be involved with a mama's boy. The TLC show makes the relationships seem more than a little toxic, but are they really as terrible as they seem on TV? The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. Psychologist Terri Apter told Our Everyday Life that mother-son relationships have a big impact on men, and that "an overbearing mother is intensive, overly-involved and undermines the man's sense of autonomy," which can ultimately "be detrimental to his romantic relationship."

That doesn't mean a relationship with a mama's boy is inevitably doomed, though. Mama's boys can learn to set boundaries and to create balance between their relationships with their mothers and with their partners. Dating and relationship coach Laurel House pointed out to Ask Men that not all mama's boys are created equal, saying, "The name is broad, and can be assigned to men who have an unhealthy relationship with their mom, as well as those who have a very healthy and loving relationship with their mom."

The problem is when a mama's boy's relationship with his mother interferes with his relationship with his partner, but it doesn't have to get to that point. As House explained, in many cases, a man having a close relationship with his mom can indicate he will make a great partner as he may be "more emotionally intelligent, romantic, [and] kind."