The Untold Truth Of TLC's The Blended Bunch

TLC is at it again! The network that brought us all of the can't-peel-your-eyes-away reality television shows is adding another surefire hit to their lineup. The Blended Bunch, which follows the life of Spencer and Erica Shemwell along with their combined total of eleven kids from previous marriages, joins the ranks of other network shows centered around big families like Outdaughtered, Counting On, Welcome to Plathville, and more.

Erica Shemwell has seven kids total – Landon, 12, Emma, 10, Lily, 9, Sophie, 8, Tanner, 6, Amelia, 5, and Caleb, 3, – while husband Spencer has four kids of his own – Brayden, 12, Harper, 8, Avery, 6, and Bexley, 4 (via People). 

And while the family has seemingly found harmony in their large, blended family, both Spencer and Erica's backstories are heartbreaking. Erica, who was previously married to her husband Tony, lost him after he lost his years-long battle with cancer. Spencer's first wife Aimee tragically died in a car accident.

Get ready for a "modern-day Brady Bunch"

In the super-teaser for the new TLC show, Erica Shemwell told the camera, "We're kind of like the modern-day Brady Bunch." To which Spencer Shemwell quickly replied, "Except we have no Alice. We need an Alice." Stunned by her husband's brilliance, Erica said with a laugh, "Yes! That is genius!" 

All jokes aside, the Shemwell family opened up about wanting to share their unique story, writing in a blog post on Feb. 27, 2021, "We feel blessed to have this opportunity to share our story of heartache, healing, love, resiliency, failures, and successes with the world. Our show will feature real problems we experience as a family and as individuals and will discuss how we learn to overcome and work through hard things."

The blog post also revealed that the eldest kids of the blended family are most excited to "help other people" with their individual stories, as well as the Shemwells' journey to becoming a family.

"We are not a perfect family, and are still figuring things out, and will continue to face challenges in our future," the blog post continued. "But we hope that by sharing our story you will feel connection, validation, healing, gratitude, love, belonging, and above all, continual hope in your life."

Both Erica and Spencer Shemwell lost their spouses in tragic ways

Erica and Spencer Shemwell were both married prior to getting together; it's their shared grief over the loss of a spouse that led them to one another. The couple met through an online widower support group and just thirteen months later, the duo tied to knot. "We're both widowed, I mean, we lost our previous spouses. My husband, Tony, passed away from brain cancer three years ago," Erica said in the preview for the show. "I feel like my heart was ripped out of my chest."

Spencer also shared his story, adding, "I lost my wife, Aimee, in a car accident. I remember sitting the kids all in my lap, I said, 'Mommy passed away." While wiping away tears, he continued, "I thought there was no way that I could ever love anyone like Aimee."

Viewers will get a better sense of the Shemwell family and their hardships on the TLC premiere on Tuesday, March 16.

Erica opened up about her late husband in a touching Instagram post

Erica Shemwell introduced the family's Instagram followers to her late husband, Tony Means, in February 2021. "There is so much to say about Tony as a person, about his character, about the love he taught me in our short 10 years together," she wrote alongside photos of Means. "I could write a novel (literally!) but I'll give my best shot here today...." 

Before directing their followers to the blog post which details more about her life with Mean, the mother of eleven wrote, "After eight years of battling cancer, Tony died peacefully at home in December of 2016."

In the blog post, she wrote about how she met the biological father of her seven children.

"While both attending BYU in Provo, Utah, Tony met me (Erica) and we were married in June of 2007. Even though we were young and only had two years of schooling under our belts, we decided to have a baby!" she wrote. "Landon joined our family in April 2008 and my love for Tony unexpectedly grew; I loved watching him being a father."

The new parents' world came crumbling down after doctors discovered that Tony had a brain tumor shortly after Landon was born. Tony went through bouts of "good health," going in and out of remission multiple times. The couple had six more children together before Tony passed away in December 2016.

Spencer Shemwell also grew up in a blended family

The Shemwell family's shared Instagram page revealed a lot of information about Spencer Shemwell's upbringing. 

"Spencer was born in early 1988 and lived in Indiana during his childhood," read the post. "He grew up in a blended family with his mom Nanette and his sisters Sara and Shelby. His parents were divorced and he spent weekends with his dad Mike." 

The post also gives a little bit of background information about Spencer's wife and how she died.

"During the car accident Spencer was knocked unconscious and was life-flighted to the local hospital. It was while in the helicopter that one of the emergency responders told Spencer that the kids were okay but that his wife and their unborn baby had died," the post revealed. "He was heartbroken but had a peaceful reassurance that he would be with Aimee and their baby one day."

And Spencer has his faith to thank for that. "Spencer's faith in God helped him process her death and brought him immense comfort so he was able to pick up the pieces of his life and be there for his family," the post concluded.

Fans are already connecting to the Shemwell family

Per TLC's official Instagram account, the Shemwell family already has a growing fan base. It seems like their story is relatable to so many people across the country already. 

"My husband and I were widowed and found each other, one of the best things about us is, we can still talk about our late spouses, celebrate the special days and cry when the grief overwhelms us with no one feeling threatened by our memories," one Instagram user shared. "My kids and grandkids lost a dad and a grandfather, this still makes me sad. I'm going to love watching this new show."

Another TLC fan echoed that sentiment, writing, "Wow don't have as many kids but I lost my husband to cancer and my now husband lost his wife to cancer. We have now been together 5 years. Blending families aren't easy but we feel so blessed to have found each other."

You can catch the series premiere of The Blended Bunch on TLC on Tuesday, March 16 at 9 p.m. ET.