Meet the real people behind TLC’s I Love A Mama’s Boy

Behind the Screen 11 February 2021

Matt, Kim and Kelly talk about lingerie, proposals and the reality of making I Love A Mama’s Boy on TLC (DStv channel 135).

Meet the real people behind TLC’s I Love A Mama’s Boy

The relationship reality series, I Love A Mama’s Boy, on TLC (DStv channel 135) has that addictive “Oh no you didn’t!” energy. Since its launch on Wednesday, 3 February, we’ve been watching open-mouthed as the women in the four couples get to grips with the other women in their boyfriends’ life… their mothers.

These are “significant mothers” who seem to have no boundaries with their baby boys. In episode 1, for example, we saw Matt (28) go Valentine’s Day lingerie shopping for his then-girlfriend Kim (25)… with mama Kelly (56) in tow, which led to Kim and Kelly sporting identical silk robes.

Meanwhile, in episode 6 (on 3 March), we saw Shekeb’s (30) mom, Laila (61), invite a blind date for Shekeb to his dinner with her and his steady girlfriend Emily (24), who she’s perfectly aware that her son is dating, and has met many, many times before. And fans will know this is just a scraping of ice from the tippy-top of the inappropriate iceberg.

As with all reality shows though, there are real people behind the sensational moments. They are now seeing themselves through a TV lens and dealing with people’s reactions to their previously private lives. We spoke to Matt, Kim and Kelly about their impressions of the show… and the other couples.

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Matt, Kim and Kelly spill the reality T

What was it like seeing your story from the outside in this TLC series?

Matt: We have seen the entire series in full. We enjoyed it. We enjoyed making it and we enjoyed watching it. You know, it has a lot of laughs, it has a lot of funny one-liners and it's nice to be able to kind of share our story with everybody. It was kind of like stepping out of your body and watching your life unfold before you. Seeing it on TV, seeing the articles, social media, all these different things, was a little odd at first, but I think we all got used to it.

Kim: It was crazy seeing it from the outside. We're living these lives and getting that outsider perspective and seeing what other people think about it. It's pretty crazy. This is a real experience and we're appreciative of the opportunity, but it was weird, definitely.

Kelly: A lot of my friends asked me, “Are you going to watch yourself? Are you going to throw a party?” So no, we didn't throw a party, but we did watch and I realised that you do gain that 10 pounds (4,5kg) when you're on TV. So I realised that I needed a tummy tuck and a neck lift.

You got to see everyone else's stories as well. What sort of behaviour crossed a line for you?

Matt: The tracking device is a bit much (Jason’s mom, Annette, uses a tracking device that tells her where her 28-year-old son is at all times). We don't do anything like that. I don't think my mom would do a Mission: Impossible like Annette and put the tracking device under the car. I think it's a share-your-location kind of a situation for your iPhone.

Kelly: Which I don’t know how to do.

Matt: Once Mom learns how to do that…! I thought it was an interesting aspect about their life that was a little different from ours. Would I say that crosses the line? Yes. That would cross the line. Shekeb and his mom, (Laila), they're fantastic you know, we love them, they're great people.

Kim: I just think the shaving was a little odd (we found out in episode 1 that Laila shaves Shekeb’s back for him).

Matt: The shaving was a little odd, but I don't think that's crossing a line because sometimes you can't reach those places. Kim bought me an electric shaver for Christmas two years ago because she wasn't going to do that. In the other stories, nothing stood out as really too absurd at all.

Is there something in the series where you'd like to tell people not to get it twisted?

Kelly: I’d love to tell somebody don't get it twisted!

Kim: Yeah, definitely. Don't take things too seriously. We're working on this and we’re just having a good time. Some of the stuff might get misconstrued when it’s filmed for TV, but we’re just a normal family.

Matt: A suburban family, totally. With me dying mom’s hair, a lot of people believe that happens every single time when I dye her entire head. I actually only help if she has to have a touch-up. I don't dye her complete head of hair. So I think that's something. And it's with the pandemic. I mean, Blake Lively and her husband (Ryan Reynolds) did it, so if Blake can do it, so can we. And they did it after us too. I wonder if they're watching?

A lot of things changed with the pandemic. You see all the families go through COVID in S1. You see how we all adjust our lives. That's the only thing I think people really kind of got twisted. People are seeing our lives in a brief hour episode once a week. They don't see all of the different things behind the scenes or what really goes on. If that were to happen, we'd have to be like the Truman Show (the 1998 Jim Carrey movie) and have just like a 24-hour camera on us.

Kim: One scene in particular that stands out that people might get twisted or think is odd is definitely the lingerie shopping scene. Matt and Kelly go and pick up a robe for me for Valentine's Day and I don't think that's a really common thing that mothers and sons do together. I know I was personally shocked when I found out they did that together, but once you know Matt and Kelly, you know, they are close. They're not close in a weird way. They are just best friends and best friends go shopping together. They do those things together and I hope people, when they do watch that scene, just kind of see it from that lens. It was just a really silly scene and they had fun doing it and I was shocked, but you know, it's just all fun for them.

I Love A Mama S Boy Lingerie (1)

Now coming up in episode 8 (on 17 March), there’s a scene in which Matt practises his proposal with Kelly…

Kim: I have to relive that? I was pretty shocked. I didn't know that happened until I saw the episode. It doesn't surprise me that they would do something like that because again, they're best friends. They help each other out with things like that. But it's still very strange that a son would practise his proposal on his mother. I don't think many men would do that. So overall it was just so shocking.

Kelly: What? I don't think it was strange at all.

Kim: I know you don’t. That’s why you did it.

Kelly: I think it was perfect.

What was it like comparing the live proposal to the practice version?

Kim: The live version was 100 times better. More thoughtful, genuine. Rest assured that Matt did not use the same speech on his mom as me, verbatim. Matt made the proposal so special. The proposal for Kelly didn't even compare.

Matt: It was like a dress rehearsal.

Kelly: Thanks, Kim.

Kim: A mini dress rehearsal in community college.

How has the pandemic living situation impacted you and how are you feeling about living together at the moment?

Matt: In the first part of the pandemic we got a little cabin fever, not being able to go anywhere, do anything. The world just completely shut down. We were blessed to be able to all be together and everybody remained healthy. I know so many people weren't as lucky. But I do think everybody can agree that everyone locked in a house, family, loved ones, friends, it doesn't work. No one can just stay locked up together.

Kim: We haven't killed each other yet so…

Matt: Yeah, we haven’t killed each other yet. I think we all have our different quadrants of the house kind of where we go and do our own things but other than that, we've ridden it out nicely.

Kim: But Matt and I are definitely ready to have our own space, and hopefully that comes sooner rather than later.

Matt: It’s soon.

How are your wedding plans coming along?

Matt: Organising anything is a challenge. We are looking at the best way we can do this and also do it the way we want to do it. Looking at what's safest and things like that. For more wedding details and more of that stuff, that people are going to have to wait to see later on.

Kim: Right now, because of the pandemic and just the state of the world, we have a lot of things for the wedding put on the backburner. It's just not an ideal time to plan a wedding. You can't really set things in stone right now because things are still getting cancelled and there's just so many other factors that most women planning a wedding don't have to consider. We're just waiting things out. We want to do it the right way and it's just going to take some time.

Matt: Mom's looking at it as now she has time to work on it to become the officiant. This is a blessing for her because she's trying to figure out what interpretive dance she can do. Mom's going to try to make it about her too. It's just how it rolls.

How has being in the show affected the way you watch reality TV?

Kim: I definitely see reality TV in a different light. I'm a huge fan of The Bachelor and those kinds of shows, and there's definitely a lot more effort in that filming and planning that you don't really consider because you don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Our days of filming are very long and tiring and it's exciting and fun, but you just really don't realise how big of a production it truly is.

Kelly: That's true. It is hard work but we do love it. We love making something that makes other people happy. But there's a lot of work in it, picking out clothes, making sure your hair's done.

Matt: That's for Mom. That's all for Mom!

Kelly: Making sure I have different rings to go with my outfit, different shoes…

Matt: For me, it's a bigger production than my mom’s wardrobe.

Kim: Even just emotionally, letting cameras into your home and into your personal life, is a big invasion of privacy at times. We allow them in because we want to do this show, but it's just a lot more of an emotional commitment than I think people realise.

Kelly: Yes.

Matt: I definitely don't harshly judge reality TV as much anymore, or just speculate because now being on it, I know how things can be construed. It’s actually made me like reality TV more because I know how so much more goes on behind the scenes. And if the Kardashians see this, we would love to be friends with you guys, and you could have your own row at the wedding.

How have you guys been handling social media around the show because people have mad opinions?

Matt: Do they ever!

Kim: Yeah, people have a lot of opinions. Still, people are entitled to their opinions. We are putting ourselves out there and people are going to pass their own judgement and that's okay. It's definitely been hard emotionally for me, seeing a lot of the tweets or mean things people have posted. It's not an easy thing to read when people are not really getting the best impression of you. But overall, we've gotten a lot of amazing fans out of the show. We've got a lot of great feedback and supporters and that makes it worth it because people who love us, I mean, they're just the best and in the end, we're really appreciative of them.

Matt: The one person that's a good fan and supportive, that conquers the 10 people that may hate us. Everybody has opinions. Social media has allowed people to hide behind their computers and phones and cast judgement. The same people probably would not have the nerve to say the things to our faces that they say about us online. We knew going into the show that things were going to be said, lied about, anything. You have to have thicker skin to do this and I think that it made us a stronger unit. There have been days where we've each been affected or bummed out because of something that was said or something we saw. We got over it together.

Kelly: Agreed, we talk about things. We vent about things and we just talk it through. We are a strong unit. In Kanye West’s words, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Matt: Isn’t that Kelly Clarkson?

Kelly: No.

Kim: I’m pretty sure that was Kelly Clarkson.

Kelly: We're going to take a bet. We're going to Google this later. We'll let you know. My point was that we're strong (fun fact, both Kelly Clarkson and Kanye West have nicked this quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche… as have at least 13 other musicians).

Where would you all like to see your relationship go from here? What's the dream scenario?

Matt: I think Kim wants to see our relationship in a moving van and leaving.

Kim: Kelly has to respect me and have boundaries. She's caressing me with her foot! [right now, Kim jokes]. I think Kelly would give us some more space and just respect me and Matt’s relationship…

Kelly: Okay, your life would be boring. Boring.

Matt: I want boring! I want quiet. I want peace and quiet and a cleaner house. (Matt laughs) I think ideally, we would just all respect each other's space and have good relationships with one another. Obviously, Kelly is not leaving the picture entirely.

Kelly: I am the picture, dear. I am the picture.

Watch I Love A Mama’s Boy S1 Wednesdays on TLC (DStv channel 135) at 21:00

Screenshot 2021 01 14 At 174403 534D (1)

Sea change

Ed’s other episode, Oceans, required a different sort of approach, but again, animals were the key.

“Weather is a visceral force, you can see it, you can film lightning storms, but I also did the Oceans film. And one of the main forces, or rather the main force, at play in the oceans is ocean currents, which are largely invisible,” says Ed.

“What we were keen to do in this series is we didn’t just want to pick a cool story that happened in the oceans, it had to very much speak to the narrative of the force, which is ocean currents. That's not always easy when you can’t see the force. We had to work hard on our stories, making sure we found the right one. We found some great stories which we would have loved to have told but they weren’t relevant to our actual narrative, so we had to search a bit harder and work a bit harder.”

The Oceans episode opens off the coast of South Africa where a massive pod of dolphins is hunting. Footage shot underwater by South African cinematographer Roger Horrocks reveals how the dolphins co-operate to herd mackerel into a tight formation – known as a bait ball – and drive them up to the surface where they can feast. There really is no escape for the mackerel as gannets that have been following the dolphin pod attack from the air too. Roger got a mackerel’s eye view from below the diving birds, while drone footage from above reveals the seething white water from the feeding frenzy below, which is soon joined by sharks.

After the frenzy has us gripped and invested in the action, the scraps drift down to the ocean floor. But that’s not where the story ends because, thanks to the currents, those nutritious little bits and pieces get swept right back up again and pulled along to feed plankton. So from this massive scene of action, Ed cuts into the peaceful, fascinating microscopic world of the plankton and phytoplankton that produce half the world’s oxygen (a fact that was only uncovered in 1988). It’s real circle of life stuff.

In this episode, Ed brings us another charming little creature whose babies depend on those current-delivered scraps – a flamboyant cuttlefish who’s in his brightest colours because he’s out courting a lady cuttle. The lady he’s set his sights on is four times bigger than him, but the dauntless cuttle scuttles on, and A Perfect Planet takes the time to tell his story.

“We filmed a tiny, tiny cuttlefish in Indonesia. We knew we wanted to go out to film the cuttlefish. We wanted to film the mating behaviour and the egg-laying. But what we couldn’t plan for was what we saw. We saw this tiny male, which is about a quarter of the size of the female rebuffing him, but he kept going, and kept on going. So of course, in the edit, well, most men can relate to that to some degree. So we did have fun in the edit playing around with that and drawing out that character and to a certain extent anthropomorphising it,” says Ed.

Out in the field throughout the series, Ed, his fellow episode producers and the cinematographers were already thinking about how their stories could come together, earmarking those quirky little characters who had caught their attention.

“One of the most important things that we do on a shoot, certainly I try to get everyone on my team to do this, is after every day's filming, although you may be tired, it's really worth just sitting down and watching what you've shot,” says Ed.

“Then you know what's working, you know what's not working, it will give you ideas. I find that most evenings when I'm watching the footage that's been shot that day, you might see glimpses of something that makes you think, ‘That's a nice little avenue here,’ little glimpses of character come out and make you think, ‘Aha, we can build on that.’”

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