CHICAGO — Of course Kathy Crispino and Cristina Bertolli have been quarantining together during the coronavirus pandemic. The pair, who live five houses apart in the Chicago suburb Norridge, star on the TLC network series “Smothered,” about mothers and daughters who are very, very close.
“We were lucky enough that we were together every day before the quarantine started, so we never had to separate,” Crispino told the Tribune.
Season two is scheduled to premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday with Crispino, Bertolli and two other duos returning from the first season. Crispino, 61, and Bertolli, 35, said it was an easy decision to come back because there has been an “unbelievable” response from viewers since the show premiered in June 2019. Bertolli said even her husband saw a bump in traffic to his suburban Chicago restaurant, Bertolli’s Pizza.
“I didn’t realize it was going to be as big as it was. I run to the grocery store, and I have like a line of people asking to take a picture with me,” Crispino said. “People driving past my house, if I’m on the driveway, they’re like, ‘Ohmigod.’ They jump out of their car (to) take a picture. Chicago seems to love this show and love that there’s people from Chicago representing it.”
The season two premiere follows Crispino as she tries to coax Bertolli’s family — well, mostly Bertolli’s husband, Carlo — into staying with her during their proposed five-month home remodel. Crispino goes so far as to surprise him with her plan while he’s working out at the gym.
That was filmed before Illinois’ stay-at-home order began March 21, and daily routines changed. Bertolli, who has three small children, said she started teaching her dance lessons over video chat. The pandemic also affected the way the pair celebrates holidays — and this family loves to go over-the-top with holiday plans and decorations. They couldn’t host an Easter egg hunt, so they had a mobile celebration.
“My mom decided to be the Easter bunny, and we threw her on the back of my husband’s truck, and we drove to certain people’s homes. We had the dancin’, rockin’ Easter bunny, and we let the kids take pictures with the Easter bunny, and the truck was all decorated,” Bertolli said. “People just loved it. It brought a lot of spirit for the holiday.”
They began filming season two early this year with a camera crew, but then had to do the filming themselves. Bertolli said they are “kind of scared” to see how the footage turned out. “It’s definitely hard. There’s the lighting factor, the noise factor. We live right by O’Hare Airport. You have airplanes flying over. It’s difficult to film like the professionals do,” she said.
Three new “shamelessly inseparable” mother-daughter duos make their “Smothered” debut this season alongside the three returning families. One pair likes to take showers together, while one mother wakes her daughter by licking her face.
“Mother-daughter relationships are wonderful if you embrace them. There’s good and bad in every relationship,” Crispino said. “I know nobody has a perfect relationship, but if you trust your mother and trust your daughter and stick together, you can do anything. It’s wonderful. You can go through anything, especially a hard time like this.”