April 6, 2012— -- For the stars of the new reality TLC series, "Mama's Boys of the Bronx," growing up doesn't mean saying goodbye to mom -- or even leaving the nest.
Frankie Pairulli is a 38-year-old construction worker, a polite and eligible bachelor, who still lives at home with his parents in a working-class neighborhood near the Bronx. And he has no plans of moving out.
"Why get my own apartment when I can be right here with my mother and my family who I love?" Pairulli asked "Nightline." "Why move?"
Across the country, as many as three in 10 adult children live at home because of the bad economy. But it's not money woes that keep Pairulli living at home. He doesn't pay rent, but he helps around the house and helps pay bills.
"The economy has nothing to do with it," he said. "I have a great job. I'm a union worker. I make good money. My union is pumping with work."
His mother, Gina Pairulli, caters to his every need, cleaning up after him and making him home-cooked meals every day. Pairulli isn't embarrassed. In fact, he's proud of it.
Simply put, Pairulli is a mama's boy. And now, he is a part of yet another reality TV series about a cast of Italian-American characters, along with Anthony, 36, an aspiring cartoonist, Chip, 36, a personal trainer, Giovanni, 38, an aspiring fashion designer and Peter, 28, an aspiring actor. All of the boys live at home with mom, with the exception of Giovanni and Peter, who live at home with their Aunt Gina and father, Gus, respectively.
"Mama's Boys of the Bronx" is another addition to a reality TV world of "Cake Boss," "Mob Wives," "Real Housewives of New Jersey" and, of course, "Jersey Shore." But some Italians feel that reality shows like "Jersey Shore" only perpetuate negative stereotypes about Italian-Americans.
"I am angry," Pairulli said. "I won't go out drunk, go crazy, I am not a gangster, a mobster. ... And after that, you have 'Jersey Shore,' and I don't even want to go into that.
"Everyone is looking at it like this is the Italian life," he said. "It's not what the Italian life is about. ... Half of the people aren't even Italian."
Pairulli and the rest of the stars of "Mama's Boys" said their lives are more true to the real ways of Italian families.
"There is no show like 'Mama's Boys,'" Pairulli said. "It's to show the world a little more of our heritage. ... We are showing our traditions and values and showing how we were really raised."
Nearly 40 percent of grown men in Italy still live at home with their mothers. It's so common in Italian culture, there's a word for it, "mammino." And mom doesn't seem to mind.
"It's normal for us. Why he gotta move out?" Gina Pairulli said. "There is no reason for him to move out. If he wants to, he is welcome to move out, but then I am going to worry about what he is going to eat, clean. I am going to worry."
The TLC show includes its own healthy dose of partying, meticulous "manscaping" and skirt-chasing, but it seems like there is no girl out there that can measure up to mom.
"I don't have a girlfriend. Are you outta your mind? I'm smart," Frankie Pairulli said. "There's nobody as good as mom, ever. But there's never that perfect girl. I just want somebody that's compatible to me."
But is staying at home with the folks for decades a healthy way to live?
Terry Real, a family therapist, said these "Mama's Boys" are classic Romeos who may not realize their bachelor days have an expiration date.
"The job in your 30s and 40s is having a family, lifting yourself up out of your selfishness, being there for your wife and your kids. It's good for you. It's about growth and development and depth, and if you stay at this other level, you're doomed to superficiality for the rest of your life," Real said.
Pairulli insisted that he would much rather live at home than in a bachelor pad. While he doesn't have a curfew, his mother does seem to check up on him.
"I have brought a girl here, but the [bedroom] door has to stay open," Pairulli said. "If I close the door, my mother opens the door. The girl has to leave at a certain time at night. So even if I try to sneak them in the door, it ain't happening. They hear everything."
But let's face it, who would want to give up maid service and gourmet meal accommodations? Besides, mama knows best.
"Mama's Boys of The Bronx" premieres April 9 on TLC.