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Mama's Family

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Mama's Family
Created byDick Clair
Jenna McMahon
Directed byRoger Beatty
Harvey Korman
Dick Martin
Dave Powers
StarringVicki Lawrence
Ken Berry
Dorothy Lyman
Rue McClanahan
Eric Brown
Karin Argoud
Betty White
Beverly Archer
Allan Kayser
Theme music composerMusic: Peter Matz
Lyrics: Vicki Lawrence
Opening theme"Bless My Happy Home"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes130 (list of episodes)
Executive producerJoe Hamilton
ProducersJim Evering
Neil Lebowitz
Dave Powers
Fred Rubin
Robert Wright
Production locationsCBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1983–84)
Metromedia Square
Hollywood, California (1986–90)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time24–25 minutes (NBC episodes)
21–22 minutes (syndicated episodes)
Production companyJoe Hamilton Productions
Original release
NetworkNBC (1983–1984)
Syndicated (1986–1990)
ReleaseJanuary 22, 1983 (1983-01-22) –
February 24, 1990 (1990-02-24)

Mama's Family is an American sitcom television series starring Vicki Lawrence as Mama (Thelma Harper). The series is a spin-off of a recurring series of comedy sketches called "The Family" featured on The Carol Burnett Show (1967–78) and Carol Burnett & Company (1979). The sketches led to the television film Eunice, and finally the television series.

Mama's Family aired on NBC, debuting on January 22, 1983. After several timeslot changes and a subsequent drop in ratings, the network cancelled the series; the final episode of this two-season NBC incarnation of the series aired on April 7, 1984.[1] NBC broadcast reruns until September 1985, which unexpectedly performed well in ratings.

Two years after its cancellation, original series producer Joe Hamilton Productions (JHP) revived Mama's Family for new episodes in first-run syndication on local stations across the United States. The reincarnation, distributed by Lorimar-Telepictures, premiered on September 27, 1986.[2][3] The modified four-season series revival gained substantially higher ratings than its first incarnation, eventually becoming the highest-rated sitcom in first-run syndication, with its final episode airing on February 24, 1990.

The show's theme song is "Bless My Happy Home", created as an a cappella by Lawrence. The show's producers chose to use an instrumental of Lawrence's song composed by Peter Matz.[4] Disclosing the lyrics to the song as part of her Vicki and Mama: A Two Woman Show (untelevised stand-up comedy routine Lawrence has hosted as herself and Mama since 2001), Lawrence routinely performs the song in its original a cappella form.[5] The lyrics were also featured in an advertisement for the show on MeTV.[6][7]



The show is set in the city of Raytown, which actress Vicki Lawrence later revealed to be Raytown, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City[8] (although the script writing suggests the setting was Raytown, Mississippi, given the rural southern nature of the series). The television series revolves around the wacky misadventures of the Harper family, extended non-Harper family members and their neighbor friend in later seasons. Always at the center of all the trouble, turmoil and misunderstandings is head of the clan and matriarch Thelma Harper (Mama)—a thickset, gray-haired, purse-lipped, mid-to-late 60s widow who is portrayed as explosively quick-tempered, abrasive, and brash.[9]

Mama's snappy retorts and wisecracks are featured in a running gag in which the final scene of each episode cuts to an exterior shot of her residence (1027 Montrose Avenue in South Pasadena, which was also the house of Lynda's character in the 1978 film Halloween. The home was only featured briefly in the film where Lynda walks toward the front door[10]) while Mama's voice is heard making a sharp or witty reply to whoever had previously spoken. This is then followed by audience laughter and applause. In spite of Thelma's derogatory attitude, regular zingers and sarcasm, she is nurturing and obliging at heart, allowing family members to live off her in her home who would otherwise have no place to live, while also regularly cooking for and cleaning up after them.[9]

Network run (seasons 1–2)

Characters of the first incarnation of Mama's Family (clockwise from bottom left): Buzz, Vinton, Naomi, Ed (recurring character), Ellen (recurring), Fran, Sonja, and Thelma

Beginning the series


In the ninth season of The Carol Burnett Show, producer Joe Hamilton wanted to spin off Mama into her own series, but Lawrence turned him down. She did not wish to wear a "fat suit portraying an old lady every week", and she had misgivings about playing the role without Harvey Korman (who played Mama's son-in-law, Ed Higgins) and Carol Burnett (who played Mama's daughter Eunice Higgins) regularly by her side as in "The Family" sketches. Burnett and Korman told Lawrence that they would only appear as guest stars on the new series, and that it was Lawrence's time to shine and take what she had learned from The Carol Burnett Show and make it on her own. Shortly after the highly-rated Eunice TV movie, with continued urging by Korman and Burnett, Lawrence finally changed her mind and accepted the offer for her character's own sitcom.[1]

The writers had created Raytown to be its own "cartoon-like" world outside of reality. Although the series was sold to NBC without a pilot, the network had its own requirements, such as having "normal" teenagers as seen in other sitcoms of the time, which is how the Buzz and Sonja characters came about.[11] However, Lawrence had a great deal of creative input and made many important decisions, including bringing in Korman very early on to co-direct the series. Lawrence objected to the original script of the episode "Mama Cries Uncle", in which Thelma's brother-in-law visits and the two supposedly wound up sleeping together:

I went to the writers and I said, "I'm sorry, she is nothing if not Bible Belt. She would never sleep with her brother-in-law. I don't care how dead her husband is, This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong". Well, threw everything into a tizzy and Joe [Hamilton] said, "Gotta listen to her," and they re-wrote the second half of the show.[1]

According to her autobiography, Lawrence had a problem with the decision to tape the series on Stage 33 at CBS Television City, where The Carol Burnett Show was produced.[citation needed]

Plot details


For 1½ seasons from 1983 through 1984, Mama's Family ran on NBC. In the series' first episode, Thelma Harper lives with her uncomfortable, uptight spinster sister Fran (Rue McClanahan), a journalist for a local paper. Thelma's son Vinton (whose wife Mitzi had left him to become a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas) arrives to inform Thelma that he and his two children, Sonja and Buzz, have been evicted from their home and need a place to stay. Much to Fran's chagrin, Thelma allows the trio to move in.

During the first season, Vinton forged a relationship with the Harpers' flirtatious next-door neighbor Naomi Oates, whom Thelma disliked, and soon married her. After selling Naomi's house and losing the money in a bad business deal, Naomi and Vint are forced to move into Thelma's basement, where they remain for most of the show's run. Also seen on a recurring basis were Thelma's two daughters: the snobbish Ellen (Betty White) and the ornery Eunice (Carol Burnett). Harvey Korman, who directed many of the earlier episodes, made featured appearances as Eunice's husband, Ed Higgins. (During the eleventh and final season of The Carol Burnett Show, the Ed Higgins character left Eunice and was written out of "The Family" skits.)

Opening theme discrepancies


Korman appeared at the beginning of each episode as the stuffed shirt Alistair Quince (a parody of Alistair Cooke), who would soberly introduce the program in the style of Masterpiece Theatre.[12] These monologs were cut out of the later syndicated reruns. Korman also performed the voice of Thelma's unseen late husband, Carl, in flashback episodes.

An extended version of the show's opening theme song, with repeated melodies, was used during the original NBC run, but was never used in reruns.

The house and neighborhood shown in the opening credits differed between the original NBC run and the syndicated run (1027 Montrose Avenue in South Pasadena, which was also the house of Lynda's character in the 1978 film Halloween. The home was only featured briefly in the film where Lynda walks toward the front door[10]), leading to discrepancies such as in the episode "Mama for Mayor", in which Mama is shown in front of a house similar to the one used in the original opening theme of the first two seasons, though there are noticeable differences as it's not the same house.

In 2013, StarVista Entertainment released the original NBC seasons with the Alistair Quince intros and original opening credits intact, except for two episodes in Season 1 ("Cellmates" and "Mama's Boyfriend"), as the master prints of those episodes are lost and were replaced by the syndicated version in the re-release.



While not a huge ratings success, the first season garnered solid enough numbers to justify being renewed for a second season.[13] For instance, the premiere episode ranked #25 for the week with an 18.6 rating and a 28 share. However, during the second season, the show dropped out of the top 50 shows, losing share to CBS' hit Magnum, P.I. As a result, NBC canceled the series in May 1984.

First-run syndication (seasons 3–6)

Characters of the reincarnation of Mama's Family (clockwise from center left): Iola, Bubba, Vinton, Naomi, and Mama.

Series rebirth


After Mama's Family was canceled by NBC in 1984, it was later relaunched in first-run syndication in 1986.[14] Lorimar Television had just merged with Telepictures and were looking for new projects for the then newly commenced first-run syndication market.[14] After observing high ratings for NBC's Mama's Family in summer reruns, production staff decided that the show deserved a second chance and ordered 100 episodes for syndication.[1][15] Bubba, the son of Ed and Eunice, comes to live with Thelma after his parents move away.[16]

Absence of Carol Burnett as the "Eunice" character


According to Lawrence's autobiography, Vicki!: The True-Life Adventures of Miss Fireball, Burnett resented Lawrence for accepting the role of Mama for first-run syndication with producer Joe Hamilton (who owned the Mama's Family characters). It was during this time that Burnett was involved in an acrimonious divorce from Hamilton, who produced both The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family.[17] Burnett felt Lawrence had been disloyal to her and held a grudge against her until Hamilton's death in 1991. Sometime after Hamilton's death, Burnett and Lawrence reconciled. Lawrence's autobiography reads:

A funny thing happened the day I signed with Lorimar. Carol called and said, 'I think I'd like to put together maybe a little syndicated show with the family characters. I'll do Eunice, you do Mama. Doesn't that sound like fun?' I said, 'It does, but I just signed with Lorimar to do Mama's Family for Joe.' It became a very abrupt conversation, and Carol hung up. I then went to Al and asked him what he made of the whole thing. He agreed it was really weird. I wondered if I was about to get caught in the middle of yet another struggle between the two of them . . . During her divorce, Carol and I went through a 'cool' period. She 'divorced' everyone and remained distant for a lot of years. She called the house a few years ago. I was standing at the sink peeling carrots, fifteen feet from the phone, but Garrett got to it first and I only heard his half of the following conversation: 'Hello? Oh hi. Yeah, sure, he's in the other room, on the other line. You want me to tell him you're calling? My mom's here, you want to talk to her? No? Okay. Goodbye.' When he hung up I asked him who it was. 'Carol Burnett.' I was shocked. 'What did she say?' 'She didn't want to talk to you. She only wanted to talk to Dad.' Al called her back later that night, made a point of telling her how much we missed and loved her, and she told him, 'I'll be back. It's just going to take a while longer. Give me another year or so."[18]

Series end


After Mama's Family was picked up in first-run syndication, ratings for the series improved, becoming the highest-rated first-run program in syndication.[19] According to Ken Berry, Lawrence had seemingly grown tired of playing the "Mama" role by 1990 and wanted to end the show.[20] According to Lawrence, who would reprise Mama on stage for many years thereafter, the series ended because it had reached the standard threshold of 100 episodes, and the syndicator no longer needed to produce anymore, even though she would have wanted the show to continue.[1]

Cast and characters


Thelma Mae Crowley Harper (Mama)




Thelma Harper, better known as Mama, is the title character/main character of Mama's Family; and is the widowed matriarch of a rural Southern family.[21] She is an elderly country woman in her mid-to-late 60s, who speaks in a southern drawl.[9]



Mama's appearance is based on that of a stereotypical elderly woman. She is a thickset, purse-lipped widow with silvery gray curls. All of her daytime outfits were short-sleeved, floral-print dresses with lace collars. Costumer Ret Turner color-coded Mama in flowery colors, mainly mixtures of blues, greens and lavenders.[22] As much of Mama's time was spent cooking and cleaning, she often wore overlapping aprons over her dresses. Mama's lower legs were always enveloped by visible support hose (a feature that was nonexistent during "The Family" sketches, but made its first appearance when she donned them during a segment of the 1982 Eunice movie).[23] For footwear, Mama regularly wore white orthopedic, colonial shoes that took an Alfred J. Cammeyer evening oxford heels style.[24]

Persona evolution


In contrast to her more stereotypically elderly, dependent, invariably spiteful and cantankerous character on "The Family" skits, Mama's hostilities were significantly toned down in the sitcom's first life.[14] Though still cantankerous, the character expanded with wisecracks and humor, pesky antics, unseemliness and naivete. Mama's unseemliness and naivete were exemplified by her inability to drive (episode "Mama Learns to Drive"); inability to act in socially acceptable ways in public and in the presence of guests (episodes "The Mama Who Came to Dinner", "Country Club" and "Ellen's Boyfriend"); inability to hold jobs outside the home (episodes "Mama Gets a Job", "Supermarket" and "Mama for Mayor"); etc. These characteristics often resulted in the humiliation or frustration of her loved ones.

By the show's second life, Mama was no longer naive (Vinton overwhelmingly assumed this role) and far more capable of high spirits than ever before. This version of Mama had the fewest stereotypically elderly traits. She was dutiful in caring for her home, garden and family; independent; and active in the community along with best friend Iola Boylen. For example, Mama returned to high school and graduated (episodes "Educating Mama," "Teacher's Pet," and "Pomp and Circumstance"); she was heavily involved in the Church Ladies League and at one point its president (episode "Where There's Smoke"); Mama participated in dirty dancing (episode "Very Dirty Dancing"); went on a trip (episode "Mama Goes Hawaiian"), etc. Highlighting her much more relaxed nature during the syndicated seasons, Mama's main character trait during this time was her many fretful wisecracks, typically made in a high-pitched, whiny voice. Despite that, this era of Mama was more derogatory than ever; rough, abrasive and brash in manner; volatile and explosive in temper; and smart-mouthed with a proneness for making snappy retorts.[9]

Vicki Lawrence on evolution of Mama


In February 2013, Lawrence stated that "The Family" sketch version of Mama was created by writers (Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon) who hated their mothers.[1][25][26]

Family members and friends

Character Actor Years Character rank
Vinton Harper[9][22] Ken Berry 1983–1984
Regular character
Naomi Oates Harper[9] Dorothy Lyman 1983–1984
Regular character
Vinton "Buzz" Harper, Jr. Eric Brown 1983–1984 Regular character
Sonja Harper Karin Argoud 1983–1984 Regular character
Ellen Harper-Jackson Betty White 1983–1984
Recurring character
Eunice Harper Higgins Carol Burnett 1983–1984 Recurring character
Ed Higgins Harvey Korman 1983–1984 Recurring character
Bubba Higgins[9] Allan Kayser 1986–1990 Regular character
Frances Marie Crowley[27] Rue McClanahan 1983–1984 Regular character
Iola Boylan[22] Beverly Archer 1986–1990 Regular character

Harper family tree

Mama Crowley and Frank Crowley*Mammy and Willie Harper
Frances CrowleyThelma CrowleyCarl HarperEffie Harper Roy Harper
Bruce JacksonEllen HarperEunice HarperEd HigginsMitzi (div.)Vinton HarperNaomi OatesLeonard Oates (div.)
Bubba HigginsSonja HarperVinton "Buzz" Harper, Jr.Tiffany Thelma Harper
  • Magenta = Crowleys
  • Orange = Harpers
  • Blue = Harper children
  • Red = Harper in-laws
  • Green = Harper grandchildren

*Note: Thelma's mother was shown on two occasions on the show (once in a flashback and once as a ghost, played both times by Vicki Lawrence), but her name wasn't revealed. There were at least two Crowley brothers (mentioned in passing in "Double Standard" and "Mama with the Golden Arm"); one was named Clyde ("Pomp and Circumstance"). A cousin named Cora is seen in "There's No Place Like...No Place", and an Uncle Oscar is mentioned in "Mama Gets the Bird", but it is not known if he was from Thelma's side of the family or her husband Carl's. Eunice also mentions having a son named Billy, but Billy's whereabouts are unknown in Mama's Family.


Season Episodes First aired Last aired Network
1 13 January 22, 1983 (1983-01-22) May 7, 1983 (1983-05-07) NBC
2 22 September 29, 1983 (1983-09-29) April 7, 1984 (1984-04-07)
3 25 September 27, 1986 (1986-09-27) March 28, 1987 (1987-03-28) Syndicated
4 25 September 26, 1987 (1987-09-26) March 26, 1988 (1988-03-26)
5 25 November 5, 1988 (1988-11-05) May 27, 1989 (1989-05-27)
6 20 September 23, 1989 (1989-09-23) February 24, 1990 (1990-02-24)

Altogether, Mama's Family had six seasons consisting of 130 episodes. The show's first life consisted of 35 episodes, making for two seasons. The show's second life consisted of 95 episodes, making for four seasons.

Favorites of Vicki Lawrence


On September 30, 2013, Vicki Lawrence was asked what her favorite episodes of the series are:

  • Lawrence answered that among the early seasons, her favorite is the episode "The Wedding (Part 2)." Her reason for favoring this episode is the big names featured in it. She listed Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Betty White, Ken Berry and Dorothy Lyman. In admiration, Lawrence remarked, "How much help does one girl get?" and "It's just an amazing supporting cast. Dear God, Carol was funny in that show!"[25]
  • Lawrence has described another favorite from the early seasons as the episode "Rashomama," which is a takeoff on the Japanese film Rashomon. The episode is about Mama getting hit with a kettle in the kitchen and it is her, Betty, Dorothy, and Carol. At the emergency room, the three of them all have different versions of what happened to Mama. Lawrence explained, "We redo the scene three different ways, and it's pretty funny."[25]
  • As other episode favorites, Lawrence has named "Family Feud" and "Mama on Jeopardy!" Lawrence stated she loved having this dysfunctional family sent out into the real world. In particular, she enjoyed the inclusion of game shows because "people know the format of these shows so perfectly, and to watch this crazy family get stuck in that format was really fun to me. Probably because I also love game shows so much."[25]
  • As another episode favorite, Lawrence named "The Love Letter." Stated Lawrence, "It was a great episode, a record-holder actually. I think Bubba writes a love letter for Vint, who is having some problems with Naomi. In the course of the 22-minute episode, everybody thinks that the love letter is meant for them. Mama thinks it is for her from the repair guy who is there. Iola is sure Vint has written it to her. The show actually ran 22 minutes with no costume changes or anything. I remember the night that we did it. We did it in 22 minutes and were out at 7:25, and our director said, 'Good night, you're done!'" Lawrence added, "Honestly, I have to say, by the time we finished the show, we had it down to a four-day workweek, so I kind of felt like we got paid to play dress up really."[25]


  • Season 1: #59
  • Season 2: #66

Home media

DVD Cover Art
DVD information
Mama's Family—The Complete First Season

On September 26, 2006, Warner Bros. Television released season 1 of Mama's Family on DVD. The DVD release features the syndicated versions of the episodes, which edits roughly three minutes from what originally aired. Warner Bros. claimed to only own the rights to the syndicated form.[28]

Due to issues relating to ownership rights between the show's production companies, Mama's Family for a long time had difficulties coming out on DVD, with only its first season available for many years.

However, in May 2013, it was announced that StarVista Entertainment would release all 6 seasons of the sitcom to DVD, as well as a complete series box set, which was available only through the StarVista website. Most of the original unedited versions, dubbed "The Joe Hamilton Cuts," were presented on DVD. Included with the package were extras of over 10 hours of bonus material, as well as a new cast reunion with Vicki Lawrence and the show's syndicated cast members. In addition, StarVista offered a "Signature" collection of the entire series, autographed by Vicki Lawrence, which was limited to 500 copies.[29]

In the fall of 2013, Star Vista began releasing individual season sets, Seasons 1 & 2 were released on September 10, 2013,[30] followed by season 3 on February 25, 2014.[31] Season 4 was released on June 24, 2014,[32] Season 5 on September 23, 2014[33] and the sixth and final season was released on February 10, 2015.[34] In conjunction with the complete seasons, Star Vista released a "best-of" single-disc unit for each season. Selected by Vicki Lawrence, each release has 6 (season 1 has 7) of her personal favorite episodes from each season.

Release Ep # DVD release date Bonus features
The Complete 1st Season 13 September 26, 2006
(re-released September 10, 2013)
Featurette: Mama's Family Tree: The Branches (All About Eunice and Ellen)

Family History: A Classic "Family" Sketch from The Carol Burnett Show, featuring Betty White

The Complete 2nd Season 22 September 10, 2013
The original TV movie Eunice

Featurette: Mama's Family Tree: The Roots (all about Mama and Fran)
Interviews: Vicki Lawrence interviews Mama; Vicki Lawrence and Carol Burnett; Betty White

The Complete 3rd Season 25 February 25, 2014
Family History: A Classic "Family" Sketch from The Carol Burnett Show, featuring Maggie Smith

Featurette: Mama's Family Tree: The Sprouts (All about Bubba)
Mama Knows Best: A Mama's Family Cast Reunion
Interview: Allan Kayser (Bubba)

The Complete 4th Season 25 June 24, 2014
Featurette: Mama's Family Tree: The Neighbors (All about Iola)

Interview: Beverly Archer (Iola Boylen)
Under One Roof: A Mama's Family Cast Reunion

The Complete 5th Season 25 September 23, 2014 Interviews:

Vicki Lawrence
Dorothy Lyman
Ken Berry
Rick Hawkins

The Complete 6th Season 20 February 10, 2015 Interviews:

Jim Evering
Manny Basanese
Vicki Lawrence and Rick Hawkins
Bob Mackie and Ret Turner

Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 1) 7 September 10, 2013 "Vint and the Kids Move In", "The Wedding, pt. 1", "The Wedding, pt. 2"; "Cellmates", "Family Feud", "Positive Thinking", "Mama's Boyfriend"
Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 2) 6 September 10, 2013 "Country Club", "Rashomama", "Aunt Gert Rides Again", "Mama Learns to Drive", "Mama Buys a Car", "Dear Aunt Fran"
Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 3) 6 September 9, 2014 "Soup to Nuts", "Cat's Meow", "Steal One, Pearl Two", "Where There's Smoke", "Birthright", "It Takes Two to Watusi"
Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 4) 6 January 27, 2015 "Zirconia's are a Girl's Best Friend", "Educating Mama", "The Sins of the Mother", "Mama on Jeopardy!", "Mama Goes Hawaiian, pt. 1", "Mama Goes Hawaiian, pt. 2"
Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 5) 6 April 28, 2015 "Naomi's New Position"; "The Really Loud Family", "Found Money", "Mama's Layaway Plan", "Mama in One", "Dependence Day"
Mama's Family: Mama's Favorites (Season 6) 6 July 28, 2015 "Mama Fights Back", "Bubba's House Band", "The Big Nap", "Pinup Mama", "Look Who's Breathing", "Bye-Bye Baby!"
The Complete Series 130 September 10, 2013
(online exclusive)
September 23, 2014
(retail release)

Awards and nominations


Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Category Nominee(s) Episodes(s) Result
1983 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series Bob Mackie and Ret Turner for ""The Wedding: Part 2" Nominated
1984 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series Bob Mackie and Ret Turner for "Mama's Birthday" Won
1987 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series Bob Mackie and Ret Turner for "The Love Letter" Nominated

TV Land Awards

Year Category Nominee(s) Episodes(s) Result
2004 Favorite "Big, Bad Momma" Vicki Lawrence N/A Won

Young Artist Awards

Year Category Nominee(s) Episodes(s) Result
1984 Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series Karin Argoud N/A Nominated
Best Young Actor in a Comedy Series Eric Brown N/A Nominated
1985 Best Young Actress – Guest in a Television Series Tanya Fenmore for "Mama's Birthday" Nominated
Best Young Actor – Guest in a Television Series David Friedman for "Mama's Birthday" Nominated
1989 Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Syndicated Comedy, Drama or Special Ryan Bollman for "Child's Play" Nominated
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Drama or Comedy Series Allan Kayser N/A Nominated



After the series finale in 1990, the entire series (including the NBC episodes) was placed in off-network syndication, airing in most cities every weekday. Mama's Family also ran on TBS from January 1997 until August 2006 premiering weekday mornings. In October 1998, TBS aired a full hour of Mama's Family weekday afternoons at 6:05 pm/et and then moved the show to 4:05pm/et in November 1998.[35] That same month, ION Television (formerly the PAX network) began airing reruns of the series. The show aired Monday through Friday at 8:00 to 9:00 pm from 2006 to 2008. ET.[35]

In December 2006, CMT began re-airing the series.[36]

Mama's Family currently airs on CMT, Logo TV, and MeTV.

On November 1, 2023, the free streaming service Pluto TV added all of the seasons of Mama's Family on their On Demand service, however as of January 3, 2024, it only offers the last three seasons.[37] It also airs on the Pluto TV classic TV channel.

Also airs on Catchy Comedy.

International versions


An Italian version called La mamma è sempre la mamma (Mom is always mom) aired on Odeon TV in 1988.

Post-television show appearances of Thelma Harper/Mama

Vicki Lawrence as Thelma Harper, 2009
  • Vicki Lawrence has been reprising her role of Mama in her untelevised touring stage show, entitled Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show. In the show, Lawrence first performs stand-up comedy as herself, then comes out in character as Mama, giving her opinions on modern-day topics. During the break between the two acts, the audience is shown bloopers from the syndicated seasons of the series. Lawrence also sings the lyrics she wrote for "Bless My Happy Home," the show's theme song, which were omitted from the version used on-air.
  • Lawrence has also appeared in her Mama role on several Halloween-themed episodes of the 1998–2004 run of Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron at the helm.
  • Lawrence appeared on RuPaul's Drag Race in the "All-Stars" season as Mama in the skit "RuPaul's Gaff-In."
  • Lawrence appeared on The Queen Latifah Show as Mama the Monday after Mother's Day 2014 in a comical skit that aired prior to each commercial break. Lawrence also appeared on the show 8 days later alongside two other well-known actresses to speak about her role of Mama and her personal life.
  • Lawrence resurrected the character in promos for reruns of Mama's Family on the MeTV channel in 2015–2016.[38]
  • Lawrence resurrected the character during the 2015 and 2016 TV seasons of The Doctors, where she talked about health-related issues.


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  3. ^ "Seven Questions with Vicki Lawrence of Mama's Family; Charmed Coming to Lifetime to Compliment [sic] Witches of East End, Project Runway All-Stars with Alyssa Milano – SitcomsOnline.com News Blog". sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Interesting facts about Vicki Lawrence". Findfactsabout.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  5. ^ "Vicki Lawrence - Mama's Family Theme Song With Lyrics - Lorain Palace - 3/11/17". YouTube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  6. ^ "Mama Sings the 'Mama's Family' Theme!". YouTube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  7. ^ Lawrence, Vicki. "Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show". The Broker Company. United States. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Brooks, Marla (2005). The American Family on Television: A Chronology of 121 shows, 1948–2004. McFarland & Co. p. 141. ISBN 0-7864-2074-X.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Vicki Lawrence Reflects on 'Mama's Family' Legacy and Reveals Her Favorite Episodes (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. 2013-06-09. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  10. ^ a b "FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – "MAMA'S FAMILY"". Limelight. United States. September 11, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
  11. ^ Hawkins, Rick. "Rick Hawkins". Mama's Family The Complete 5th Season DVD.
  12. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (9 ed.). New York: Random House Publishing. p. 843. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4. Retrieved 2024-06-04.
  13. ^ Lewis, Dan (1983-04-23). "A shaky reunion for 'Mama's Family'". Merced Sun-Star. p. 12. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  14. ^ a b c Margulies, Lee (September 26, 1986). "THE FALL TV SEASON: TV REVIEWS". The Los Angeles Times. United States. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  15. ^ Lyman, Dorothy. "Mama Knows Best: A Mama's Family Cast Reunion". Mama's Family The Complete 4th Season DVD.
  16. ^ Bruce, Amanda; Norman, Dalton (December 31, 2023). "The Cast Of Mama's Family: Which Actors Are Still Alive". Screen Rant.
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  • Mama for President: Good Lord, Why Not?, by Thelma Harper, as told to Vicki Lawrence and Monty Aidem, Thomas Nelson, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4016-0409-7
  • "Mama's Family": The Unofficial Episode Viewing Guide, by Andrew Whitenack, ANDDAR Publications, 2011. ISBN 1-4662-9210-5