On This Day: ‘Mama’s Family’ Airs Its Final Episode in 1990

by Madison Miller

Popular American sitcom, “Mama’s Family,” said goodbye to their viewers on this day in 1990.

The final episode of the show was called “Bye Bye Baby.” In this episode, Mama is attempting to calm down Naomi as she’s in the latter part of her pregnancy. She is panicking because Vint is having to leave for work.

Mama begins to tell a story of the day she and Carl had their first baby. She had to take the bus to the hospital because Carl wouldn’t come out of the bathroom. Soon after Naomi goes into labor, but won’t leave for the hospital until she had her hot rollers in her hair. Vint arrives back at home, goes to the car, and crashes it into Mama’s car, and then passes out from his excitement and nervousness.

Mama ends up delivering the baby in the trailer. They end up naming the baby girl Tiffany Thelma. Although it was the final episode, it also showed viewers the beginning of something new for the Harper family.

What Was ‘Mama’s Family?’

“Mama’s Family” was a sitcom that was on from 1983 to 1990, according to IMDB. It starred Vicki Lawrence as Thelma Harper, or Mama. It is a spin-off of comedy sketches called “The Family” that was featured on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Eventually, these same sketches would also be the inspiration behind “Eunice,” the movie and the television series.

The series was canceled after only two seasons after a drastic drop in viewers in 1984. However, two years later the modified series made a return. This time it had higher ratings and was able to last four more seasons.

The show takes place in a suburb of Kansas City. It revolves around the Harper family, as well as neighbors and other extended family members. Mama is the focal point of the show with her abrasive and hilarious commentary. She is also incredibly nurturing at the same time.

Besides playing Mama, Lawrence was also in “Hannah Montana” in a reoccurring guest role, “Great News,” “The Cool Kids,” “Yes, Dear,” and “The Love Boat” amongst many others roles.

Carol Burnett’s Involvement

“The Carol Burnett Show” had a number of comedic sketches over the years. However, not all of them would go on to become popular spin-offs. In fact, viewers partially have Burnett to thank for making “Mama’s Family” and “Eunice” a reality.

The original sketch was in season seven of the show. Burnett disagreed with writers about who should be playing which roles. She opposed everyone and played the daughter, Eunice, while Vicki Lawrence played Mama.

Burnett wanted to make everyone have a Southern accent, although writers felt it would be offensive.

“That’s the way it went on the air because that’s the way Carol wanted to do it. As we all know, they got such a great reaction from the fans that they ended up having to write those sketches over and over again,” Lawrence said, according to MeTV.

Burnett’s changes to the sketch helped it stand out. These were enough to eventually give the sketch its own spotlight. However, Burnett resented Lawrence for taking on the role of Mama on producer Joe Hamilton’s project. Burnett was in the process of divorcing Hamilton.

In her autobiography, Lawrence said that Burnett held that grudge for years and was cold and distant.