Nicholas Fonseca
September 22, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Why you should buy ”Mama’s Family” on DVD

This marks the second time that I’ve endorsed the raucous ’80s sitcom Mama’s Family in the pages of EW. Respect from my co-workers dissipated long ago; at this point, my insistence that Vicki Lawrence gives a legendary performance as Thelma ”Mama” Harper is looking like career suicide — mine, not hers. Why is Mama’s Family, whose first season is now on DVD, such a polarizing show? It can’t be the pedigree: Born of a long-running Carol Burnett Show sketch, it boasts wicked one-liners and zippy performances from Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman, and Betty White. But the cornpone premise — Mama heads a house of fools, grows agitated at their needy behavior, blows her fuse — irritated some viewers, who were baffled by its four-year afterlife in first-run syndication. Maybe that explains the ire. Mama’s Family — like The Love Boat, I Dream of Jeannie, and The King of Queens — is a TV cockroach, stoking naysayers’ rage with its stubborn simplicity, all while subversively cultivating a devoted fan base. Me? I just think the old broad’s a hoot.

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