Warner Brothers

Its ''silly'' nature is why people loved, and still love Mama's Family

Whether it was the witty thoughts to herself or the endless arguments with the family, Vicki Lawrence's character of Mama Harper is one that will always stand out when reflecting on the career of the famed actress. 

Mama's Family is a show that has been popular since its inception as a sketch on The Carol Burnett Show

Lawrence played Thelma Harper, who somehow has captivated generations of viewers since the show went off the air. Though the series itself began in the early Eighties, "The Family" sketches on The Carol Burnett Show were a big hit.

The Mama's actress said there's just something about that Southern/Midwest accent and attitude that resonated with so many viewers. 

"[Mama's Family] was set in some sort of time warp," Lawrence laughed during a 2011 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, referencing how a show from the '80s is still deemed funny and relevant today. "Everybody knows her. Everybody has a 'Mama' in their family. I've often said I think she's like Archie Bunker in that we all know him, we all have one of him in our family... I think Mama's the same way."

Combine the familiarity to countless fans with the simple genius of the series. There wasn't anything hostile or overwhelming about the series, and when an episode pops up, viewers can just relax and laugh.

"It's just silly and those are some of our favorite shows to sit back and watch. You don't have to think about Mama's Family. There's nothing sexual, there's nothing dark, there's nothing cynical, there's no message. It's just silly, good laughing for no good reason. You feel like you were there when you watch it, because you pretty much were... There's nothing fixed about it."

Lawrence's character always had spunk and certainly had attitude, but that doesn't mean Thelma Harper didn't change throughout the series. Fans may have noticed Thelma Harper's intensity rise as the show went on. It's because Lawrence put a lot of work and effort into the character as she became more comfortable in the role. 

"I was trying to do an older version of Eunice but I would say Mama... matured and got much deeper and more wonderful as a character as I found her and embraced her. I think she's gotten much better with age."

That doesn't mean she got nicer, necessarily.

"She was a mean old lady," Lawrence said, before confirming again, "she was a mean old lady."

By using our site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy