Based on a series of sketches from The Carol Burnett Show, Mama's Family mined humor from a squabbling family in the Midwestern blue collar suburb of Raytown. The noisy clan was headed by Mama, a buxom, gray-haired widow with sharp opinions and a sharper tongue who shared her small house with her high-strung sister Fran. Mama's lazy, dimwitted son, Vinton, moved in at the start of the series with his troublesome teenage children, Buzz and Sonja, after his wife had run off to become a Las Vegas showgirl. Vint soon became romantically involved with Naomi, Mama's promiscuous next-door neighbor, and the two eventually were married. Further uproar was caused by the periodic visits from Mama's two married daughters, the foul mouthed Eunice and the snobbish Ellen.
Though the series initially ran for only two seasons on NBC, producer Joe Hamilton revived the series for first-run syndication in 1986. The show's "second life" brought about several changes, including the absence of such characters as Aunt Fran (who had died by choking on a toothpick), Buzz and Sonja (who had gone off to college), and Eunice, who had moved with her husband Ed to Florida... without telling their son Bubba, just as he was being released from juvenile hall. As a result, Bubba moved into the household with Mama, Vint and Naomi as a new character. Also joining the cast was Iola, Mama's uptight spinster neighbor with an unrequited crush on Vint. This second run was considerably more successful than the first, ending in 1990.