While Mama’s Family will never make any top ten sitcom lists, or be revered for breaking any ground as a sitcom or, hell, for being an entertaining sitcom for that matter, it was still a sitcom I regularly watched as a kid. Which will tell you that I spent most of my childhood without cable TV. Upholding the long-standing tradition of working class/white trash family sitcoms, Mama’s Family also happened to have a wrestling episode that involved Harper matriarch, Thelma, and daughter-in-law Naomi competing inside the ring. The show also decided to go the much more realistic route of having their TV characters, that have never wrestled before, win their matches against seasoned pros. And yet, we still wonder why the WWE books celebrities the way they do.
Before I get into the episode, I just want to point out that this is one of Ron Funches’ favorite wrestling TV episodes.
Back to “Mama Mania”…
It’s just another night at the Harper’s when, in the middle of their macaroni & cheese dinner, Thelma’s son Vint and his nephew Bubba decide to make a break for it to catch their favorite wrestling show. Having been so long since I’ve seen Mama’s Family, I never before realized how similar Vint and former President, George “Dubya” Bush, were. From the grey parted hair to the dimwitted yokel speak, it was hard not to see Bush when the camera closed in on Vint. The sad part is, while one of them was a stupid character on a third-rate sitcom, the other was President of the United States. Anyway, the rest of the family, including nosy neighbor Iola, join Vint and Bubba on the couch to see what all the fuss is about.
Naomi recognizes one of the bumblebee wrestlers to be her former high school fellow cheerleader, Didi Mason. Upon learning that Didi will be wrestling in their town next week, a starstruck Naomi gets in contact with Didi to invite her over to dinner. Vint and Bubba are falling over themselves to impress Didi when they meet her. If you ever saw those ads in the back of certain wrestling magazines for apartment wrestling fetish videos, and wondered who watched those, Bubba and Vint watched those. Didi tells the family that her match might be cancelled on account of her tag team partner being injured. The family immediately suggests Naomi fill in because, why the hell not? Even Didi admits her partner couldn’t wrestle for shit, and was simply there for some much needed eye candy, and Naomi would have no problem filling in for her. The only reasonable person is Thelma, who mentions that the women are professional wrestlers, but what the hell does she know? She’s old.
The family arrives to watch the big televised wrestling match at some high school-looking gym. Where all major wrestling events take place on a sitcom. Luckily for them, Iola’s handmade seat cushions with wrestlers’ faces come in handy so they won’t have to sit on the hard bleachers. Yes, Thelma Harper gets to sit on Hulk Hogan’s face.
The new Queen Bees enter the ring and await the champs, Stereotypical Fat Women Wrestlers 1 & 2. But for the purpose of IMDB credit, Masked Mabel 1 & 2. Like any good old fan, Thelma takes to heckling the wrestlers and we get a bunch of fat and old jokes in rapid succession. Unlike the Masked Mabels, Thelma can’t take the name-calling and gets in the ring. Because spit buckets are common in wrestling, Thelma grabs one that’s nearby and swings it at one of the Mabels, but accidentally knocks out Didi. And we all know where this is headed. With no sign of any general manager or commissioner, the wrestlers are able to book their own matches, and now two inexperienced women are allowed to take the place of actual professional wrestlers.
Surprisingly, this match doesn’t lead to a Mass Transit type of incident. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of typical sitcom wrestling tropes going on. Like, Naomi running away from the Mabels. When Naomi finally tags in Thelma, an old lady who’s supposed to be a grandma and well into her late 60’s/early 70’s, she starts to clean house. Granted, no actual wrestling moves are used on her part. Unless you count turning the Mabels’ horrible excuse for a luchador mask around so that they can’t see, or stomping on their foot like they’re in the middle of a Three Stooges bit, as actual wrestling moves.
Thelma does use a head-butt though. She then kicks one of the Masked Mabels in the butt, which she sells like a damn metal chair to the back. Seriously, the Masked Mabels would give Dolph Ziggler a run for his money the way they sold this beat down. Thelma then Irish whips a woman twice her size into her just as equally big partner, so hard that she knocks them both down and is able to pin them both. And like that, Thelma and Naomi win the match and continue to make a mockery of professional wrestling.