Every member of the family is fed up with having to drive Thelma everywhere. Each one takes turns trying to teach 63 year old Thelma to drive. The results of each effort are worse than the last and Thelma's ready to call it quits! That is,until she gets a call from a hat shop saying if she doesn't get there by 12pm,they'll sell it to someone else. She eyes Fran's (Rue McLanahan)car keys and gets in her car outside. Will she make it and finally try to get her license? (In the outside shot we see Iola's mother Mrs. Boylen for the only time in the series).
Thelma gets her purse snatched at a bus stop in broad daylight,which at first shakes her up badly enough to not want to report it. After the initial shock wears off though,she's boiling mad and calls the police and then takes a self-defense/karate course with Naomi,Fran & Sonja. Will Mama get even or will the bad guy get away?
Even though Thelma went the distance to get her drivers license,she still is at the mercy of having to borrow family members' cars. She lets Fran know that she has some "mad money" saved up and is going to buy herself a car. She finds a dealer,who turns out to be one of the former neighborhood kids that she used to give cookies to. He has unfortunately has grown up into a sleazy used car dealer and does not hesitate to sell her a true "lemon" and take her money! ...but just watch how Mama "switches gears' on him!
While shopping for the family at Food Circus,Thelma gets into a "tiff" with cashier Naomi. Mama feels she knows more about the store since she's been shopping there for nearly 40 years,even so far as to give other customers advice and basically making Naomi look foolish. The manager of the store hires Mama and places her in a booth where people can "Ask Thelma" for shopping advice. Right next to Naomi's express register! She does so well,the manager then goes too far and gives Naomi's spot to Thelma. Mama's got a surprise in store for her for thinking she knows it all...
To celebrate their first anniversary, Vint and Naomi plan a honeymoon weekend at a fancy motel. But they don't count on Mama's barging in them after having had a fight with Aunt Effie -- and having nowhere else to stay.
This part 1 of,one of the funniest episodes of the NBC run. Thelma and others are becoming fed-up with the way Tutwiller is doing very little as the Mayor of Raytown. Her daughter Ellen is dating him and wants Mama to keep her opinions to herself. Things come to a hilarious finish at the end of this part when Thelma,who has stated she couldn't do much worse,is asked by a reporter on her front lawn,"Are you running for Mayor Mrs. Harper". Ellen buts in saying she's not but Thelma not liking being spoken for says,"The h*** I'm not,into the camera.
In part 2,Thelma has successfully unseated Mayor Tutwiller from office. Altough she starts off okay,she soon discovers there's more to being Mayor than she thought. Her attempts at holding meetings are hilarious! She realizes she's not as qualified as she thought herself to be and soon almost the whole town is against her. Mama has to swallow her pride and admit she's failed but how can she undo this fiasco? Surprsingly,daughter Ellen has the answer!
Mama's carpet cleaner has had it, so she uses Naomi's instead. Unfortunately, a key Naomi has lost gets stuck in the gears and ends up wrecking Mama's rug, which has been in the family for generations. The two, naturally, blame each other and decide to take the matter to court. Mama overdoes it making the judge annoyed and Naomi is just as bad. The two bicker in court, leading the judge to the obvious resolution to the problem.
The poignancy which had marked "Eunice" two years earlier and turned up a few times during the NBC run (causing TV Guide to label this as a "comedy-drama" during its first season) resurfaces again as Mama's birthday causes her to remember the day she turned 30. As the "responsible" family lady, she even then had to put her dreams on hold and cater to her own mama (Vicki Lawrence plays both roles). There is a sense of hope here so lacking in the "Eunice" special.
Carl's brother, Roy, returns for a visit after many years at sea. He convinces each family member to pursue an individual dream, no matter how unrealistic it may appear to be. Mama thinks that Roy's attitude is disrupting the household, and would prefer to leave things as they are.