The Mothers-in-Law

Cast of the TV show, The Mothers-in-Law
The cliche of the mother-in-law joke was taken a step further in 1967, with the creation of the TV sit-com, The Mothers-in-Law. What could be funnier than one-annoying mother-in-law? Why, two of course! Add some newly-weds and a couple of diametrically opposed husbands and you have the skeleton of a story-line, fleshed out each week by a series of meddling mishaps, disagreements and conflicts.

Opposing Forces
Deborah Walley
Mothers-in-Law has a solid cast and veteran Eve Arden is particularly good. Arden had made a specialty on film of playing the wise-cracking, amusingly cynical gal in support roles in the 40s and 50s and she is always engaging on screen. First names were used for the parents - Arden plays respectable Eve Hubbard, wife of Herb the conservative lawyer, played by stage and screen veteran, Herbert Rudley.Rudley was often typecast as the 'successful professional' and had appeared on The Beverly Hillbillies in 1963, playing a psychiatrist. Their girl -next-door (literally) grown daughter Suzie is played by Deborah Walley, who had featured in the title role of the 1964 teen TV show Karen.

The less conventional Buells live next door and are quite friendly with the Hubbard's, despite age and temperament differences. Volatile Italian, Kaye Buells, is played with enthusiasm by comedienne Kaye Ballard and the chemistry between the two mothers is amusing to watch. Kaye's work-at-home, scriptwriter husband Roger Buells, is played by a flamboyant Roger C Carmel, who dropped out of the series after the first season due to a salary dispute and was replaced by Richard Deacon, who had worked on Leave it to Beaver. The Buells have a son Jerry, played by Jerry Fogel, who falls in love and eventually elopes with the Hubbard's daughter and the couple move into a garage apartment apartment at the Hubbard's  thus providing the suitably comic in-law premise for the show.

Kaye, Suzie, Jerry and Eve
The kids are largely just vehicles for the real interplay, which is between the four mature adults, their marital conflicts, differences of opinion and mutual recriminations over the constant interfering by the two mothers. Mothers-in-law has its amusing moments and managed to last for two seasons in the cutthroat world of TV sit-com. It's success, albeit transient, lay in some better than average scriptwriting and the comedic skills of the four leads, all of whom seem to be having tremendous fun with their respective roles. In an age of TV talking horses, charismatic martians and teenage hi jinks, The Mothers-in-Law provided some comic fare and viewer identification for older audiences.

The Mothers-in-Law, which ran from 1967 to 68, was the brain child of Bob Carroll Jr and Madelaine Davis, who also wrote the scripts for I love Lucy and the series was produced by a post-Lucy Desi Arnez, who made an occasional appearance in the show as a Spanish matador, Raphael de Gardo.

At the time of its release, the show had a Sunday night time slot, up against TV fixtures Bonanza and The Wonderful World of Disney, which may help to explain its short run.