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The 5 Mrs. Buchanans

The 5 Mrs. Buchanans is an American television sitcom that aired on CBS from September 24, 1994 to March 25, 1995. Set in the fictional town of Mercy, Indiana, the show centers on the small-town misadventures of four disparate women with one thing in common: their loathing for their monster of a mother-in-law.

The 5 Mrs. Buchanans
GenreSituation comedy
Created by
Composer(s)Steven Cahill
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes17
Production location(s)Fox Television Center
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)
Original networkCBS
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1994 (1994-09-24) –
March 25, 1995 (1995-03-25)



The unofficial leader of the group is Alex (Judith Ivey), a 1960s crusader who settled down and had a son soon after marrying future high school principal Roy Buchanan (John Getz). Everyone regularly convenes in their home and at the thrift store that she owns. Vivian (Harriet Sansom Harris) is trapped in a stagnant marriage to used car salesman Ed Buchanan (Richard Poe), which is exacerbated by their hellion twin sons. Delilah (Beth Broderick) is a sweet, ditsy former stripper from the South who fell in love with preacher Charles Buchanan (Mark Moses). These ladies are pulled together for various family and social functions, and they've forged deep bonds despite their distinctively different personalities. New to the family is Bree (Charlotte Ross), a perky, manipulative former Disneyland employee who had a whirlwind romance with Jesse Buchanan (Tommy Hinkley) during his vacation at the theme park. And always meddling in their lives is Mother Buchanan (Eileen Heckart), a gravely-voiced, stoic, passive-aggressive gargoyle of a woman who commands the ceaseless devotion and adoration of her four sons.



  • Judith Ivey as Alexandria "Alex" Isaacson Buchanan – A former feminist from a Jewish family in New York, she owns an antique store. Married to Roy Buchanan, the eldest son. She is the oldest of the four women, and usually the most level-headed and mature. Her relationship with Mother Buchanan ranges from the civil, to absolute hatred, which, when coupled with snide remarks on both parts, makes for an amusing battleground.
  • Beth Broderick as Delilah Buchanan – Originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, she is portrayed as a 'blonde' stereotype; ditzy, usually wearing lots of make-up and revealing clothing. She is married to Charles, the preacher, and becomes Head of the Ladies Auxiliary. Her dimness often evokes exasperation in the other women, however, she maintains a close relationship with each. Her past as a stripper often causes obstacles, but her caring nature serves to resolve them.
  • Harriet Sansom Harris as Vivian Buchanan – A Republican housewife with two hooligan children (Lyndon and PJ), from her marriage to Ed Buchanan, she is shown as being rather neurotic, and narcissistic. She sometimes clashes with the politically liberal Alex but they generally get along. Her extreme antics (such as selling pints of her own blood to buy a dress for a Dan Quayle dinner) are often a point of humor. Her relationship with Mother Buchanan is shown to be the most antagonistic.
  • Charlotte Ross as Bree Larson Buchanan – A Californian and ex-Disneyland worker, her whirlwind romance and marriage to Jesse serves as the opening of the series. Characterized as quite naive and childish, she displays overt vanity, which, when coupled with her superb performance skills and fascination with dead bodies, makes for comedy. Eventually becoming a core part of the family, she succeeds in gaining the ladies' respect by standing with them against Mother Buchanan.
  • Eileen Heckart as "Mother" Emma Buchanan – A former aspiring doctor who was forced to raise her four sons alone after her husband left her, she uses this as a vehicle to fuel her manipulation and dislike of her daughters-in-law. While she is displayed as the hardened and merciless matriarch, her compassionate side is shown throughout the series, proving that under her tough exterior, she is ultimately a mother, something to which all the women can relate.



No.TitleDirected by [1]Written byOriginal air dateProd.
code [1]
1"Pilot"David TrainerJamie Wooten & Marc CherrySeptember 24, 1994 (1994-09-24)100
Alexandria, Vivian, and Delilah Buchanan, married to three of four brothers, welcome their soon-to-be sister in law, Bree, to the family. Their hated mother in law, Emma Buchanan, is delighted with Bree—until she declines wearing Mother Buchanan's wedding dress.
2"The Other Woman"David TrainerJamie Wooten & Marc CherryOctober 1, 1994 (1994-10-01)101
Bree comes to suspect that Jesse is secretly spending time with another woman. When it turns out to be Mother Buchanan, the ladies coach Bree to confront her.
3"Clyde and Vivian and Ed and Malice"David TrainerJohn Pardee & Joey MurphyOctober 8, 1994 (1994-10-08)103
Feeling that the romance is gone from her marriage to Ed, Vivian considers an affair with her cultured college boyfriend.
4"A Ring of Truth"Linda DayJohn PardeeOctober 15, 1994 (1994-10-15)104
5"Nothing on Delilah"Philip Charles MacKenzieDavid FlebotteOctober 22, 1994 (1994-10-22)102
6"The Mothers-in-Law"Linda DayTracy Gamble & Richard VaczyOctober 29, 1994 (1994-10-29)105
7"Alex, Then and NOW"Linda DayJenny BicksOctober 31, 1994 (1994-10-31)107
Note: Aired on Monday.
8"Spare the Rod, Spoil the Buchanan"John SguegliaNancylee MyattNovember 16, 1994 (1994-11-16)109
Note: Aired on Wednesday.
9"Five Buchanans and a Baby"Linda DayTracy Gamble & Richard VaczyNovember 26, 1994 (1994-11-26)106
10"Emma in Love"John SguegliaTracy Gamble & Richard VaczyDecember 3, 1994 (1994-12-03)111
11"What Child Is This"Linda DayMichael Patrick KingDecember 10, 1994 (1994-12-10)112
12"The Incredible Journey"Linda DayJoey Murphy & John PardeeDecember 17, 1994 (1994-12-17)113
13"All About Bree"Linda DayLyn Greene & Richard LevineJanuary 7, 1995 (1995-01-07)114
14"The Heart of the Matter"David TrainerNancylee MyattJanuary 14, 1995 (1995-01-14)110
15"Becoming a Buchanan"John SguegliaNancylee MyattJanuary 21, 1995 (1995-01-21)115
16"Never on the Road Again"Linda DayDavid FlebotteMarch 11, 1995 (1995-03-11)116
17"Viv'acious"Linda DayDavid FlebotteMarch 18, 1995 (1995-03-18)108

The 5 Mrs. Buchanans regularly aired on Saturday nights on CBS, though one episode of the series aired as part of CBS's Monday night comedy lineup, and another episode aired on a Wednesday.


Original unaired pilot: The Four Mrs. Buchanans

The show was titled The Four Mrs. Buchanans in the original series pilot, referring to only the four daughters-in-law. The opening scene was completely revised and reshot and a pair of jokes about Delilah's skimpy dress were replaced with alternate one-liners about her heavy makeup when the pilot was broadcast as The 5 Mrs. Buchanans.

With an initial series order of 13 episodes, shortly after its premiere CBS announced it had given the series a five-episode pick-up. However, only 17 episodes were aired and are known to have been produced.

Eileen Heckart stated in an interview at the time that CBS had picked up more episodes of the show with the intention of moving it from Saturday nights, where it was faltering, to Mondays following Murphy Brown. The network ultimately changed its mind after ordering Cybill as a mid-season replacement, though the seventh episode of The 5 Mrs. Buchanans did air once in this timeslot as a "special preview" on October 31, 1994.


  1. ^ a b From the United States Copyright Office catalog: "Public Catalog - Copyright Catalog (1978 to present) - Basic Search [search: "5 Mrs. Buchanans"]"". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 2017-07-30.

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