To Mother Buchanan's initial delight, Bree joins the Buchanan clan. Her three sisters-in-law-to-be are initially displeased with her tacky antics and naivety, which have Mother Buchanan thinking she can control her new daughter-in-law. But when Bree politely refuses to wear Mother Buchanan's wedding dress, the war is on! It's up to Alex, Vivian, and Delilah to explain to the girl the inner workings of the family. Alex explains that Mother Buchanan would qualify for sainthood if it weren't for one tiny factor: ""she's a bitch!""
When newlywed Bree's lovelife becomes non-existant (since her husband, Jesse, can't get aroused in the same house with his mother), they decide to stay with Alex. This invigorates their sex life temporarily, but Jesse soon begins leaving the house early and coming home late, leading to suspician that he's with another woman. But no one ever dreamed that the other woman would be Mother Buchanan!
When an old beau reappears, Vivian has doubts about her marriage. So she agrees to go out to dinner with Clyde -- and is caught kissing him at the restaurant by Mother Buchanan. Meanwhile, Bree takes a job at the family store and finds herself exuberantly competing with Alex and Delilah to sell the most merchandise.
When Bree receives a belated engagement ring from Jesse, she's ecstatic -- until she learns that it's not a real stone. One by one, each of the sisters-in-law come to realize that their rings aren't real either. The husbands are on a fishing trip together and can't be reached, but when they reveal the secret of their rings to Mother Buchanan, she makes a revelation of her own.
When one of the locals learns about Delilah's shady past as a stripper, it threatens her husband's job as a minister and her chances to become the president of the ladies auxiliary. So, it's up to Mother Buchanan to clear Delilah's name. Meanwhile, Vivian schemes to become vice president of the auxiliary... no matter who wins the presidency.
Bree's trashy mother, Tink, comes to visit and convinces the newlyweds to move back to California with her - inciting the wrath of Mother Buchanan. Meanwhile, Vivian reluctantly begins working for Alex to raise the funds for a dress to wear to a swank dinner party that Dan Quayle is also attending.
Alex is embarrassed when she's reunited, on a talk-show, with two activist friends from college whose lives and careers continue to be dedicated to womens issues. Feeling inadequate, Alex stages a womens group meeting in Mercy.
The rest of the Buchanan ladies weasel their way out of babysitting Vivian's destructive twins, Lyndon and P.J., while she goes to the salon, so it's up to vulnerable Bree to watch them. But Bree quickly finds herself being terrorized by the twins, so the sisters-in-law encourage Vivian to discipline them, which Vivian does... only to wind up in jail for child abuse.
Delilah is overjoyed thinking that she's pregnant, but a trip to the doctor leaves her fearing that she can never have a child.... so she tries to pressure one of her sisters-in-law into being a surrogate mother. Meanwhile, Mother Buchanan pressures an unwilling Bree to have a baby of her own.
When a new baker sets up shop in town and tries to woo Mother Buchanan, the ladies think that this could be the answer to their prayers -- if they can get him together with Mother Buchanan, it will keep the family matriarch out of their hair! All goes according to plan until Delilah discovers that Mother Buchanan's boyfriend may already be married.
When Alex accidentally breaks Emma's prized ceramic baby Jesus statue, there's hell to pay! Rather than telling her mother-in-law the truth, Alex decides to try to replace the hand-painted heirloom. Meanwhile, Bree goes all-out decorating Alex's house for Christmas to win a contest.
Alex's dog, Petey, who was lost on a trip to the Grand Canyon, finds his way home -- just in time to die. Though Alex spent all the time he was gone blaming Mother Buchanan for his escape, Delilah makes a new revealation at his funeral.
Vivian holds auditions for a local stage play of ""The Sound of Music."" Delilah has her heart set on getting the part of Maria, but Bree makes ""Julie Andrews look like a two-bit lounge singer."" Meanwhile, Mother Buchanan agrees to play the role of the mother superior -- if she can sing ""Eidelweiss."" But Emma has her restraints about working with Hubert Lombard, who's playing the part of Captain Von Trapp. And when no one's around, Alex, who once sang ""Happy Birthday"" off key (and keeps being reminded of this), does some incredible vocal work of her own.
Alex encourages Roy to drop out of an alumni football game, despite the urging of Mother Buchanan, who wants her son to uphold the family tradition. After Roy follows his mother's wishes, he sustains a mild heart attack on the field and Mother Buchanan reveals a secret to her daughters-in-law that threatens to destroy her own relationship with Alex. Meanwhile, Bree acts as cheerleader for the home team.
While preparing for a family portrait, Mother Buchanan insists that Bree stands on the left, so she can be cropped out of the picture if her marriage doesn't work. Horrified, Bree goes to her sisters-in-law for advice, and they each reveal how they became Buchanans. Alex, who was still a hippy protestor, got in good with Emma's mother-in-law; Vivian only got to marry Ed because she was pregnant; and Delilah married Charles, since she thought he was her ""guardian angel.""
Delilah has plans to audition for Jeopardy, but her plans are altered when Mother Buchanan announces that a realitive (that none of the daughters-in-law knew) has died, and the ladies have to attend her funeral. But a few surprises lay in store for the ladies. First, Alex gets a speeding ticket. Then, during a break at a truck stop, Alex's car, Beeb, gets stolen. And when they finally arrive at the funeral home, they find out that the funeral's been postponed until the next day, so they're forced to spend the night in a sleazy hotel. After a night of catfights there was one detail that Mother Buchanan neglected to mention -- Great Aunt Velma was housebound and had to be buried in a packing crate because of her weight.
On Ed's birthday, Vivian plans to give her annual gift of a night full of passion, but her plans are thwarted when Ed falls asleep and has an erotic dream about Delilah. Fearing that the romance has drained out of her marriage, Vivian is encouraged by her sisters-in-law to join them at a ""naughty nighties"" party, where she can acquire items to spice up her marriage. Meanwhile, Bree feels self-conscious and insists to everyone that she is better looking than Delilah.