Home Television Comedy Grace Under Fire

Grace Under Fire

1 9 9 3 – 1 9 9 8 (USA)
112 x 30 minute episodes

Comedienne Brett Butler played Grace Kelly, a bullish, wheedling, working-class woman and recovering alcoholic who had just broken up with her physically abusive husband after eight years of marriage.

Grace referred to her ex-husband as a “knuckle-dragging, cousin-loving, beer-sucking redneck” and had decided it would be better to raise her three children by herself than to continue to be abused by her no-good husband, Jim – who only periodically showed up in the series, and was played by Geoff Pierson.


The three children – troublesome eldest child Quentin, tomboy Elizabeth (nicknamed ‘Libby’) and Patrick – were played by Jon Paul Steuer (and then Sam Horrigan), Kaitlin Cullum and twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse.

Grace found a job working at an oil refinery in Victory, Missouri and had a boyfriend, Rick Bradshaw (Alan Autry), a refinery executive.

When Grace and Rick eventually broke up (when he moved to Alaska for a higher-paying job), Grace began to date other men and enrolled in night school to better herself.

Wade and Nadine Swoboda lived next door to Grace. Wade had served as a marine during the Vietnam War and was called “Wade the Impaler”. He worked as a telephone lineman, a traffic reporter for KPLG radio, a helicopter reporter for KQMO-TV Channel 6, and then as an officer with the Sixth District of the Victory Police Department.

Nadine – who was also Grace’s best friend – was a waitress at Stevie Ray’s Bar. Although it appeared that Nadine and Wade were a good couple, Nadine left him during the final season to move to Colorado, leaving Wade to fend for himself.

The series was suddenly cancelled in the middle of the 97-98 season amid rumours that Brett Butler was losing control of herself on the set and finding it increasingly difficult to make rational decisions because of excessive drinking and overwork.

When the series was aired on British TV, it was described as the most abrasive, uncompromising American comedy around. Significantly, for all its much-touted post-feminist agenda, it was also full of belly laughs.

Grace Kelly
Brett Butler
Quentin Kelly
Jon Paul Steuer (1)
Sam Horrigan (2)
Elizabeth ‘Libby’ Kelly
Kaitlin Cullum
Patrick Kelly
Dylan Sprouse (1)
Cole Sprouse (2)
Russell Norton
Dave Thomas
Wade Swoboda
Casey Sander
Nadine Swoboda
Julie White
Jean Kelly
Peggy Rea
Jim Kelly
Geoff Pierson
Rick Bradshaw
Alan Autry