Episode |name = Broke |season = 5 |Image=
Eric and Annie's marriage isn't looking so good as they continue to fight about Mary, who is still unemployed and swamped with unpaid bills. The tension soon takes its toll on the whole family, especially when debt collectors start calling the house and making threats. The other kids finally take a dangerous risk to help their sister, but will it be enough to make her face her responsibilities?
Everyone is sitting around the kitchen table eating breakfast and no one is speaking to each other. Annie breaks the silence and tells Lucy to get the twins dressed and the other kids rush away from the table. Eric thinks that they should take action against Mary before she gets too bad.
Eric tells Annie that she needs a job, but Annie realizes that she should get a job that she really loves and she will realize that she can't get a job she loves without education. Annie thinks that she needs to ask for the help, but Eric thinks that they should help her now. Annie asks him what they should do, but Eric doesn't know what they are going to do. Eric decides that he needs to leave the house to runs errands and Annie decides to leave also and leaves Lucy in charge of the getting the kids ready.
At home, Lucy gets a phone call from a lady who wants to speak to Mary, but when she won't tell Lucy who she is, Lucy hangs up on her. The lady calls back and speaks to Simon who gives the phone to Lucy. When Lucy explains that she is not Mary, the lady doesn't believe her and continues to tell her that she couldn't pay her credit card company. Lucy gets upset when she asks the lady if there is anything she can do to convince her that she is not Mary.
Sergeant Michaels holds a meeting with other police officers and one of the police officers talks to Sergeant Michaels about letting someone go who was drinking that turns out to be Mary. John is pacing in the apartment and it is making Matt go crazy. Matt wants to know why he is mad, but John tells him that he knows something about Mary. John tells Matt that she tried to borrow money from John, but he feels guilty for not helping her. John also tells Matt that he saw her hanging out with a couple of losers that were drinking beer. Matt doesn't know what he is going to do about Mary.
Hank sees Eric at the hospital and notices that Eric is stressed. Mary is at the ATM and she doesn't have money available at her bank. She keeps trying several different cards, but the man behind her wants her to leave and offers her $5 to get out of line. At the store, Annie meets up with Mark Johnson who tells Annie that Mary can't drive her car without insurance since they had to cancel her insurance since she didn't pay for it.
When Mary shows up at the house, Lucy confronts Mary about the lady at the credit card company and tells her that she needs to pay her bill. Mary asks her for $50 to pay her bill, but Mary gets upset that she won't lend her any money. Mary leaves saying that she knows where she can get $50 from. Simon tells Mary that he won't lend her any money, but Mary tries to coax her into giving her money.
Simon tells her that it is not his problem and is concerned that she has a credit card. The phone rings and Lucy hands Mary the phone to talk to the collection agency, but Mary hangs up on them. Ruthie tells Mary that she has $20 from her birthday money, but Mary tells her that she needs more money than $20. Mary decides to take the money and pay the credit card lady. Mary leaves the room and tells Ruthie that she is going to pay the credit card company, but leaves without answering the phone. Simon answers the phone and the lady tells him that they are going to take legal action against Mary if she doesn't pay the bill by the end of the day.
Matt talks to the kids about what they should do and the kids tell Matt that Eric and Annie have been fighting about Mary. Annie calls and asks for Eric and then for Mary, but when Lucy tells her that Mary is looking for a job, she hangs up. Matt finds out about Mary's poor work history and is disappointed. Mary arrives at the movie theater and buys a ticket for the double feature.
At the pool hall, Annie asks for Eric, but he isn't there and the bartender offers Annie a drink. The bartender tells Annie that Mary was fired, but she tells him that Mary told them that she quit. The bartender explains that Mary was on the phone all of the time and other people had to cover her shift. She was talking to bill collectors constantly and didn't do her job, so the manager had to fire her. He also tells Annie that some of the waitresses loaned her money.
The kids are in the kitchen and when the phone rings, the kids don't want to answer the phone. Eric is on the other line and asks for Annie or Mary. Sergeant Michaels finds Eric at a restaurant and tells him about the incident with Mary drinking and driving. Eric is surprised. Mary is in the movie theater while the phone keeps ringing at the house. When Lucy finally answers the phone, the collection agency lady talks to Matt who imitates an attorney and tells her that Mary won't give them any money.
Matt tells them that he can't do it again and they all don't know what to do. Ruthie suggests that they can give Mary the twins' money when no one else has any money. Sergeant Michaels leaves the restaurant and the manager at the restaurant tells Eric that he fired her since Mary started hanging out with Johnny and Frankie and drinking after hours. He tells Eric that Mary is hanging out with the wrong crowd even if Johnny is his nephew. Eric tells him that he forbid them to hang out together.
The manager tells Eric that Mary was hanging out with them a few days ago. Annie calls the dealership to see if Mary has paid her car payment and the car salesman tells her that she needs to come up with $300 in 3 days. The kids stand around the twins' piggy banks and decide on whether they should take the money or not. Ruthie tells them that Mary won't let them down. Mary walks out of the movie theater with her last $5 and decides to buy ice cream.
The kids are waiting at home and Matt yells at her about not paying her bills. Mary tells Matt to calm down, but the collection agency lady calls and when Matt is pretending to be Bernie again, Mary tells him that she has no money. The rest of the kids walk in and tell her that they got the money from the twins' piggy banks and that Mary is going to go pay the money directly to the people that she owes it to. Matt tells her to get a job to pay back the money. Mary tells them that they can count on her and walks out. Annie rushes to the hospital and finds Hank and asks him where Eric is. Hank decides to talk to her.
Eric calls the house and tells Ruthie that they have to keep Mary at the house. Eric is at Julie's house and lays down on the couch and tells her that Mary lied to her about everything. Annie discusses Mary with Hank at the same time about fighting about Mary and her lying to them. They both ask Hank and Julie how Mary was when she babysat for them. Matt leaves the house and tells Lucy that Mary will definitely pay the twins back and Ruthie suggests that she wouldn't lie to family.
At the bank, Mary is offered a credit line increase and takes the offer. Ruthie asks Simon about what happens if Eric or Annie pick up the piggy banks and find them empty. Ruthie explains that Annie puts the money into the piggy banks on the 14th, so Mary has a week to replace the money. At the car dealership, Mary is offered to extend the loan terms and Mary accepts.
Annie calls Julie, who gives the phone to Eric and they apologize at the same time. They decide to meet at the house and when he gets off of the phone, Julie apologizes to Eric for trusting Mary. At the insurance agency, Mary tries to extend the length of the payments, but fails to do so. On the way out of the agency, Mary stops by a shop that has a help wanted sign in the window.
Mary is talking to the owner of the book store and gets hired as a counter-person. When Mary walks out, the owner's wife walks in and tells him that she can't work there. Annie gets home and worries about what happened since the kids look weird. Ruthie tells Annie that Matt stopped by, but he isn't there anymore. Lucy offers that Mary is paying bills, but Annie gets suspicious when Mary doesn't have any money to pay the bills.
Annie asks who loaned her the money, but they all say that they didn't loan her anything. Eric walks in the kitchen and they fill each other in on what they found about Mary during the day. They decide that they are going to confront Mary and they have to help her. John finds Matt at the hospital and Matt tells him that he doesn't know what is going to happen with Mary. Eric and Annie confront Mary about her problems, but Mary stops them and tells them that she paid her bills and found a new job. Mary vows to show them how responsible she can be.
Eric and Annie realize that Mary is lying about everything, but they need to come up with a plan on how to deal with her. Mary walks into her room and Lucy starts griping at her for having to deal with Mary's money problems. Mary apologizes to Lucy and tells her that she isn't going to tell her any more lies. Mary answers the phone and the bookstore owner tells her that she doesn't have a job anymore. Mary then lies to Lucy and tells her that it was a wrong number.
- NITPICK: During the middle of the episode, while the kids are trying to figure out when Annie will be putting the money into the bank next, Simon says it is the sixth. This episode originally aired on November 6, 2000. It was a Monday, which would mean that Simon, Lucy, and Ruthie should have been at school. It may have been a district-wide teacher's professional day where the kids have the day off while teachers attend meetings. That happened a lot in earlier seasons.
- Simon: (when Mary wants to borrow money) No, no, no!
- Mary: I will drive you on dates or anywhere you want to go.
- Simon: Your car seats two. Where's my date supposed to sit? In the trunk?
- Simon: What are we gonna do about this?
- Lucy: We're gonna let Mary handle it. It's her problem, not ours.
- Ruthie: Please don't let them put Mary in jail again.
- Simon: You say to let Mary handle it, but she's not. We're the ones getting the calls, and sooner or later Mom and Dad are gonna find out. And deadbeat or not, she's still our sister.
- Lucy: (to Mary) See the trick isn't getting the job, it's keeping the job.
- Mary: Why are you so snotty?
- Lucy: Considering I spent the day dodging creditors and breaking into piggy banks, I think I'm entitled to be a little snotty.
- Simon: This isn't Mary. I'm her brother Simon.
- Bill Collector: Well, when Mary gets in, would you tell her that if she doesn't pay these bills immediately, we will involve the local authorities.
- Simon: Wait, you mean the police?
- Bill Collector: Yes. You can't just charge for merchandise and not pay your bills; there are laws. And if we have to, we'll enforce those laws to recoup our losses.
- Matt: This is Bernie, Mary Camden's attorney.
- Credit Card Collector: Mary Camden can't afford to pay a $50 bill but she has an attorney?
- Simon: (talking about Ruthie) I wish I had as much faith in Mary as her.
- Lucy: Me too.
- Eric: You know, she quit her job at the pool hall, she quit her job at Pete's Pizza. She doesn't have any friends--well, not any good ones. She needs a job.
- Annie: Yes, Mary needs a job, and money, and friends: good ones. But she has bills to pay. She also needs to take a job to pay those bills. And the job she takes probably won't be a job she loves or even likes. And then she'll see how important it is to have a job you love. And jobs people love usually involve training and/or education. That will force her to set goals and move forward
- Eric: Are you just going to will her into this realization?
- Annie: She's not on our schedule. We need to give her time. She'll realize it when she realizes it.
- Eric: In the meantime, no job plus no money equals no car, right? I mean, if she can't pay for the car, she'll lose it.
- Annie: So let her lose the car.
- Eric: This isn't about losing Mary's car. This is about losing Mary!
- Annie: You think I don't know that? You know, just because I'm not a minister or a therapist doesn't mean I don't know when she's in trouble. I'm her mother! And I think she needs to be the one to ask for help, and she's not ready yet!
- Eric: Well, I'm her father, and I say she needs help now, whether she asks for it or not!
- Annie: What you mean to say is that you're the expert, and what you say goes!
- Annie: (about Mary) Okay, let's say we do it your way. We don't wait. We do something. What "something" do we do?
- Eric: I don't know. (Annie sighs) I don't know!
- Annie: You help people with their problems every day, and when it comes to our family and our kids, you don't know what we should do?!
- Eric: No, I don't.
- Annie: Watch the kids.
- Lucy: Okay.
- Annie: Your father and I are going out.
- Eric: Separately.
- Annie: Oh, most definitely separately!
- Mary [to Lucy]: I'm sorry. I haven't been completely honest with you. But from now on no more lies. Yes, honesty is my new policy. [The phone rings and Mary gets fired]
- Lucy: Who was that?
- Mary: Wrong number.