Chiropractor and single father Alan Harper lives in a beachfront house with divorced Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt, who bought the house following the untimely death of Alan's brother, Charlie. As they acclimate to their living arrangement, the tightly wound Alan finds himself taking on a mentor role with Walden, whose lifelong dependence on being taken care of has left him a bit naive. Despite his unsuccessful romantic history, Alan also tries to help Walden overcome his limited experiences with dating. Berta, a sharp-tongued, unapologetic housekeeper, is also featured in the series.
Street-wise Max (Kat Dennings) doesn't expect much from the new waitress at her night job, a rich girl who has reluctantly joined the food service industry after a string of bad luck. But to her surprise, Caroline (Beth Behrs) is a woman of substance and just may be her ticket to success. The two strike up an unlikely friendship after Caroline discovers that Max can bake a mean cupcake, and the women decide if they can just wrangle up the start-up cash, they may have found their big break. Their co-workers at the diner are boss Han Lee, cook Oleg and cashier Earl.
Mike, a Chicago police officer, meets fourth-grade teacher Molly one day when he speaks at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting and they fall in love, thanks in part to their mutual love of pie and the desire to resist it. Both face challenges in their quest to lose weight -- Molly from her slender sister and mother and Mike at the diner where he frequently eats. But having found each other, they will support each other as they try to achieve their goals, be it weight loss or Molly's decision to quit teaching and pursue her dream as a writer.
Mensa-fied best friends and roommates Leonard and Sheldon, physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology, may be able to tell everybody more than they want to know about quantum physics, but getting through most basic social situations, especially ones involving women, totally baffles them. How lucky, then, that babe-alicious waitress/aspiring actress Penny moves in next door. Frequently seen hanging out with Leonard and Sheldon are friends and fellow Caltech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. Will worlds collide? Does Einstein theorize in the woods?
In the 1980s, geeky Adam uses a video camera to document his family's crazy life. His mother, Beverly, is overprotective and lacks boundaries, while his dad has a hot temper and finds it difficult to parent without screaming. Rounding out the clan are Adam's terrifying sister, Erica; his older brother, Barry, who has middle-child syndrome; and the family's beloved grandfather, Al "Pops" Solomon. Pops is responsible for wild antics, including offering drinks to Barry and teaching Adam about the ways of love -- which create more chaos in an already high-strung family.
Mike Baxter is the quintessential man's man. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of room for that at home where he lives with his three daughters and wife, Vanessa. The only other male in the house is his oldest daughter's young son, Boyd. Now, after being a stay-at-home mom for years, Vanessa goes back to work, forcing Mike to take on more parental responsibility than ever before. But his daughters aren't prepared for their old-fashioned, hotheaded patriarch to take over the house. When not at home, Mike is surrounded by men at his job at sporting-goods retailer Outdoor Man, which sells items like guns, jerky and camouflage recliners.
The wealthy town of Westport, Conn., is full of cookie-cutter mommies and their seemingly perfect offspring, but the members of the Otto family can't be counted among them. Confident housewife Katie Otto shares a home with her husband, Jeff, and their three children Taylor, Harrison and Anna-Kat, and while she loves them all dearly, she recognizes they probably aren't going to land themselves in a magazine spread anytime soon. The matriarch knows her family is beautifully flawed, and she's far from sorry.
Accomplished actors Dianne Wiest and James Brolin star as the heads of a large, happy family, in which each member is approaching different milestones. Their eldest daughter, Heather (Betsy Brandt) and her husband consider having another child as they get closer to an empty nest; middle child Matt (Thomas Sadoski) thinks he has found true love; and the youngest of the three siblings, Greg (Colin Hanks) is overwhelmed after having his first child with his wife. Various perspectives are employed as each family member's story unfolds.
Ray Barone is a successful sports writer and family man who deals with a brother and parents -- who happen to live across the street. Mom Marie loves to meddle in his life, while older brother Robert sometimes resents his success, and Dad Frank just makes comments and raids the fridge. Nevertheless, Ray manages to keep a bright outlook and a sense of humor, leaving the hard issues to his more-practical wife, Debra.
Told from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker, the series offers an honest, often-hilarious perspective of family life. Parents Phil and Claire yearn for an honest, open relationship with their three kids. But a daughter who is trying to grow up too fast, another who is too smart for her own good, and a rambunctious young son make it challenging. Claire's dad, Jay, and his Latina wife, Gloria, are raising two sons together, but people sometimes believe Jay to be Gloria's father. Jay's gay son, Mitchell, and his partner, Cameron, have adopted a little Asian girl, completing one big -- straight, gay, multicultural, traditional -- happy family.