The show revolved around Henry and Muriel Rush, owners of a duplex in San Francisco. Henry was a cartoonist who authored a comic strip called Cosmic Cow. Muriel was a freelance photographer, having been a band singer in her earlier days. They had two grown daughters: Brunette-haired Jackie worked for a bank, while the younger Sara, a blond bombshell, attended college.
At the start of the first episode, Jackie and Sara were still living with their parents, an awkwardly cramped arrangement. When the downstairs tenant, a transvestite named Rafkin, died suddenly, Jackie and Sara moved into his gaudily-decorated apartment. Despite the daughters' minor push for independence, Henry proved to be a very protective father and meddled in their affairs constantly.
During the first season, Sara's addle-headed friend Monroe Ficus was added to the cast. Monroe quickly became Henry's principal (if unintended) foil (a "human wrecking ball"). It was the dynamics between Henry and Monroe that would eventually become the core of the show.