The show portrays Ann Romano, a woman who felt that she had always been either someone's daughter, wife, or mother and wanted to "find herself." She divorces her husband and moves to Indianapolis with her two daughters, seventeen-year-old Julie, the older, more rebellious/offensive one, and the more-mature fifteen-year-old Barbara.
The theme of the series rests on Ann's desire to prove that she can live and raise her children independently. She is helped by Dwayne Schneider, often referred to only by his last name, who is the superintendent of Ann's apartment building. His "drop-in" visits are so frequent that he is effectively an unofficial member of the family. Schneider also frequently hits on Romano, employing clumsy double entendres she breezily rebuffs.