Patricia Heaton stars as Frankie Heck, a dedicated wife and mother who juggles work, family and life in an everyday, average American town. Frankie and Mike are both working parents desperately trying on a daily basis to discipline their teenage son, Axl, support their untalented-yet-severely-optimistic daughter, Sue, and attend parent-teacher meetings to discuss their oddball youngest son, Brick. Life may seem average in the middle of America but it's anything but for Frankie Heck and her family.
Facing financial disaster, Frankie tries to save her job by organizing a publicity stunt involving a car filled with jelly beans; Sue fails swim team tryouts, and then learns she needs glasses; and when Brick can't check books out of the library because Frankie can't pay a $200 library fine, he starts reading his mother's steamy romance novels.
Frankie and Mike's romantic plans for their anniversary are thwarted by a sick Brick, a lovesick Sue, a learner's permit-toting Axl, two crazy aunts and their diaper-wearing dog.
Meek daughter Sue finally succeeds in doing something right by selling thousands of dollars' worth of sausage and cheese samples for the school, which makes her eligible to travel to the state capitol. But when the school fails to recognize her achievement, Frankie urges her daughter to fight for her right to collect her well-deserved prize. Meanwhile, Brick discovers that love isn't all it's cracked up to be when his first girlfriend proves to be a bit on the bossy side.
Brick's teachers tell Frankie and Mike that Brick tested as "socially challenged," so Mike thinks basketball is the answer to help Brick interact with others. When that fails, Mike enters the neighborhood block-party lawnmower contest and discovers that Brick has a talent for souping up machines. Meanwhile Frankie joins the booster club to raise money for new football jerseys for Axl's team, but Axl refuses to give his old one to her.
Frankie is caught in the middle when Axl accidentally breaks down the front door, and Mike insists that he fix it - which could leave the Heck house wide open for days. Meanwhile, Frankie must sell a car within a week or be forced to wear a dog suit outside the lot, and it's school picture time for Sue, who has never had a flattering photo taken of her.
When the Heck family goes into a cleaning frenzy in order to get the trash out to a passing garbage truck, Frankie accidentally hits Brick with a beer bottle as she attempts to toss it into a bag - causing a small scratch. But when Brick innocently informs his school that his scratch was caused by his mother throwing a beer bottle at him, a social worker is called to look into the matter - sending Frankie into a panic to give off the image that the Hecks are a picture-perfect family. Meanwhile, Bob must help an uncooperative Mr. Ehlert shoot a new commercial advertising the car lot.
Frankie's dream of an idyllic family Thanksgiving is thwarted when Mr. Ehlert forces the staff to work on the holiday. Meanwhile, Frankie and Mike approve of a clueless Sue's first boyfriend -- who turns out to be a safe choice -- and a panicked Axl loses Brick in a corn maze.
Frankie observes what she thinks are the perfect siblings, and it becomes her mission in life to make her kids stop fighting with one another and interact as a loving family. Meanwhile, Mike contemplates firing Aunt Edie after she makes a costly mistake at the quarry.
While Frankie focuses on rehearsing for a solo in her church's midnight Christmas mass, Mike takes over handling the chores of setting up the Heck family Christmas. But Frankie becomes a bit jealous when it seems that Mike is doing a better job at organizing the holiday then she would have done. Meanwhile, Frankie and Mike try to help Brick overcome a problem in order to get into the holiday spirit.
Frankie and Mike must endure the unpredictability of teenagers when a hormonally charged Sue wants a cool pair of jeans in order to fit in with her peers, and Axl wants a car to impress a girl. Meanwhile, in an attempt to teach Brick about responsibility, Frankie and Mike reluctantly allow him to take care of Aunt Edie and Aunt Ginny's dog Doris for a few days.
Frankie fears that a confrontation with trashy neighbor Rita Glossner is at hand when Sue has a run-in with her sons. Meanwhile, Axl tries to bribe Brick when he's asked to teach his little brother how to kick a ball for a gym requirement, but it's Brick who turns the tables on Axl and ends up bribing him for another favor.
Mike's discovery of a dinosaur bone in the quarry causes the plant to get shut down for scientific research - leaving him out of a job. But he begins to feel like a dinosaur himself when he discovers how drastically things have changed technologically over the years in terms of searching for a job. Meanwhile, Frankie feels she must once again come to Brick's rescue when he decides to run for school historian.
Frankie vows to stop yelling at and nagging her kids if they agree to follow through on their school work and chores without her intervention. Meanwhile, Mike reluctantly takes a night job as a driver delivering snack cakes with Bob.
Valentine's Day unexpectedly finds Frankie and Mike home alone and ready for a romantic evening while Brick is away at his first sleepover, Sue goes to her first boy-girl party, and Axl has a big date night planned with some friends. But Cupid's arrow doesn't exactly hit the target, and the best laid plans soon begin to unravel.
When Mike discovers that Brick is a spelling wiz and won the school spelling bee, he puts all his efforts into training him to win the regional bee, which could ultimately lead to competing in the Scripps Spelling Bee. But as the family gets set for their road trip to Chicago for the regional bee, Frankie and Mike are horrified when they realize they forgot one thing -- Sue's birthday.
Frankie and Mike are excited to discover that Axl has found the perfect girlfriend, Morgan, and that he's in love. But just as they start to get used to his new, sunny outlook on life, Morgan does the unthinkable and breaks up with him, leaving Axl completely heartbroken. Meanwhile, Sue learns that she's not the greatest of baby-sitters when she's put in charge of watching Brick and freaks him out -- as well as herself -- by letting him watch a scary movie.
Frankie fears her job at the car dealership may be on the line when hardcore motivational consultant Abby is hired to whip the sales staff into shape. Meanwhile, with Frankie putting in extra hours at work, Mike has to deal with issues at home, including getting a pool table in order to make the house more fun for Axl and his friends, giving advice to Sue's slightly confused ex-boyfriend, and helping Brick with a school project.
Mr. Ehlert takes a liking to Mike and presents him with two tickets to the Final Four - Mike's dream come true! But when Frankie's uncle passes away and the funeral is set for the day of the game, a battle begins to brew as Frankie forces Mike to choose which life event is most important to him. Meanwhile, Sue tries to help Brick get out of going to a birthday party by impersonating Frankie over the phone, but panics when she realizes that Frankie is going to make a call for real in order to get him out because of the funeral.
After having their power turned off because they couldn't pay their electric bill on time, Frankie and Mike decide to cut unnecessary expenses - starting with their cable TV. But while the kids adapt to the change by doing other activities, Frankie and Mike find themselves not knowing how to fill the time they used to spend in front of the tube. Meanwhile, Brick and his fellow socially challenged friends are dealt a major blow when the school library is closed during recess and they're forced into the outside world onto the playground with the other students.
Frankie is worried that Axl's going to get his heart crushed again when his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Morgan, re-enters his life and tries to mold him into the man she wants him to be. Meanwhile Brick learns what it means to be a mother hen when he has to watch over a baby chick for a school science project.
Mother's Day for Frankie is anything but serene when she finds herself doing more for Mike and the kids and less for herself. But she learns that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree when she escapes the family for a few hours to go to her mom's and ends up acting like a child by making her mom wait on her hand-and-foot. Meanwhile, Sue feels guilty when she steals a motivational magnet from a store whose message actually enticed her to shoplift it.
The Heck family BBQ is being planned as spring rolls around and Mike decides it's time for him and Brick to try to be more social at the event, as Frankie has pointed out that Mike's own social ineptness has been passed on to Brick. Meanwhile, Axl sets out to clean the family pool in order to entice the girls to stop by for a swim -- in their bikinis; and Sue finally finds someone who totally understands her -- church youth group leader Reverend TimTom -- but when she learns he may be leaving the parish due to budget cuts, she attempts to raise money to help finance his stay.
After attending year-end school parent-teacher conferences, Frankie and Mike are shocked to discover that Brick may be held back from going to the third grade because the school librarian, Mrs. Nethercott, has it out for him due to 31 unreturned books. Meanwhile, as Axl's aptitude test results reveal him to be academically gifted, Frankie makes it her mission to get an overlooked Sue the recognition she deserves when none of her teachers even realize that she's in their classes.