At the center of the series is U.S. Senator William Powers, a parody of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. Margaret, the senator's status-hungry wife, treats Charlotte, their maid, with comedic disdain. Caitlyn, the senator's daughter, has an eating disorder and is married to Representative Theodore Van Horne, who is suicidal; their son, Pierce, is mature beyond his years from having to care for his unbalanced parents. Sophie Lipkin, the senator's illegitimate daughter, is a loud, crass New Jerseyan who surprises the family when she moves to Washington and begins to bond with her father. The senator's staff includes an intelligent and beautiful aide, Jordan Miller — who is also Powers' mistress — and the feckless aide Bradley Grist.
Although the program was short lived, several of the principals subsequently became involved in long-running and popular NBC sitcoms created after the show's demise. Series creators Crane and Kauffman went on to develop Friends, which lasted 10 years. Among the actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt took a role in Third Rock from the Sun, Robin Bartlett played a recurring part on Mad About You, and David Hyde Pierce was chosen for his role as Niles Crane in the series Frasier partly on the basis of his work in this program.