The show follows a newspaper columnist (Harry Anderson) and his everyday life in the suburbs. The series is based on the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry, and is specifically inspired by his essay collections Dave Barry's Greatest Hits and Dave Barry Turns 40.
Tropes for the series:
- The Alleged Boss: Kenny is an editor at the Miami Record-Dispatch but he is usually hopeless at keeping his department working let alone making his staff stick to deadlines.
- Bachelor Auction: A reluctant Shel is hot property among hot bidders (thanks to tips from Kenny), despite the card with his personal information on it being switched with a loser.
- Creator Cameo: The real Dave Barry guest-starred in one episode. He was a disgruntled character who got into a bidding war with Dave over an air conditioner during a heatwave. The end credits of the episode featured Barry and Harry Anderson jamming together on guitars. To take things full-circle, the real Dave then wrote a column about his experience on the show, which was published in the book Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up.
- A Day in the Limelight: "Saved By Estelle" puts focus on Shel with Beth and Kenny getting slightly beefed up roles. Dave, meanwhile, is only seen in the opening act before heading off on a book tour.
- Divine Race Lift: Shel's young daughter goes as God for Halloween explaining that he is in fact, like her, a black woman.
- Just the Way You Are: Averted, where Dave's friend Shel is an unrepentant plastic surgeon. During one episode, Shel's brother shows up unexpectedly at his office and convinces a potential patient of his with a Jimmy Durante nose that she's fine just the way she is. Shel is, understandably, not pleased.
- Lost Wedding Ring: In a singles bar, Dave lends his wedding ring to Kenny to see if the latter can still pick up women despite being supposedly married. He can, and unfortunately leaves the ring at his latest conquest's house.
- New Technology is Evil: Kenny has a fax machine sent to Dave in the hopes that Dave will use it to submit his columns on time. Dave refuses to use it for the exact same reason.
- No Snack for You: In the episode "Cyberspace", a program is described for an evil ATM, after the customer inserts the card and enters the PIN, gives out nothing, not even the card back.
- Only Sane Man: It's telling that Dave, based on a real-life humor columnist famous for getting into misadventures, is the rational one compared to Shel, an over-compensating divorced father, and Kenny, an aging playboy.
- Ridiculous Procrastinator: Dave takes every excuse to delay writing his column. The rest of the writing staff in the Miami Record-Dispatch's editorial department is the same way, with everyone partaking in elaborate games when Kenny isn't around.Mia: So, Dave, where's your column?
Dave: It's Saturday, Mia!
Mia: It was due Thursday.
Dave: So, you'll get it on Tuesday. You know the routine.
- The Show of the Books: Based on two Dave Barry's books.
- Writer's Block: Dave frequently struggles to get started on his column.Dave: [Narrating a potential column about writer's block] The funny thing about writer's block is — The, the thing you should know about writer's block is —
- Write What You Know: Dave's home life provides a ready source of material for his column. They don't like it when he writes about embarrassing incidents, however.