The show centers around the Petersons, a middle-class black family living in Harlem. Robert (Robert Townsend), the father, is a college professor, while his wife Jerri (Suzzanne Douglas) is a law student. Together, they raise their four children; teenagers Michael (Kenny Blank) and Zaria (Reagan Gomez-Preston), elementary school-aged Nicholas (Curtis Williams), and toddler Cece (Ashli Adams). Also part of the cast was Robert's friend Wendell (Faizon Love). In the final season, the Petersons take in a troubled youth named T.K. (Tyrone Burton).
Not to be confused with Parenthood.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Each of the Peterson children have had their turn with this.
- Annoying Younger Sibling:
- Nicholas and Cece are this for Michael and Zaria.
- Robert's brother Kelly is this for him.
- Big Applesauce: The series takes place in Harlem.
- Celebrity Star: Many African American celebrities guest starred as themselves.
- Christmas Episode: Robert cancels Christmas because of the kids' greedy attitudes.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several characters disappear without explanation during the show's run, including Wendell's mother and, in the final season, Wendell himself. Even Michael disappears in the final season, with a throwaway line that he was attending college.
- Drop-In Character: Wendell, to the extent that Nicholas once claimed that Wendell spent more time at his house then he did.
- Double Standard: Michael is given permission to attend a basketball game, but Zaria is denied a chance to go to a concert. Robert and Jerri realized that they were wrong and allow Zaria to go to the concert, but they follow her.
- Happily Married: Robert and Jerri are this.
- Imagine Spot: Robert has them Once an Episode.
- Mistakenfor Murderer: Kelly thinks the next door neighbor is a murderer.
- Mistakenfor Pregnant: In the episode where the kids think Jerri's pregnant.
- N-Word Privileges: One Very Special Episode is essentially an Author Tract about how one shouldn't have N Word Privileges.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Michael and Zaria's best friend had this type of relationship.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: In "I'm Otay, You're Otay", Nicholas is given an assignment to portray a notable black figure for Black History Month. Instead of picking someone like Martin Luther King Jr. or Thurgood Marshall, he chooses Buckwheat from The Little Rascals. Robert and Jerri are shocked by this and spend much of the episode trying to make Nick choose someone less offensive. They stop after Nicholas explains that even though Buckwheat's now considered a caricature, he still likes him. Furthermore, in both his presentation and the end credits, it's explained that Buckwheat, among other characters, did help open the door for future black performers.
- Take That!: In one episode, a Straw Loser calling a late night radio show Michael hosts as a part time job (explicitly said to have no listeners) asks if they saw Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that week.
- Teen Pregnancy: One of Zaria's friends is denied a full scholarship to college because she has a child.
- Very Special Episode: Several, including one about racism.