The family is dominated by Ray's mother Marie (Doris Roberts). Her husband Frank, played by Peter Boyle, is a boorish, food-demanding slob, and her younger son Robert Brad Garrett is constantly in the shadow of Ray's success when it comes to their mother's attentions.
Much of the comedy comes from Ray's wife Debra (Patricia Heaton) and her attempts to deal with the family she has inherited along with Ray. This situation is · exascerbated by the fact that they live directly across the street from Ray's parents. A typical episode might see Ray do something he knows will irritate Debra, try to cover it up for a while until found out by Robert, before his mother comes to his defense.