After spending several years in her young adult life in Minneapolis but with her brash Bronx Jewish upbringing in tow and with its associated sarcasm, artistically inclined Rhoda Morgenstern returns to her hometown of New York City to begin life anew. She continues her navigation of searching for true love, initially with Joe Girard, the owner of his own wrecking company, he being the original reason she decided to move back to New York to begin with. Her relationships with Joe and with other men are an evolution to often being the pursued from what was a self-perception of being the overweight ugly duckling always doing the pursuing and mostly of undesirable men who she felt were the only people she could pursue. She also tries to find her place in the working world, doing something using her artistic abilities honed in art school such as the window dressing work she did in Minneapolis. Through it all, she reestablishes a day-to-day relationship with her family: her overbearing and diminutive mother, Ida; her often over-supportive father, Martin; and her baby sister Brenda, whose evolution as a human almost mirrors Rhoda's own when Rhoda was Brenda's age.
- Rhoda Morganstern visits her family in New York City and after meeting an interesting man, decides not to return to Minneapolis. She rents an apartment in the same building as her younger sister Brenda, who is also single. Their mother Ida is desperate to see them both find husbands, as she believes they can't be happy if they remain unmarried. Brenda has one unlucky romance after another. Meanwhile, Rhoda is seriously dating Joe Gerard and in the second season they marry. Many of Rhoda's friends from Minneapolis come for the wedding.
Joe and Rhoda settle into a new apartment. The building doorman is Carlton, never seen but heard only through the intercom. "Hello this is Carlton your doorman." Rhoda continues her work as a window dresser and later rents an office. The Gerards play host to friends and family but discover that finding time for each other is becoming a problem. They don't communicate well and Rhoda is constantly asking her mother and sister for advice.
Season three opens with the Gerards house-hunting. Rhoda finds her dream home but Joe suddenly decides they should wait. This evolves into a discussion of what is really wrong between them. Joe wants time alone to figure things out and the couple decides to separate.
Rhoda is miserably unhappy and constantly telephones Joe on various pretexts. They visit a marriage counselor and try "dating" but nothing helps. Rhoda goes out with various losers. She sees Joe with another woman, leading her to believe that he has a girlfriend.
By season four, Joe and Rhoda are divorced. Her window-dressing business has failed and she finds a job working in a costume rental shop.The "singles scene" is no longer appealing and she is quite lonely. Joe has moved away but Rhoda hears that he has remarried. Brenda continues to look for a husband and Rhoda is dating again, but her heart isn't in it.
Rhoda's parents separate. Brenda and Rhoda try to get them back together but Ida has had enough of married life. Eventually she agrees to a reconciliation but insists that her husband "court" her as he did when they were young. In the final episode of the series, Brenda decides her family is too stifling and she moves away.