Payments delayed until 2009 come due just as the dryer breaks, Sue needs glasses and Frankie comes within a jelly bean of losing her job. Sue tries out for the swim team with disastrous consequences but a tornado brings good fortune.
Mike gives daughter Sue questionable advice on handling a crush. Mirroring Newton's laws, growing Independence by Axl and Brick are balanced by codependency by Frankie's aunts. Assured the world won't stop without her, Frankie takes a fifteen minute break, and the world falls apart.
Socially indifferent Brick didn't bother to protest when classmate Olivia declared him her boyfriend, but soon tires of her 'romantic' demands to the point of despair. Alas, Axl's advise doesn't cut it and Mike is no match for the possessive, selectively deaf mini-bitch either, but Brick's brain ultimately finds a way out. Eager to Sue Sue succeed at something, both parents invest ludicrous effort in helping her win a place on a cheap bus trip to nearby Indiana by selling $3,000 food for the school. When her name is absent from the winners list, teacher in charge ...
Brick's teachers tell Frankie and Mike that Brick tested as "socially challenged," so Mike thinks basketball is the answer to help Brick interact with others. When that fails, Mike enters the neighborhood block-party lawnmower contest and discovers that Brick has a talent for souping up machines. Meanwhile Frankie joins the booster club to raise money for new football jerseys for Axl's team, but Axl refuses to give his old one to her.
Frankie is caught in the middle when Axl accidentally breaks down the front door, and Mike insists that he fix it - which could leave the Heck house wide open for days. Meanwhile, Frankie must sell a car within a week or be forced to wear a dog suit outside the lot, and it's school picture time for Sue, who has never had a flattering photo taken of her.
When the Heck family goes into a cleaning frenzy in order to get the trash out to a passing garbage truck, Frankie accidentally hits Brick with a beer bottle as she attempts to toss it into a bag - causing a small scratch. But when Brick innocently informs his school that his scratch was caused by his mother throwing a beer bottle at him, a social worker is called to look into the matter - sending Frankie into a panic to give off the image that the Hecks are a picture-perfect family. Meanwhile, Bob must help an uncooperative Mr. Ehlert shoot a new commercial ...
Frankie observes what she thinks are the perfect siblings, and it becomes her mission in life to make her kids stop fighting with one another and interact as a loving family. Meanwhile, Mike contemplates firing Aunt Edie after she makes a costly mistake at the quarry.
Frankie writes a Christmas letter and comes up with interesting interpretations of the family activities. She gets the lead in the Christmas choir's solo and has to attend more practice sessions. Mike takes over home duties.