In the series opener, suburban Minneapolis wife and schoolteacher Cathy (Laura Linney), who is dying from skin cancer, begins to take charge of her life and live it up a little. She starts by building a pool in her tiny backyard, and tries to tell those close to her---a teen son, her estranged husband and a homeless brother---about her illness, but finds it difficult.
The reality of how little time she has left leaves Cathy with an inclination to explore and appreciate her body for the first time. After explaining to Paul that she wants them to live apart for the summer, he suggests they try couples therapy. Meanwhile, Adam sneaks off to soccer camp to get away from his loopy mother.
Cathy's efforts to connect with those closest to her hit a snag, so she reluctantly signs up for a cancer support group. Elsewhere, Paul makes an elaborate romantic gesture in an attempt to win back his wife; Cathy throws a dinner party for Andrea, Sean and his new girlfriend; and Marlene unexpectedly becomes privy to Cathy's cancer secret.
An impulsive Cathy liquidates her retirement savings and buys a sporty red convertible, and also entertains thoughts about getting involved with Dr. Todd. Meanwhile, Paul rediscovers his love of rugby, and Marlene gets Adam out of a ticklish situation, but not without exacting some unusual demands from the teen.
Cathy stumbles upon Adam watching pornography and later gets involved with a new man, the school's muralist (Idris Elba). Meanwhile, Paul finds he has a new admirer after getting hurt playing rugby; Sean fights to keep from getting evicted from his home in an abandoned building that is scheduled to be razed; and Marlene gives Sean her late husband's suit.
A lump discovered on Cathy's lower back needs to be removed, but when a disoriented Marlene doesn't arrive to pick her up after surgery, Cathy phones Lenny for a ride. Elsewhere, Sean moves into his sister's backyard after getting mugged, and Adam and Paul clean up in a local bathtub race, which goes a long way in getting Paul and Cathy back together, but when he mentions his fling with Tina the whole reconciliation goes down the drain. And Andrea vandalizes the school.
Cathy and Sean hit the road to visit their father (Brian Cox). Along the way, she tells Sean about her cancer diagnosis, which knocks him for a loop. Back at home, underage Adam, under the not-so-watchful eye of his father, has a bit too much to drink and winds up under the weather.
Lenny asks Cathy to accompany him to an art opening in the Bahamas for her birthday, but Paul has already planned a surprise party and invited her eccentric college friend Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon), to whom Sean takes a liking. Elsewhere, Adam finds a disoriented Marlene wandering around the backyard.
Dr. Todd has news about Cathy's opportunity to participate in a clinical trial; Sean plays matchmaker for Marlene; and Adam and Andrea get into a fight at a party. Later, Cathy and Lenny take Ecstasy and are caught in a compromising position by Paul, which leads him to make a decision about their marriage.
Cathy pays a visit to Andrea's house and is surprised by what she finds, and Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) breaks up with Sean in an attempt to mend some fences with Cathy. Later, Cathy drops by a church for some spiritual enlightenment and comes clean to Paul about her illness.
Cathy, Marlene and Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) select an unusual spot for a ladies' lunch and have some interesting topics on the menu. Elsewhere, Paul hopes for some cancer support from his coworkers; Adam has an encounter with a young lady at a bus stop; Rebecca surprises Sean with news that she's moving to Minneapolis; and Cathy informs Dr. Todd of her interest in nontraditional treatments.
Cathy's decision to embark on a nontraditional treatment for her cancer leads her and Dr. Todd to the unconventional Bee Man (Liam Neeson). Meanwhile, Adam gets relationship advice from Sean, and Paul's support of Cathy becomes a bit overbearing.
In the first-season finale, Cathy must reconsider her options after Dr. Todd tells her and Paul that the bee therapy was unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Sean and Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) reconnect after she tells him a surprising secret; and Adam reveals his softer side in a highly unlikely manner.