Walter Black was once outwardly successful in every aspect of the word. He inherited the CEO position of his now deceased father's toy company, Jerry Co. But largely because of his inability to manage the company, it which is near bankruptcy, he is now clinically depressed, which is manifesting itself primarily in wanting to sleep all the time. He has tried every therapy known, to no avail. He has even tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide. His depression is negatively affecting his family. His teen-aged son, Porter Black, is a bright boy who is able to parlay his ability to think like others into a successful money making venture of secretly writing school papers for his classmates. However, he is afraid that he will turn out like his father, his fear to the point of him trying consciously to wipe out any similarity he has with his father from his own being. Walter's adolescent son, Henry Black, is a loner, who gets picked on by others. As she feels she can't help him in any way, his engineer wife, Meredith Black, finally kicks him out of the house, much to Porter's joy. However, after finding it in a dumpster, Walter, ultimately with the support of his therapist, finds that he is able to express himself through the use of a beaver hand puppet, the beaver acting as a third person expression of himself. In doing so, he is able to function normally in all aspects, albeit with a beaver puppet on his hand talking for him at all times. In turn, most of the people in his life accept Walter's new beaver appendage, as it has in turn improved their lives with him. But Meredith soon wonders if Walter is indeed getting better, especially if he will ever be able to live without the beaver, and return to being the man she married. Porter too is having a difficult time accepting Walter in his new state. Porter's feelings are affected by his encounters with his latest client, Norah, the academically bright and popular soon-to-be valedictorian, who wants Porter to write her speech for her and who is more complex than Porter had imagined in seeing who he thought was the stereotypical smart, pretty girl with everything.