Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ‘80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves.
Rainbow Johnson’s parents decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white.
For Rainbow and Alicia, fitting in at school and standing out at work are hard enough; but with the added pressure from stay-at-home-dad Paul to make the world a little better every day, it might just be impossible.
After a teacher tells Rainbow to make sure her hair is “neat” for picture day, she becomes self-conscious and begins a complicated relationship with her hair. Meanwhile, Johan and Santamonica struggle with their own hair identity.
When Rainbow is tasked with a school assignment that requires her to trace her roots, she learns that history is more complicated for her mom’s side of the family than it is for her dad’s. Meanwhile, Johan struggles to balance his new love of ice hockey with what his friends think is cool.
It’s time for the Johnson kids’ first school dance, but before Bow can dance the night away, she’ll have to consider the social impact of her date choice. Johan finds an outfit for the dance and discovers his love of fashion, while Santamonica spends some time with Harrison.
The popular girls at school ask Rainbow to join their group Halloween costume as Tootie from “The Facts of Life.” She thinks this is finally her opportunity to fit in, but Denise views the situation differently. Meanwhile, Alicia doesn’t want the kids to go trick-or-treating after Harrison and his colleagues tell her about all the dangerous things that can happen.
The kids are excited to learn more about their grandad after Harrison invites the crew to family day at his country club. Although Paul thinks it’s a bad idea, he is eventually overruled. Meanwhile, Alicia attempts to fit in at the country club but ends up fighting with Denise about keeping it real.
Rainbow’s passion for science deflates when her peers convince her that science isn’t cool. During Career Day, Rainbow code-switches and pursues journalism in order to fit in, only to find that the local news anchor attending the fair has also been hiding a part of herself. Meanwhile, Harrison works to mold a testimony from Denise who struggles to be anyone but herself, and Santamonica tries to steal the spotlight back after Johan suffers an injury.
Paul struggles when Rainbow and Santamonica want to participate in a beauty pageant. Meanwhile, Johan gets teased for crying after a martial arts tournament, and Alicia and Harrison struggle with the best way for him to fight back.
Alicia and Paul strive to maintain their “Winter Solstice” traditions from the commune, but their parents want to have a more traditional Christmas with the kids. Meanwhile, Alicia’s dad, Lynwood, competes with Harrison to be the kids’ favorite Grandad.
In the wake of the Challenger tragedy, Rainbow and her family handle their grief in different ways. Denise realizes that life is too short, so she vows to right all the wrongs she’s done in her life (and she’s done a lot of bad).
Rainbow wants to battle stereotypes at school after she joins the track team and feels like her friends only see her skin color. Meanwhile, Alicia and Paul battle stereotypes of their own, and Santamonica tries to be cool enough to hang out with Rainbow’s friends.
It’s the first-ever nationally recognized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Paul is speaking at the school assembly about his personal experiences with him. Johan and Santamonica think Paul is going to embarrass them; and being ashamed of her father had never occurred to Rainbow, so they decide to ditch. Meanwhile, Alicia thought she had convinced Harrison to take pro bono civil rights cases on MLK Day to honor him, but he plans to go golfing instead, so Denise steps in to help.
Paul is shocked to hear from his estranged mother who wants to visit for Rainbow’s 13th birthday and soon learns more about why she abandoned him. Meanwhile, Rainbow sees turning 13 as a huge turning point in her life and wants a big birthday party, but Alicia wants to celebrate all the things Rainbow missed out on over the years while on the commune.