In the show, Benson DuBois had been hired to be the head of household affairs for scatterbrained and widowed Governor Eugene Gatling, and his daughter Katie. Governor Gatling was cousin to the two sisters on whose families the stories centered on Soap. The state of which Gatling was governor remained unidentified throughout the series.
The show revolved around Benson's housekeeping dilemmas, his fights with the German cook Gretchen Wilhemina Kraus, and his interactions with John Taylor, who assisted Governor Gatling as chief of staff. After the first season, Taylor's job was filled by Clayton Endicott III, who was written out by having him run for political office and actually snub his employer's endorsement. He lost the election but returned at Benson's request. In spite of their adversarial relationship (during the early years, Kraus' trademark line was a loud "I hear you!" from off-stage), Benson and Kraus eventually became good friends. Benson also had very good friendships with the Governor's secretary, Marcy Hill, and her successor, Denise. Marcy left after her second-season wedding.
Denise and Pete Downey, the Governor's Press Secretary (introduced in Season 2), met and later married while working in the governor's mansion and were expectant parents for most of the third-to-last season. Both were written out, saying they left state government service because Denise got a job working for NASA.
Benson worked his way up the ladder during the series, going from head of household affairs to state budget director (at which time his surname—DuBois—was revealed), and eventually was elevated to the position of Lieutenant Governor. During the final episodes of the 1985–1986 season, Benson ran for governor against Gatling. Kraus (who had herself moved up to head of household affairs) proved to be Benson's biggest supporter during this time, and he made her his personal assistant and campaign manager.
|Robert Guillaume||Benson DuBois||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|James Noble||Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Inga Swenson||Miss Gretchen Wilomena Kraus||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Missy Gold||Katherine "Katie" Olivia Gatling||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Caroline McWilliams||Marcy Hill||*||*||*|
|Lewis J. Stadlen||John Taylor||*|
|David Hedison||(pilot only)|
|Rene Auberjonois||Clayton Runnymede Endicott III||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|Ethan Phillips||Peter "Pete" John Downey||*||*||*||*|
|Didi Conn||Denise Florence Stevens Downey||*||*||*|
|Billie Bird||Mrs. Rose Cassidy||*||*|
|Season One||September 13, 1979||May 8, 1980||24|
|Season Two||October 31, 1980||May 22, 1981||22|
|Season Three||November 6, 1981||May 14, 1982||22|
|Season Four||October 22, 1982||March 31, 1983||22|
|Season Five||September 16, 1983||May 4, 1984||22|
|Season Six||September 21, 1984||April 5, 1985||24|
|Season Seven||October 4, 1985||April 19, 1986||22|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|Season Sets (Region 1)|
|The Complete First Season||July 24, 2007||purchase||3|
|The Complete Second Season||September 2, 2014||purchase||2|
|Multiple Season Sets (Region 1)|
|Seasons 1 & 2||September 2, 2014||purchase||4|