Disenchanted with life and desperate for a change, teenager Angela Chase begins hanging out with new, different friends; questions the world, herself, and the people around her; and dyes her hair red.
Angela becomes estranged from her long-time friend Sharon and instead spends her time with the free-spirited Rayanne Graff and her friend Rickie, who get Angela to have more fun and to try new things. Also, through Rayanne's influence, Angela gets to know Jordan Catalano, the guy Angela has fallen in love with from afar.
As with any teenager going through changes, Angela feels that her parents don't understand her, and she cuts her well-meaning mother and father out of certain aspects of her life. However, Angela's problems and attitude make her the center of attention in her family and are the source of much tension in the Chase household. Meanwhile, Angela's parents, Patty and Graham, have problems of their own to deal with and often worry that they are not good parents.