Set in South Central, a community in Los Angeles county, California, To Sleep with Anger is centered upon an African-American family. Headed by Gideon (Paul Butler), the patriarch, the foundation of the family is his wife, Suzie (Mary Alice). Typical of many Black residents in South Central, the husband and wife have retained their Southern roots regardless of their trek during The Great Migration. Examples of this retention include referencing their children by nicknames, having a vegetable garden and raising chickens in their backyard.
They have acclimated to urban life and are parents to two adult sons, Gideon Jr. or “Junior” (Carl Lumbly), who is married to Pat (Vonetta McGee) and Samuel or “Babe Brother” (Richard Brooks), who is married to Linda (Sheryl Lee Ralph). Rounding out this family are grandchildren, including one that Pat is soon expecting to deliver. Stable and content, the family is tight-knit.