Local news producer Katie is upset that her boss, Greg, only assigns her soft news. A family friend's funeral inspires Katie and her smothering mother, Carol, to pursue their dreams. Katie goes over Greg's head to secure a lead story assignment from anchor Chuck, while Carol returns to school and secures an internship at Katie's station. Katie tries to get Carol fired by tricking her into upsetting temperamental Chuck; Carol proves uniquely adept at handling Chuck, but quits over Katie's behavior. Katie convinces Carol to return and, when the hurricane she is covering is downgraded, successfully crafts a new lead story about baby boomers returning to the workplace.
Carol sabotages Katie's efforts to travel to the Central Park Zoo to cover an escaped bear, fearing the assignment is too dangerous. Carol realizes she has been projecting her own fears onto Katie and finally teaches her to ride a bike, enabling Katie to get an exclusive on the bear's subdual. In an effort to raise ratings, Greg insists that Chuck and Portia "banter" at the end of each newscast, but they have avoided socializing for years because they have nothing in common. Greg leads them to successfully discuss "lemonade;" Chuck is talking about the beverage and Portia is talking about the Beyoncé album.
Chuck has cataract surgery on both eyes, requiring him to break his perfect attendance record. To avoid showing weakness, he claims to be accepting an award and confides only in Carol, who finds the "mothering" task of caring for him easier than acquiring new skillsets to accomplish her intern tasks. Greg has long used Chuck's disapproval as an excuse to reject suggestions for The Breakdown, forcing him to now agree to everyone's outlandish ideas; he admits Katie is the only coworker he considers his peer as a professional. Greg and Katie lure Chuck back to the studio, but he is blind and, unaware of the changes, doesn't object to them. Greg deliberately behaves like Chuck, canceling the changes but also insulting the entire crew. Carol successfully uses the office's technology to get Chuck through the broadcast, though it is still disastrous.
Freelance photographer Trip (Tommy Dewey), Katie's secret boyfriend, returns from Syria. Carol, whose negativity Katie blames for previous breakups, discovers the relationship but likes Trip; Katie suspects Carol investigated him. Katie learns Trip is a wealthy heir, while Carol had learned his mother is deceased, enabling her to take over that role. Katie realizes her misgivings about Trip are her own, and she breaks up with him; he is disgusted by Katie and Carol's behavior, anyway. Chuck decides to prove his masculinity by field reporting from South Sudan, but Justin discovers Chuck is a coward, whose war zone footage is so embarrassing it drove his previous editor from the business. After Justin and Greg mock him, Chuck terrorizes them with firecrackers, exposing their own fears and purposefully earning a travel ban from HR.
The studio is snowed in. Dismayed by the lack of workplace friendships, Carol prompts socialization by distributing the morning show's wine. When the network requests a special report on the blizzard, the drunk crew pulls together to deliver a barely competent broadcast. Portia convinces Katie that Chuck's seemingly professional interest in her is romantic; Katie embarrasses herself and learns he was trying out ways to attract a young woman who works at his gym. An awkward attraction arises between Katie and Greg. Katie learns the "cat" Greg often refers to is his girlfriend, Catherine.
Field reporter Kevin is exposed as a serial arsonist and the leader of a redhead-supremacist group. At Carol's urging, Katie accepts his job. Her first report goes well, but without Katie's production support Portia squanders an interview with a source Katie developed. Katie wants to return to her previous position, but her field reporting was so well received, Greg insists she continue. Katie realizes Carol and her friends made all the positive calls the network received. To prove to Carol that she is capable of achieving fame but uninterested, Katie disrupts her live shot to reprise a childhood pageant routine. Greg instead runs a new theme song Justin helped Chuck create to prove he could match Portia's outside pursuits. Carol realizes fame is her own dream, and Katie encourages her to pursue it. Greg lets Katie return to producing and hires a new field reporter, unaware he is secretly Kevin's follower.
In Chuck's house, Carol finds his Madame Tussauds wax figure, which was mothballed after his fame declined. Giving up on his dreams, he tells her to destroy it. She instead hides it on the roof, resulting in the office believing Chuck will commit suicide. Carol admits that if Chuck doesn't have hope for the future, she fears she can't either. Chuck's coworkers inspire him with their heartfelt admiration, and are confused when he reveals himself after the dummy falls. Portia's phone is hacked, and a typo in a leaked email suggests Katie and Greg are having an affair. Learning that the crew views them both as sexless, they go overboard to portray themselves as sexual beings. Carol concludes from Katie's overreaction that she is attracted to Greg.
An ambitious Carol successfully pitches a story on popular app Biscuit Blitz; Chuck mansplains the topic's insignificance to Portia, who is an expert on the game's relevance. He later apologizes, but fails to actually modify his behavior. Katie wants to investigate connections between recent celebrity hacks, but Greg criticizes her instincts and orders her to drop it; Katie leaves Carol to unsuccessfully oversee the Biscuit Blitz story and secretly meets with her source, who turns out to be a child. Katie reveals that Greg left England after incompetently producing a story on the Loch Ness Monster. Katie and Greg meet with the source, who is legitimate despite his youth and immaturity; he believes there is a data breach in an app. When Chuck is hacked after Carol installs Biscuit Blitz on his phone, Katie realizes the game is responsible and earns Greg's praise.
After learning Carol only attended one class and is unprepared for her midterm, Katie sets aside Biscuit Blitz's financial documents to help Carol, who admits she fears failure. Katie is scooped by a rival network, but the hack is blamed on a fall guy. When Greg finally stands up to his overbearing and distant grandmother, network owner Mildred Marlock, she endorses him as future head of the news division. Carol fails the midterm; not wanting to show weakness, Greg fires her. Katie stands up for Carol, and Mildred fires Katie and retains Carol. Mildred orders the destruction of the financial documents.
"Gram" imposes changes on The Breakdown, displeasing the crew. Katie gives up on journalism; Carol tries to use "tough love" on her, but sees her as a child and coddles her. Katie discovers proof that Gram owns Biscuit Blitz and orchestrated the hack. Greg admits he was wrong to fire her, and they confront Gram, who threatens them. Carol tells Katie that she'll never succeed if she gives up. Supported by the entire crew, Katie and Greg create a false broadcast to distract Gram, separately conduct a real broadcast to expose her, and trick her into incriminating herself on the air. The board of directors fires Gram, saving everyone's jobs. When Greg and Katie nearly kiss, Greg claims it is a British custom; he kisses the entire crew. Katie tells Carol that she will always need her mother; they leave the office arm in arm.