Nava initially created the series for CBS, which passed on the pilot. PBS picked up 12 remaining episodes for its first season. The second season aired in mid-2004 with a slight name change. When it had initially aired in January 2002, it was simply known as American Family. Nava envisioned the second season as an epic story in 13 parts that featured current events as well as how the family was involved in the Mexican Revolution.
Edward James Olmos plays Jess Gonzalez, a Korean War veteran and barber with a cranky disposition as well as five adult children. He and his wife Berta (Sonia Braga) seek a better life for their children. Conrado is a medical school student, who, at the end of the first season, enlists in the Army.