The premise of the show was a relationship between two characters regarded as cultural opposites. Dharma (full name Dharma Freedom Finklestein Montgomery, played by Jenna Elfman) was raised by hippie parents, a practicer of yoga and an adherent of Eastern spiritualities. Greg (full name Gregory Clifford Montgomery, played by Thomas Gibson) was an attorney from an upper class, old money family. On the first date, they married.
The show focused on the characters' marriage and the compromise of their different values. However, both Dharma and Greg were more moderate than their parents, often caricatures, in personality and viewpoints.
At the end of each episode, a message appeared on the screen for a brief moment, so that it is readable only to those who record the program (using a VCR, for example) and pause it. These "vanity cards" were written by producer and show co-creator Chuck Lorre, and express his personal views on a variety of subjects.
Dharma (Jenna Elfman) - Greg's wife, encourages him to seek happiness, rather than fret about money and such
Greg (Thomas Gibson) - Dharma's husband, an upright, decent, though sometimes surprisingly open-minded, man
Kitty (Susan Sullivan) - Greg's snobbish mother, who highly disapproves of Dharma and successfully makes her feel guilty often
Edward (Mitch Ryan) - Greg's father, whose philosphy for dealing with women involves remaining as uninvolved as possible. Head of Montgomery Industries and at odds with Dharma's father
Abby (Mimi Kennedy) - Dharma's caring mother, who encourages her daughter and son-in-law to produce children; "Feel free to have sex anywhere."
It [dharma] is, so to speak, the essential nature of a being, comprising the sum of its particular qualities or characteristics, and determining, by virtue of the tendencies or dispositions it implies, the manner in which this being will conduct itself, either in a general way or in relation to each particular circumstance.
The Dharma is one of the Three Jewels, and Buddhists are said to seek refuge in it as in the Buddha and the Sangha.
Dharma is also used to refer to the teachings of the Buddha, not in the context of the words of one man, even an enlightened man, but as a reflection of natural law which was re-discovered by this man and shared with the world.
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