Myrtle Kane and Jeb Thornton meet in the audience of a New Orleans based game show. On Myrtle's initiative, they are chosen as contestants on the show, on the host's assumption that they meet the required contestant profile: being a happy engaged couple. In order to win the special $3,500 cash prize from the show, they have to get married on the air, to which they both agree. The more exuberant Myrtle is the only surviving member of the Mobile Hot Shots, a five piece girls band from the city of the same name. She sees being married to Jeb just the next big adventure in her life. She does however truly begin to believe she loves him, or at least love the thought of being married.
The outwardly more subdued Jeb wants to use his portion of the money to restore Waverley, his now run down family plantation located on the Mississippi River floodplain in Louisiana, to its former "Confederate" glory. He lives there reluctantly with his biracial half-brother Chicken, who he hates for not being pure to his family, especially for having that black blood. What Jeb eventually tells Myrtle is that he is dying from lung cancer, and that he "had to" sign an agreement with Chicken to deed the plantation to him after his death, which is the last thing he wants to happen.
Jeb decides to tell Myrtle his ulterior motive for marrying her: to have a baby to produce an heir to inherit the plantation from under Chicken which would supersede the agreement, or barring that - since they probably don't have the time before Jeb will pass - to work together to retrieve and tear up the agreement, either result being that Myrtle can own the plantation following Jeb's death. This backdrop and an imminent flood sets the stage for the disparate threesome's living arrangement, with some still hidden secrets which may bubble to the surface with the rising water.