Xiaoma, a young woman who has recently moved to Beijing, finds an apartment in an old courtyard apartment complex owned by Grandma, an elderly woman. Xiaoma and Grandma’s relationship almost immediately becomes strained. After trying to tidy up the courtyard, Grandma insists that Xiaoma turn over her share of the profits. Tightfisted, the elderly landlady resists even allowing Xiaoma to install a telephone. At the same time the older woman becomes increasingly interested in Xiaoma’s personal (and romantic) life. Grandma, for example, tries to pass off her grandson to the younger woman. Annoyed, Xiaoma nevertheless is flattered at the older woman’s concern. Over the course of four seasons, Xiaoma begins to learn from her landlady of the old world that the modern city of Beijing has left behind, while Grandma begins to enjoy the youth and vitality of her tenant. The two women become closer and eventually develop a deep friendship.