Suddenly Susan takes place at The Gate, a fictitious magazine which is based in San Francisco. Among the magazine's employees is Susan Keane (played by Brooke Shields), who writes a columm on being a single woman. She lives with her loving grandmother, Nana (played by Barbara Barrie). Susan got the job at the magazine after deserting her fiancé on her wedding day. Other employees include Luis Rivera (played by Nestor Carbonell), who is the magazine's photographer. Maddy Piper (played by Andréa Bendewald) is the investigative reporter at The Gate. Restaurants are reviewed by Vicki Groener (played by Kathy Griffin) and concerts are reviewed by Todd Stites (played by David Strickland). The owner of The Gate is Jack Richmond (played by Judd Nelson). Jack turns out to be the brother of the man Susan deserted on her wedding day.
Besides the task of putting together a magazine, Suddenly Susan also focuses on the private lives of each employee.
David Strickland's sudden death in 1999 forced changes in the show. The Gate got a new owner, Ian Maxtone-Graham (played by Eric Idle), who transformed The Gate into a men's magazine. He brought along Miranda Charles, his executive assistant (played by Sherri Shepherd). A sports writer, Nate Knaborski (played by Currie Graham) was added along with a freelance photographer, Oliver Browne (played by Rob Estes).