Inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, chief content officer of Hearst Magazines.The show reveals a glimpse into the outrageous lives and loves of those responsible for the global women’s magazine Scarlet. The rising generation of Scarlet women leans on one another as they find their own voices in a sea of intimidating leaders. Together they explore sexuality, identity, love and fashion.
Newly promoted writer Jane is unsettled when Jacqueline assigns her a big story -- writing about why her ex broke up with her. Kat chases a story about outspoken photographer Adena, but is confused by her strong connection to the woman. Meanwhile, Sutton tries not to feel left behind by her best friends as she still toils in the assistant ranks. But she shocks them when they uncover a major secret Sutton has been keeping -- her scandalous affair with lusted-after Scarlet magazine lawyer Richard.
Kat finds herself questioning her identity as she continues to spend time with Adena. Jane is horrified when she is tasked with writing Scarlet’s sex column – especially when her story turns intensely personal. And Sutton is given an opportunity to advance at Scarlet, but questions if it’s what she really wants to be doing with her life.
Kat finds herself the victim of internet trolling when she stands up for gender inequality. Sutton thinks she may have found her dream job but worries she doesn’t have what it takes to make it work. And Jane pursues a story about a congresswoman but tries to find a different angle to make her voice heard.
Sutton is flustered when someone at Scarlet has the wrong impression of her professional background. Jane is determined to prove she can have a friends with benefits relationship without feelings getting in the way. And Kat and Adena continue growing closer.
Jane is stunned when the subject of her latest article, a woman who left a finance job to become an exotic dancer, threatens to sue Scarlet – and Jane. Sutton is excited when she thinks she’s making a step forward in her career. Kat questions whether she is ready for a real relationship with anyone, especially in light of recent events with Adena.
In promoting Scarlet’s breast health awareness campaign, Kat tries to be bold with her message, but is left wondering whether her competitive nature is hurting her cause. Jane confronts past issues and current anxieties when she is tasked with writing a controversial piece about BRCA gene testing. Sutton is determined to excel at her tasks at hand, but when things fall apart, it’s Alex who rushes to her rescue.
Richard is determined to get to know Sutton’s friends outside of the office and invites the girls to dinner, but things don’t quite go as planned. Sutton attempts to network with a new social circle by attending a high tea. While on a date with someone else, Jane comes to a realization about Pinstripe; and Jacqueline is forced to intervene when Kat’s new staffer keeps damaging Scarlet’s social media presence.
As rumors of layoffs at Scarlet sweep through the office leaving everyone unsettled, Jane learns of a potential opportunity at a rival publication. Sutton is given a big opportunity when a coworker buckles under pressure. Kat is tasked with organizing a “Readers Night” for Scarlet, but is distracted by thoughts of Adena – leading to a big decision. And Jane talks Sutton and Kat into joining her on a dating app.
Jane, Sutton, Alex, Pinstripe and Jacqueline are all trapped in the Scarlet offices due to a massive traffic jam. Forced to spend time together, Jane reexamines her feelings for Pinstripe. Sutton makes a surprising move. And when she learns Adena is leaving New York, Kat makes an impulsive decision.
Jane gets an eye opening experience when she is tasked with writing a piece about a performance artist/activist who is speaking out about sexual assault. Kat is distracted by thoughts of Adena while trying to throw a memorable New York Fashion Week party; Sutton gets into an awkward situation with Richard.
Scarlet reels over their new dynamic, forcing everyone to adjust. Jane tries to cope with the changes to Jacqueline’s role at the magazine, and joins forces with Kat and Sutton to make it clear how much she means to them. Sutton takes stock of her position at Scarlet, as Richard considers a world outside it. And Kat butts heads with RJ Safford over response to the new direction of the magazine.
Picking up right after the heartbreak, romances and uncertainties from the season two finale in Paris, Jane, Kat and Sutton are back in New York City and dealing with the aftermath of some major decisions. Scarlet Magazine brings in Patrick Duchand to run the digital branch, effectively knocking Jacqueline down to only running the print magazine. Meanwhile, Jane has picked her guy but is frustrated that a man is put in charge of a women's magazine. Kat struggles to keep up happy appearances on social media and as a speaker at the Scarlet Summit while secretly suffering heartache. Sutton and Richard enjoy their romance in the limelight and discuss moving in together.
Jane begins her fertility treatments in preparation for freezing her eggs and is assigned an article to write about her experience, but with a very personal twist. Kat learns that a prominent lesbian bar is being closed down and replaced with condos and decides to throw a Queer Prom to fundraise its rescue. Sutton moves in with Richard but struggles to accept his help when Oliver’s mysterious absences force her to put in more hours at work.
With Jane’s egg extraction on the horizon, she and her boyfriend can’t wait to have sex again and she challenges herself to be less “vanilla” and more “rocky road” in the bedroom. Alex examines his dating life in a piece for Scarlet digital when he realizes he was the subject behind a #MeToo story. Fed up after realizing that her councilman doesn’t have his city’s best interests at heart, Kat decides to channel her passion by volunteering for his opposition. Sutton considers a career shift into fashion design but debates how to break the news to Oliver.
Jane stumbles on the scoop of a lifetime, but Jacqueline turns down the pitch when her impending 10th-anniversary gala and continued power-struggles with Patrick force her to contemplate her future with Scarlet. Sutton preps a design seminar application for Oliver’s recommendation, but he remains distracted by things in his personal life. Kat decides to run for City Council but reconsiders when she learns what the opposition might spin about her past.
Scarlet falls prey to a data hack, halting production of the dotcom and magazine and Jane and Jacqueline fear their investigation could be compromised as a result. Pressures escalate when Sutton and Richard host a dinner party. Meanwhile, Kat opens up to Tia as they begin her campaign.
The Scarlet email hack brings up memories of the trio’s first meeting four years ago, reminding them that together they can overcome anything.
When Kat faces racial profiling while canvassing for office, she is tempted to call the woman out on social media in order to find justice. Sutton realizes that Richard is keeping something from her. Meanwhile, Jane and Jacqueline make headway on the workplace harassment investigation.
When Adena returns to New York, Kat debates whether she’s ready to see her, but quickly realizes she might not have a choice. Sutton is stretched in too many directions between styling for Oliver and designing for her seminar, causing friction with Richard.
When Kat beings to doubt herself on the eve of her election, an unexpected person gives her the reassurance she needs. Jane and Jacqueline are confident about their workplace harassment investigation and decide to take action. Sutton coaches Carly through a difficult situation at school.
When Jane and Jacqueline’s exposé makes an impact, Jacqueline takes a hard look at how she can make Scarlet an industry leader that practices what it preaches. Sutton celebrates the end of her design seminar with a fashion show but surprises herself with the results. Jane deals with an emotional fallout amidst a career high. Kat makes a choice not to run from her problems anymore.
Jane is excited to publish her first big piece for Incite, especially since she's writing about a female CEO she admires and she knows Jacqueline will be reading it. Sutton is thrown when a new corporate policy seems to give her and Richard the green…
Kat is forced to confront how her avoidance of labels has affected her life; Sutton's assistants think she was asked to organize a photo shoot for reasons other than her talent; Jane tries to defend herself after the fallout from her Incite article.
Sutton is in an awkward position when she is put in charge of hiring a photographer for an accessories shoot, and Kat asks her to hire Adena. Jane follows around a cute and altruistic doctor named Ben for her latest article. Scarlet’s newest board member, Cleo, causes Jacqueline to defend her role at the magazine.
Jane crosses paths with Pinstripe, who inspires her to try a new style of writing. Meanwhile, she learns something new about Ben. Adena reluctantly brings Kat out to meet her friends, and Kat quickly immerses herself in the New York lesbian scene. Sutton fights for an in with a well-connected influencer named Brooke.
Kat gets the go-ahead to hire her first addition to the social team, but grows frustrated by the lack of diversity in the applicant pool. Jane feels the sting of her freelance financial situation, prompting a challenging conversation with her friends. Sutton leans into the single life, but finds out that it's not so easy.
Jane is thrilled when her sexual assault article for Scarlet is nominated for a prestigious journalism award. Determined to prove herself to Jacqueline, Jane jumps at the chance to write a follow-up piece, until the story takes an unexpected turn. Kat struggles with whether to tell Adena a secret and Sutton is given a challenging assignment – styling Richard’s date.
It's Jane's first day back at Scarlet and when she learns what Sutton is hiding in their apartment, the girls realize they have polar opposite views on the subject. Meanwhile, Adena shocks Kat with her latest suggestion.
After an intimate moment mishap with Ben, Jane evaluates if motherhood is in her future because of her BRCA gene mutation. Kat is eager to flaunt her social media influence by partnering with a beauty brand that offers her an opportunity to be their spokesperson. Meanwhile, Sutton makes her first major fashion department decision without Oliver.
The girls take a trip to Sutton’s hometown and meet a few important figures from her past. Meanwhile, Jane struggles with planning for her future, and Kat feels a rift in her relationship with Adena.
Sutton's professional dreams come true when she jets off to Paris for Fashion Week, but while there she gains a new perspective on her situation. Jane moves forward with her fertility plan until she learns surprising news about her options and is faced with Ben and Pinstripe's different solutions. Kat faces pressure from Jacqueline to make their Paris party a success while attempting to reset her relationship with Adena.