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Series / The Bold Type

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The Bold Type is a 2017 romantic work dramedy on Freeform.

It follows the lives of three young women working at Scarlet, a women's interest magazine in New York City — newly promoted staff writer Jane (Katie Stevens), social media director Kat (Aisha Dee), and editorial assistant Sutton (Meghann Fahy).

Despite their outwardly confident personalities, they're each struggling with their own insecurities and personal issues: Jane's anxiety about her new position and impressing Scarlet's editor-in-chief Jaqueline (Melora Hardin), Kat coming to terms with her sexual orientation after meeting outspoken photographer Adena (Nikohl Boosheri), and Sutton's secret relationship with Scarlet board member and publishing lawyer Richard (Sam Page).

The Bold Type contains examples of the following tropes:

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  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Jane's Big Breakup in her past happened on her birthday, when her boyfriend dumped her as they were standing in the train station to leave for a vacation.
  • Accidental Adultery: Sutton hooks up with a handsome man she met at a bar, but on their next date learns that he is married. She tracks down his wife to explain what happened, apologizing but also making it clear that she didn't know he was married. The wife takes the news in good form, understanding that it was her husband who did the actual cheating, not Sutton.
  • Actor Allusion: Season 5 episode 3 Jacqueline is seen with a Dunder Mifflin mug, where Melora Hardin played the very opposite Jan Levinson.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
  • Alcoholic Parent: Sutton's estranged mother Babs was an alcoholic which led to Sutton leaving home at age 16. When Sutton has to contact her in order to get her birth certificate for a passport, Babs reveals she's been working on sobriety and has improved her life since, leading her and Sutton to reconnect again.
  • Anorgasmia: Jane admits she's never had an orgasm in "O Hell No", despite being assigned to write a sex article. She ultimately makes it the subject of her article.
  • Apologises a Lot: Jacqueline explicitly tells Jane not to apologise when she has nothing to apologise for. As required by the genre, Jane then apologises for apologizing.
  • "Begone" Bribe: Sort-of. Sutton needs to get access to the security footage of a business near where she lost a $5,000.00 pendant, but the store owner refuses. She and Alex try various bribes and threats to get him to acquiesce, all to no success, until he eventually agrees to let them watch the tapes provided they go away.
  • Big Applesauce: They all live and work in New York City, with all the benefits (and drawbacks) that arise. They love the culture and opportunities, but are forced to live together in tiny shared apartments with no isolation anywhere in the city.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Sutton tells Alex that she hates the Mayor's recorded message that plays in taxis, since it makes it seem like he's there in the cab. Alex jokingly replies that Big Brother is always watching, which helps Sutton figure out how to solve her problem.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When Kat is thinking about flying home with Adena, she jokingly asks her to explain how to say "What is the WiFi password?" in Persian. Adena responds in Farsi, but it is not subtitled and Kat says that she does not think it means what she asked for. The translation of what Adena said is "I am a ridiculous American. Please help me".
  • Bookends: The series opens with Jane entering Scarlet on her first day as a writer. The first season ends with Jane leaving Scarlet after taking a job at Incite.
  • Broken Aesop: The episode Betsy is focused on the polarizing argument between those who are for and against guns in civilian hands in the US, Sutton being for it and Jane being against it. The episode takes a surprisingly neutral stance, characterizing both sides well right up until the end when Sutton goes over to Jane's side and gives up her gun.
  • Bully Hunter: When Adena is harassed on the street by a bigot, Kat demands an apology and then slugs the man when he tries to push Adena aside. Unfortunately, she is arrested by a police patrol car that was passing by which saw her punch the man.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Kat is on a date with a new guy, they run into the same street violinist that she and Adena had seen when they were together several episodes earlier. Kat is very excited to see him again, but the guy she is with is dismissive and unappreciative of the performance.
    • In the first season finale, the three women toast their past year's adventures by repeating Jacqueline's toast from the first episode.
  • The Cameo:
    • Joanna Coles, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan whose life inspired the series, appears on the red carpet at the anniversary party in the first episode. She also provides the narration for the Previously on… in each episode.
    • Demi Lovato is featured in the issue of Scarlet being compiled in the first episode, the cover of which is blown up and displayed behind Jacqueline during her big speech at the end of the episode.
  • Chain of Deals: Downplayed when Sutton tries to impress Oliver. He wants a specific pendant to use in a fashion show which the designer won't loan him, so Sutton calls up a fellow assistant who works for that company to work out a deal. Sutton will get the pendant and she will loan the other assistant a dress from Scarlet's stock to wear to a wedding.

  • Character Shilling: Jane. While some shilling is to be expected, as she is loosely based on real-life Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, whose career inspired the show, the show keeps insisting that she's a brilliant young writer while never actually showing most of her writing. Later seasons also push the notion that she will become the new Editor-in-Chief at Scarlet, but when she's given her own bullpen to lead, she fails so badly at management that one of the writers quits and the other writer complains that Jane is ignoring her. The nadir is probably "Day Trippers", in which Jacqueline formally announces her plans to make Jane her successor - after an episode in which Jane not only ignores Jacqueline's orders to take a day off to deal with her obvious stress, but instead shows up to work high as a kite.

  • Closet Key: Adena is this for Kat, who insistently states that she is "totally hetero" but finds herself drawn to Adena almost from the moment they meet. Kat both admits her feelings to herself and confesses them to Adena in the fourth episode.
  • Coming-Out Story: The first four episodes deal heavily with Kat questioning her sexuality. She has always identified as straight, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Adena.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In season two, Sutton tells the story of when she accidentally attended high tea and as a result why she does not eat petits fours anymore.
    • When he assigns Sutton to create an outfit for a board member's date to an award show, Oliver off-handedly mentions that he thinks Sutton must know the board member — Richard — since he had put in a good word for her when Oliver was hiring.
    • Jane is nominated for a Mandy Award for her article "Carry the Weight", from the first season finale.
  • Culture Clash: Kat and Adena struggle with overcoming their different personal histories, but also manage to bond over the same situations.

  • Dating Service Disaster: The three women decide to go on a group date when they are all single at the same time. Jane and Sutton's dates go wrong from the beginning — Jane's date will not let her complete her own thoughts and Sutton realizes that she is the "bad date" when she cannot stop talking about her ex — but Kat's goes well and they have great chemistry. Until they leave the restaurant and he mocks the street violinist that Kat & Adena had seen together and tries to rush Kat back to his place.
  • Daydream Surprise: Kat has an Erotic Dream about a friend of Adena's that is framed as really happening until she wakes up in the middle of it.
  • Didn't Think This Through: More than once, one of the girls will make a big change based on a whim and get chewed out by Jacqueline for it as magazines require a lot of prep work without a last-minute change.
  • Destructo-Nookie: When Jane finally begins to have very good sex, the apartment is never unscathed afterwards. When she proudly boasts to Kat and Sutton that she broke a lamp the night before, Sutton corrects her that she broke several lamps.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: At the end of the season, Sutton and Richard are side-by-side in an elevator and begin to turn just as the doors close. Whether they are moving towards each other to resume their relationship, or are just going to talk about their issues, is obscured by the doors. Season two reveals that Sutton and Richard did indeed have post-breakup sex, but Sutton insists it was only twice and that they're still broken up.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper:
    • When Jane is sued by the subject of one of her articles who feels that Jane's article was condescending and revealed her true identity, they and their lawyers have a sit-down to discuss a settlement. Jane's attempts to defend herself come across as even more condescending, and she culminates by derogatorily saying that 'exposing' her is not a problem since she is a stripper and exposes herself every night.
    • When Jane doesn't get a job because they are looking for "diversity", she resents that she is losing out to somebody less qualified because of something out of her control. Kat has to explain that that is the universal professional experience of people of color, and Jane's attempt explain that she isn't racist just makes her come across worse and worse.
  • Double Entendre: The woman of Scarlet have a specific term for somebody who is Sleeping Their Way to the Top: "Screwing Up".
  • Double Standard:
    • Discussed when Jane & Kat discover that Sutton is sleeping with Richard. They point out that if the relationship ever comes to light, Sutton's career will be ruined and she will be accused of "Screwing Up", while Richard will get a pat on the back and congratulations from his fellow executives. When changes to company policy in season two mean that their relationship wouldn't be officially forbidden anymore, Sutton points out that she will still be shamed and socially harassed far more than he would.
    • Discussed when the girls take part in a topless event to raise awareness for breast cancer. When several photos of topless women are taken down by Instagram, Kat protests by posting pictures of classical nude statuary and men's nipples.
  • Erotic Dream:
    • When she is still coming to terms with her feelings for Adena, Kat has a sex dream about her. This is one of the things that makes her delve deeper into what she is truly feeling.
    • When one of Adena's friends (And implied old flames) asks to stop by the apartment while Adena is away to borrow a camera tripod, Kat dreams that it was just a pretext for something more intimate.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Alex jokes that Big Brother Is Watching, Sutton gets the idea to go check the security cameras of businesses near where she lost her $5000 pendant.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In "Day Trippers," the girls try to spark their creativity by "micro-dosing" on mushrooms. Then each one decides to add "just a dash" more powder to it which leads to all three showing up for their jobs high as hell.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Jane's casual boyfriend is named "Ryan", but everybody calls him "Pinstripe" or "Pinstripe Guy" because he works at Pinstripe, another magazine in the building.
  • Expy: Scarlet is based on Cosmopolitan, but it's also reminiscent of Teen Vogue's new focus in politics.

  • Family of Choice: When Sutton says that she can't take the same risks that Nora Ephron took because she doesn't have wealthy parents to fall back on, Kat and Jane say that they are Sutton's "safety net". If she winds up losing her job, Kat will let Sutton live with her rent-free, and Jane will sublet her room month-to-month so she can reclaim it once she is back on her feet.
  • Fanservice: And lots of it throughout the series. Mostly from our three main characters, but a few of their guy friends get in a few shirtless scenes.
  • Fashion Magazine: Scarlet is a magazine about fashion.
  • Firing Day: Two episodes deal with firings and layoffs at Scarlet:
    • In "Three Girls in a Tub", Kat spends the episode trying to reign in a new employee who just can't seem to get a handle on running social media for a publication like Scarlet. When her posts keep opening up the magazine to potential legal difficulties and outraging celebrities, Kat ultimately realizes that she has to fire the new employee for the good of the magazine. The situation is exacerbated because she was the very first person that Kat had hired as well.
    • In "The End of the Beginning" there are layoff rumors swirling all around Steinem Publishing, and Kat knows that the rumors are true. Jane and Sutton both fear for their jobs and try to prove their worth to the company, while Kat has to deal with not giving them any information since she is in management and the information is privileged. Despite sympathizing with their worries, Kat almost wishes that her own job was in jeopardy because it might motivate her to do something more with her life. Jane and Sutton's jobs are saved, but Jane ultimately decides to leave anyway when she gets a job offer from another magazine.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Discussed and averted. Jane and Sutton have to share an apartment because they are both living on an assistant's salary, while Kat can afford her own apartment because she was promoted well before them. When Sutton transfers to the fashion department and learns that it comes with an unexpected pay cut, she realizes that she would not be able to afford her half of the rent and Jane would need to sublet her room in order to cover the payments. Although, as the showrunner admitted in an interview, it is a nice shared apartment.
    • And when Sutton moves in with Richard, Jane's boyfriend Pinstripe moves in with Jane. Then when he goes on his book tour for a few months, Jane sublets her room to her co-worker Alex. Later, after Jane breaks up with Pinstripe and Kat quits her job at Scarlett which also results in her parents refusing to cover the rent for her, Jane invites Kat move in.
    • Also worth noting it's a one-bedroom, Sutton's "room" is a bed behind the couch and it's unclear if the landlord is aware of the setup.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: When Kat mentions how much she is enjoying "uncomplicated heterosexuality", the guy she is on a date with gleefully asks for details on when she was with a woman.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: When Adena is refused entry into the country and will be deported back to her home, Kat buys a first-class ticket on the same flight for $11,000 so that she can visit her at the airport and fly with her. Though she does comfort her through the night, Kat ultimately cannot bring herself to fly to a foreign country on a whim.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Kat horribly mangles a sports analogy when talking to Sutton. Sutton points out that Kat must not watch sports, and Kat admits to not even one second.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Kat describes herself as an "out and proud hetero" when Adena asks her orientation, and likewise repeats "I'm hetero" multiple times when talking to Jane. By that point it has become obvious that she is in denial of her own feelings, as her last "I'm hetero" ends with the question "right?" and Jane asks if she is trying to convince her.

  • I Am One of Those, Too: When Sutton applies for an assistant's job in the fashion division, Oliver mixes her resume up with another applicant and thinks she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. Afterwards, people who did go to FIT want to come and talk to her about their shared experiences.
  • Iconic Song Request: The man Kat is on a date with shouts "Free Bird" when they run into the same street violinist she had seen when she was out with Adena. This dismissiveness is one of the things that gets her to end the evening.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: Jane cried out "I love you" when she and Pinstripe were having shower sex. When she afterwards tried to walk it back, she was disappointed when Pinstripe already disregarded it since he knew "what this is". Her disappointment at his reaction, despite being what she wanted, is one of the things that gets Jane to realize that their casual relationship is not what she is looking for.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: When Jane is going to be on a panel and is very nervous, she laments the reasons why she can't do this. Since Jacqueline (Her boss), Pinstripe (Her unclassified casual boyfriend), and Richard (Sutton's boyfriend) will all be there, it would just be too awkward.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: When Jane starts having (good) sex with Pinstripe, Sutton can hear her during the event. As she points out the next day, the walls in their apartment are very thin, and she jokes that Jacqueline probably heard them.
  • Improbable Age: Kat is director of social media at 25, which several people remark is young for such an important position.
  • Instant Emergency Response: When Kat punches a bigot who was harassing Adena, a police patrol car pulls up with lights flashing immediately.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Jacqueline and her husband are about to leave for their romantic, fancy anniversary dinner when Jacqueline gets a call about a crisis that takes up the rest of the night. She has to cancel the dinner, and the two of them are forced to makeup with a dinner in her office the next night.
  • In Vino Veritas: When the office building is locked down due to a nearby presidential visit and resultant street protests, Jane, Sutton, Alex, and Pinstripe are stuck there for hours. The group becomes steadily more inebriated as they pass the time drinking cocktails, and as they do the Sutton/Alex sexual tension reaches its climax and Jane/Pinstripe discuss and reevaluate their own relationship. Jane is also motivated to accept the job offer at Incite.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Kat makes a post about the way new technology is tailored without regard for women users, the internet backlash is sexist and personal. As she remarks when discussing it with Sutton, she made a post calling them misogynist, and they responded by acting misogynist.
  • It's All About Me: When Kat makes a public mistake that might expose their relationship, Sutton and Richard are each focused on how their own careers would be impacted. It is one of the ways the show highlights their different professional positions.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted; much drama comes from the fact that Sutton went to college at Penn State. It is a respectable school in and of itself, but is neither as prestigious as the Ivy League nor specifically associated with fashion. Eventually, Oliver confides that he does not have a prestigious background either, and like her he worked his way up in fashion from the bottom.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Kat is in the middle of a tweet-storm about an upcoming Scarlet event when Adena calls her to talk about them, and when she takes the call Jane & Sutton start texting her to see what is going on. As she tries to handle all three conversations, Kat winds up accidentally sending a text meant for Sutton/Jane out over the official Scarlet twitter account.

  • Lipstick Lesbian: Adena is a lesbian and feminine. Kat, who is questioning her sexuality, is feminine as well.
  • Loophole Abuse: Due to signed contract, Kat has to make a number of videos where she says positive things about the cosmetic products of a company that she has learned is run by a racist, homophobic CEO. To avoid being sued she makes the required video where she lists the product's positive qualities, and then goes on to explain how the company was hoping to use her hiring as a window dressing to dodge the upcoming controversy. Since she did make the video and included the endorsement of the products itself, she technically complied exactly with the contract requirements.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Love, though incredibly important, sometimes isn't enough on its own. This is the case when Sutton and Richard find that they simply want different things for their family. However, this is subverted in the series finale when Richard decides to forgo wanting children and remain married to Sutton.
  • Love Triangle: Sutton and Richard are dating, but they need to keep it a secret because of his high position. Alex is simultaneously developing feelings for Sutton. When Alex learns of Sutton's relationship with Richard while they are in the middle of a zany scheme together, he tells her that he would have tried to kiss her right then if she had not been with somebody.
  • May–December Romance: Downplayed with Sutton and Richard's relationship. Their distance in years is relatively small, but is enough of a divergence for them to count themselves as being in two separate generations. It comes to a head in "Three Girls in a Tub", when Sutton is accidentally high and Jane is drunk at what was supposed to be a get-to-know-you dinner party, and Richard needs to help take care of them and reflect that this is not a life that he can engage in anymore.
  • Mean Boss:
    • Throughout season one the show introduces several characters that superficially fit the mean boss archetype, but subverts the trope with each of them.
      • Jacqueline is kinder and more thoughtful than similar characters of her type, and becomes a mentor to Jane specifically. Later on she extends her advice services to Kat and Sutton too.
        Adena: I wish I had a Jacqueline.
      • Lauren is not as personable and nice as Jacqueline, but when Sutton says she wants to advance professionally Lauren recommends her for multiple positions at the company and gives her a "gushing" personal recommendation.
      • When Sutton transfers from Lauren to Oliver, her very first day starts with Oliver criticizing her for being 'on time' (You are on time if you are early) and he quickly buries her in the same kind of mundane, boring work she had under Lauren. However, he also gives her an affectionate nickname right away, and when she manages on her second day to get him the fancy pendant he wanted to use in a photoshoot he tells her he is honestly impressed...then buries her in more work. As time goes on Oliver too becomes a mentor for her.
    • Played straight in season two with Victoria, the editor of Incite. She heavily rewriters Jane's first article to slant the perspective against the subject. When Jane gives an interview where she suggests that sensationalizing people makes the meaning of a story get lost, Victoria fires her the next day.
    • Zig-zagged with Patrick (the new head of Scarlet’s digital department). While there’s no underlying malice, and he has occasionally provided some tips that have helped both the girls and ''Scarlet'' move forward and keep up with the times, the reason he gets on others' nerves is by interrupting and talking over the other women (including Jacqueline) frequently and he's more arrogant in believing he knows more about the magazine’s topics and audience (a.k.a. women) than they do. After Jacqueline gets fired then rehired (and Scarlet-becomes digital-only), Patrick decides to resign from Scarlet, admitting to Jacqueline that she is by far a more beloved boss than him by the Scarlet staff.
  • Meaningful Name: The publishing company which owns Scarlet is Steinem Publishing. This is named for Gloria Steinem, a feminist journalist and social activist.
  • Meet Cute: Jane first meets Ryan after loudly talking about her vagina on the phone in an elevator.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Jane's mother died when she was young. One reason she loves Scarlet is that it helped step in and fill the missing void, although Jane specifically refers to it as being like an older sister.
    • Sutton’s mother Babs was an alcoholic, leading Sutton to leave home when she was 16. Sutton reluctantly has to go see her to get her birth certificate for her passport, in which Babs also tries to make amends, revealing she has gotten sober and been currently working towards a better life.
  • Mistaken for Racist: In the midst of her exploring her own sexuality, Kat accidentally sends a tweet from the official Scarlet account that was meant to go only to Sutton & Jane. She deleted it as soon as she realized what she had done, but Jacqueline saw it regardless. After scolding her for making the mistake, though, Jacqueline obviously realized that Kat was talking about her own situation and not sending homophobic messages.
  • Most Writers Are Writers:
    • Jane, the closest of the three to being the "main" character, is on the writing staff for Scarlet.
    • Kat is in charge of Scarlet's social media, and writes their tweets, blog posts, and other press releases.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: A rare male example with Richard. He wants a family, which becomes a discussion point in his and Sutton's relationship due to the age gap and Sutton also being on the fence and talks about how he doesn't want to become a first time dad in his fifties. When Sutton's miscarriage makes her realize she doesn't want children at all, he's not too happy, especially since they already agreed on freezing his sperm and a five-year wait on pursuing parenthood.
    • When Jane finds out she has the BRCA1 gene which increases her risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer, she has to consider fertility options when thinking about preventative measures.

  • Nemesis as Customer: In the episode "Snow Day", Kat finds her new bartending job imperiled when she discovers one of her customers is Ava Rose, daughter (and personal attorney) of R.J. Safford, whose career she ended with her activism. Despite her efforts to avoid Rose, they end up in an argument and Kat is nearly fired.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: When talking to Adena about what she would do if she lost her job and suddenly had no obligations holding her in place, Kat reveals that she got her job at Scarlet because her father knew somebody and made a call on her behalf. However, that was only her original position as an assistant, and she earned her promotion to department head on her own.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Discussed and explored in various ways when the girls take part in a topless event to raise awareness for breast cancer.
    • According to NY law, in any locale where men are allowed to be topless, women are also allowed to be topless. However, in-universe when Kat posts topless photos of women to Instagram on the Scarlet account they are removed. She protests by posting images of classical nude statuary and men's nipples in order to highlight the hypocrisy.
    • The show itself plays the trope straight, as all shots of the women are from the neck-up or from the back, even though topless men are directly featured.
  • The Noodle Incident: The time Sutton dented her vibrator.
  • No Woman's Land: Adena's homeland is very repressive towards women. Sex toys are flat-out illegal, and Adena is arrested when she tries to smuggle a few disassembled models home.
  • One Phone Call: After Kat is arrested, she calls the Scarlet main line because she cannot remember either Jane or Sutton's cell phone numbers. Neither of them is at work yet, but thankfully Jacqueline is passing by the reception desk when the call comes in and understands what it means when the receptionist confusedly asks why Kat only has one call.
  • Opposites Attract: Kat, a "feminist, socialist activist" seems to be falling in love with "NRA card carrying, Republican" Ava. And it looks like she's falling too. Though it's eventually subverted when Kat breaks up with Ava.
  • Police Brutality: The fear of how she — a Muslim woman living in the modern America — will be treated by the police causes Adena to flee when Kat is arrested. Since Kat was arrested for punching a man to protect her, Kat is shocked at the abandonment, but comes to understand her fear.
  • Pop-Up Texting: A frequent technique to show text conversations between the characters, and also to show aspects of Kat's social media job.
  • Previously on…: Narrated by Joanna Coles at the opening to each episode.
  • Race for Your Love: When Kat finally admits to herself that she wants everything with Adena, including the emotional entanglements that she has always avoided in relationships, she runs to Adena's apartment to apologize and tell her that she is all-in. After Kat's confession, Adena reveals that she has booked a flight to Paris to work things out with Coco.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: Jane feels unworthy of joining a panel of respected journalists, especially since Lydia Brooks has won a Peabody Award.
  • Rom Com Job: Each of the three protagonists work at a fashion magazine.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: The text-analogue: Kat sends Adena a text saying that she cannot deal with the emotions and situation of her breakup, and then shuts her phone off so that Adena cannot respond.

  • Saying Too Much: Richard is trying to talk up Sutton for her new job, and tells Oliver that even though Sutton does not have any formal training in fashion she is the right person for the job. Unfortunately, Oliver had mixed up Sutton's resume with another applicant and thought she went to FIT, and Richard made him realize that Sutton had gone along with the mistake and lied to him.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Jacqueline tries this when an extended presidential dinner at a nearby restaurant forces a lockdown of the building. She calls the owner of the restaurant and tells him to send over the check. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have any actual effect on the time frame.
  • Secretly Wealthy: It is implied throughout the first season that Kat comes from a much more affluent background than Jane or Sutton. Her father was able to make a call to arrange for her to get a job at Scarlet, and her parents have enough unused frequent-flyer miles to purchase an $11,000 first-class plane ticket at a moment's notice. It eventually comes out that her parents are both successful psychiatrists and gave her a financially privileged upbringing.
  • Seen It All: When Kat asks an intern to let her take a picture of his nipple, he pulls his shirt up right then without asking for any kind of clarification. When she remarks on his instant compliance, he explains that it has been a long summer as an intern, and this was far from the weirdest thing he was asked to do.
  • Self-Harm: Nikohl Boosheri, Adena's actor, has theorized that Coco has a history of self-harm.
  • Sex Sells:
    • It is a common preconception that Scarlet as a periodical is only focused on beauty tips for women and discussions about sex. All of the characters discuss the ways this does and does not apply, with Jane writing current pieces on politics and culture and Jacqueline pushing for more of the same with the board of directors. Even Kat and Sutton, whose jobs really are "only" about fashion, talk about the ways that "just" being about fashion is really about so much more.
    • When there are layoffs looming in the company which owns Scarlet, Jacqueline tries to subtly prod Jane to write something more publicly successful than the social/political pieces she has been working on. When Jane confusedly mentions the incident to Kat, who knows about the layoffs, she tries to push her in that direction as well. Jane winds up writing about "butt facelifts" after pitching several other pieces on sex.
      Kat: Love and sex are always sticky.
    • See Fanservice above, as the sex lives of the three main characters are the primary focus of the story.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • The first half of Season 4 is this for Ryan and Jane.
    • The second half is the same for Sutton and Richard.
  • Shipper on Deck: Sutton is extremely supportive of Kat and Adena's potential relationship, telling Kat how romantic and amazing each of her gestures are.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Richard jokingly says "Mr. Grey will see you now" when he is giving Sutton an information interview.
    • When Jane goes to Pinstripe's apartment, she asks if he has a telescope because he is a fan of astronomy, or if it is a Rear Window situation.
    • Jane tells Pinstripe that he sounds like Batman when he says "Tell me what you want". He says that that is a good thing.
    • When Kat tells Jane and Sutton that she and Adena kissed, they all three quote the Katy Perry song "I Kissed a Girl".
    • When discussing Sutton's career prospects at Scarlet, Jane tells her to take a lead from Nora Ephron and the way her career started in the 60s.
    • Richard jokingly calls Sutton a pretty little liar when she confesses that their first meeting came because Sutton wanted to ditch a Tinder date, and not because Jane had stood her up.
    • Kat reveals that she quotes Nicki Minaj lyrics during sex.
    "Pound it like a hashtag."
    • When Jane sees Kat carrying oversized props (Including a shield) for a focus group, she asks her if winter is coming.
    • The first season finale is titled "Carry the Weight" and includes ongoing references to the Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). Instead of carrying a mattress, a rape survivor whose attacker wasn't even brought to trial is carrying the Scales of Justice.
  • Shower of Love: Jane and Pinstripe try to get intimate in her shower, and the entire affair is incredibly awkward as they try to position themselves in the small and slippery space. They do eventually find a position that works, but it is short lived.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top:
    • The women of Scarlet have a specific term for it: "Screwing up". Sutton insists that this isn't what she is doing with Richard, and tells him not to help her career at the magazine when she tries for a promotion. When he tries to casually put in a good word for her anyway, Sutton becomes concerned that she is Screwing Up, but Richard tries to reassure her that he is only helping her career because he feels that she deserves it.
    • In season two, Sutton is horrified to learn that there are rumors that she is indeed sleeping her way to the top....with Alex. The other Fashion Assistants claim that he gives her his fashion assignments because the two of them are sleeping together. Sutton is at first relieved that they don't know about the secret relationship she had with Richard, but then is crushed at the thought that maybe Alex really is giving her the assignments because of the brief fling they had back in season one.
  • Slut-Shaming:
    • Mitzy was spreading rumors around Scarlet that Sutton was getting all of the good fashion assignments because she was sleeping with Alex. Sutton ultimately had to explicitly tell her that the slut shaming act had to end, and that if she truly believed Sutton couldn't do the job then she should come at her abilities, not rumors.
    • Brooke Langley 'jokingly' asked Sutton if anybody ever nicknamed her "Slutton", and Sutton had to retort that none of her friends did, no. This seems to be what gets her to realize that Brooke is not the best friend to have around.
  • Spear Counterpart:
    • Pinstripe is suggested to be this for Scarlet. They are a magazine targeted towards men as opposed to Scarlet's female demographic, and they have their offices one floor down in the same building.
    • When Jane first begins to date Pinstripe, Sutton and Kat talk about how he is Jane's mirror image.
  • Stealing the Credit: When the lead on a fashion shoot cannot handle the pressure after unexpectedly winding up in charge, she fakes a phone call and runs off the set. Sutton steps up to run the entire shoot, but afterwards when Jacqueline compliments the two of them on how well it turned out the other woman keeps all the credit for herself. Afterwards, Jacqueline confronts Sutton over letting her steal the credit like that, pointing out that she cannot let herself be taken advantage of.
  • Straw Feminist: Jane has shades of this throughout the series. It's part of the reasons she dislikes Patrick so very much.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • More than once, one of the girls will make a big change based on a whim and get chewed out by Jacqueline for it as magazines require a lot of prep work without a last-minute change.
    • The fourth season addresses the realities of the publishing industry in the 2020s with Scarlett forced to become a digital magazine rather than print.
    • Love, though incredibly important, sometimes isn't enough on its own. This is the case when Sutton and Richard find that they simply want different things for their family.

  • The Taxi: Sutton accidentally leaves a $5,000.00 designer pendant in a taxi when she has to meet Jane for an emotional emergency, and since she cannot remember even the company of the taxi she has no idea how to get it back. They start by calling every taxi company in New York asking for the lost & found, and then Sutton gets the idea of checking the security footage of nearby businesses to try and spot herself. She does find the taxi company this way, and learns that the driver did turn in the pendant to the lost & found.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: When Sutton successfully negotiates for perks to offset her salary, she proudly tells Jane "I'm Nora Ephron, bitch!"
  • Token Minority: Kat is approached by a cosmetics company that wants her to be the face of their new ad campaign. After she signs the contract she learns that a news story is about to break about their CEO donating money to racist and anti-LGBTQ organizations, and she realizes they were hoping that hiring a queer black woman would blunt the criticism.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Jane's mother died of breast cancer when she was young, and Jane still carries the emotional scars. When she is assigned to write an article on a doctor who recommends women begin a certain type of breast cancer testing in their twenties, Jane's fear that she may have that specific predisposition and her unwillingness to face it makes her lash out at the doctor and those around her. At the end of the episode Jane learns that she does have the predisposition, which means that her odds of getting breast cancer are significantly higher.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Sutton tries to strike up a friendship with "influencer" Brooke Langley to network and help her career. Unfortunately, Brooke's partying is much more risqué than simple barhopping — including $500 of cocaine on Sutton's Scarlet credit card — and her idea of helping Sutton get over Richard is just to drown it out with alcohol.
  • Truth in Television: Steinem Publishing is struggling with the industry-wide slump hitting print publishing in real life. Several magazines are being closed down or converted to digital-only, and even Scarlet — the most successful magazine in their stable — is suffering layoffs.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Adena is a lesbian Muslim woman, and so receives hostility from multiple different directions.
    • Kat is biracial and attracted to both men and women, and in the second season comes to identify as a queer black woman.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: Sutton attends high tea to network for work, and does not realize that it's high tea. She eats several petits fours ("pot fours") before one of the other attendees' notices and explains.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Adena's home country is implied to be Iran, but is never explicitly identified. It is only ever referred to as "home" and "my/her country", and the information we are given is just vague enough to potentially refer to neighboring regions.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: In season three the episode "TBT" shows how how the characters met.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Each of the protagonists is this to varying degrees, but Jane fits this trope the most.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Downplayed when Sutton asks for Lauren's support in getting the job in the fashion department. She gives an impassioned speech about why she deserves the job, and is ready to argue the point, and is taken off guard when Lauren nonchalantly agrees after the first speech.
  • Worth It: After Adena explains that she feels guilty for kissing Kat and cheating on Coco, Kat says that she doesn't regret what happened, and Adena says she doesn't, either.
  • You Will Be Spared: One of Sutton's friends jokes that Sutton will be spared her wrath after Sutton plans to one day run the city.