Suddenly Susan

Suddenly Susan is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from September 19, 1996, until December 26, 2000. The series was created by Clyde Phillips and starred Brooke Shields in her first regular series. Shields played Susan Keane, a glamorous San Francisco magazine writer who begins to adjust to being single, and who learns to be independent-minded after having been taken care of all her life. The series was developed by Gary Dontzig and Steven Peterman, who also served as executive producers during the first three seasons, and was produced by Warner Bros. Television.

Suddenly Susan
1997 promotional Emmy advertisement
Created by Clyde Phillips
Developed by Steven Peterman
Gary Dontzig
Starring Brooke Shields
Nestor Carbonell
Kathy Griffin
Judd Nelson
Barbara Barrie
David Strickland
Andrea Bendewald
Sherri Shepherd
Eric Idle
Rob Estes
Currie Graham
Opening theme "Ode to Joy" (cover version), composed by Ed Alton
(season 1)
"Nothing on Me", performed by Shawn Colvin (seasons 2–3)
Two unknown themes, composed by Ed Alton
(season 4)
Composer(s) Ed Alton
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 93
Executive producer(s) Gary Dontzig
Steven Peterman
(both; seasons 1–3)
Christopher Vane
(mid-late season 3)
Maria Semple
(mid-season 3 – season 4)
Mark Driscoll (season 4)
Camera setup Film; Multi-camera
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release September 19, 1996 – December 26, 2000


The show takes place at The Gate, a fictitious magazine which is based in San Francisco. Among the magazine's employees is Susan Keane (Brooke Shields), who always has been cared for by someone else. However, when she realizes that she and her wealthy, vain fiancé, Kip, are not meant for each other and that there’s more to life than just being known as the "s" in "The Kip Richmonds", she abruptly leaves him at the altar. Now, she’s suddenly just Susan.

Susan's boss, Jack Richmond (Judd Nelson), the rebellious brother of Susan's former fiancé, Kip, assigns Susan to write a regular column about being suddenly single. Susan's coworkers include photographer Luis Rivera (Nestor Carbonell), boyish rock music reporter Todd Stities (David Strickland), restaurant critic Vicki Groener (Kathy Griffin), and, in later episodes, investigative reporter (and Susan's old enemy) Maddy Piper (Andréa Bendewald). Susan's grandmother and confidant, Nana (Barbara Barrie), stands as a loving pillar of encouragement in Susan's otherwise hectic life. Susan's parents also appeared a few times each season, as played by guest stars Swoosie Kurtz and Ray Baker.

Besides the task of putting together a magazine and focusing on the lead character's life, Suddenly Susan also focuses on the private lives of many employees in the show.



Season 1 (1996–97)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"First Episode"Andy AckermanTeleplay by: Gary Dontzig & Steven Peterman & Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore & Clyde Phillips
Story by: Clyde Phillips
September 19, 1996
22"Dr. No"Steve ZuckermanDan O'ShannonSeptember 26, 1996
33"The Best Laid Plans"Shelley JensenMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsOctober 3, 1996
44"Suddenly Susan Unplugged"Steve ZuckermanRick Singer & Andrew GreenOctober 10, 1996
55"Hoop Dreams"Shelly JensenHeather MacGillvray & Linda MathiousOctober 17, 1996
66"Lie! Lie! My Darling"Shelley JensenIan PraiserOctober 31, 1996
77"Golden Girl Friday"Shelley JensenRick Singer & Andrew GreenNovember 7, 1996
88"Beauty and the Beasty Boy"Steve ZuckermanMaryanne MelloanNovember 14, 1996
99"Cold Turkey"Rod DanielTeleplay by: Dan O'Shannon
Story by: Gary Dontzig & Steven Peterman
November 21, 1996
1010"Was It Something I Said?"Steve ZuckermanMarc FlanaganDecember 12, 1996
1111"The Walk-Out"Barnet KellmanHeather MacGillvray & Linda MathiousDecember 19, 1996
1212"The Me Nobody Nose"Shelley JensenMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsJanuary 9, 1997
1313"The Ways and Means"Gail MancusoJana BartoFebruary 27, 1997
1414"What a Card"Shelley JensenRick Singer & Andrew GreenMarch 6, 1997
1515"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 1"Shelley JensenIan PraiserMarch 13, 1997
1616"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 2"Pamela FrymanDan O'ShannonMarch 20, 1997
1717"Love and Divorce American Style: Part 3"Pamela FrymanSusan FalesMarch 27, 1997
1818"With Friends Like These"Shelley JensenMaryanne MelloanApril 10, 1997
1919"Where the Wild Things Aren't"Shelley JensenMaryanne MelloanApril 17, 1997
2020"A Boy Like That"Shelley JensenGary Dontzig & Steven PetermanApril 24, 1997
2121"Family Affairs"Gail MancusoPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMay 1, 1997
2222"I'll See That and Raise You Susan"Shelley JensenNeil J. DeiterMay 8, 1997

Season 2 (1997–98)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
231"I Love You, I Think"Tom MooreSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigSeptember 22, 1997
242"Past Tense"Tom MooreMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsSeptember 29, 1997
253"Truth and Consequences"Pamela FrymanChristopher VaneOctober 6, 1997
264"Next Stop, Heaven"Shelley JensenBecky Hartman EdwardsOctober 13, 1997
275"Susan's Minor Complication"Shelley JensenChuck TathamOctober 20, 1997
286"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Maddy World"Shelley JensenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenNovember 3, 1997
297"It's My Nana and I'll Cry If I Want To"Pamela FrymanChuck TathamNovember 10, 1997
308"A Kiss Before Dying...on Stage"Tom MooreDrew Vaupen & Phil BakerNovember 17, 1997
319"The Old and the Beautiful"Philip Charles MacKenzieRick Singer & Andrew GreenNovember 24, 1997
3210"I Didn't Write This"Pamela FrymanLisa AlbertDecember 8, 1997
3311"Yule Never Know"Philip Charles MacKenzieMimi Friedman & Jeanette CollinsDecember 15, 1997
3412"A Kiss is Just Amiss"Tom MooreChristopher VaneJanuary 5, 1998
3513"The Big Shalom"Alan RafkinRick Singer & Andrew GreenJanuary 12, 1998
3614"Matchmaker, Matchmaker"Alan RafkinBecky Hartman EdwardsJanuary 19, 1998
3715"Car Trouble"Shelley JensenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenJanuary 26, 1998
3816"Ready...Aim...Fong!"Shelley JensenChuck TathamFebruary 2, 1998
3917"Daddy Piper"Joyce GittlinDan O'ShannonMarch 9, 1998
4018"Not in This Life"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Christopher VaneMarch 16, 1998
4119"Models and Strippers and Wasps, Oh My!"Tom MooreDavid KirkwoodApril 6, 1998
4220"Poetry in Notion"Joanna KernsBecky Hartman EdwardsApril 6, 1998
4321"Pucker Up"Philip Charles MacKenzieAndrew GreenApril 13, 1998
4422"5,947 Miles"Philip Charles MacKenzieJana BartoApril 20, 1998
"A Tale of Two Pants"Roger Christiansen
Alan Rafkin
Michael McCarthy
Rick Singer
May 4, 1998
"Oh, How They Danced"Shelley JensenSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigMay 18, 1998

Season 3 (1998–99)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
491"Birds Do It, Bees Do It, Even Some of These Do It"Shelley JensenSteven Peterman & Gary DontzigSeptember 21, 1998
502"Feels Like the First Time"Shelley JensenChristopher VaneSeptember 28, 1998
513"Don't Tell"Philip Charles MacKenzieMaria SempleOctober 5, 1998
524"Sleeping with the Enemy"Philip Charles MacKenziePhil Baker & Drew VaupenOctober 12, 1998
535"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Susan's Party"Alan RafkinChuck TathamOctober 26, 1998
546"War Games"Philip Charles MacKenzieRick SingerNovember 2, 1998
557"Seems Like Old Times"Alan RafkinBecky Hartman EdwardsNovember 9, 1998
568"Trash-Test Dummies"Alan RafkinAndrew GreenNovember 16, 1998
579"The Thanksgiving Episode"Shelley JensenChuck TathamNovember 30, 1998
5810"The Apartment Hunt"Shelley JensenMaria SempleNovember 30, 1998
5911"Merry Ex-Mas"Shelley JensenRick SingerDecember 14, 1998
6012"Wedding-Bell Blues"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Christopher VaneJanuary 11, 1999
6113"On a Clear Day You Can Hear Forever"Leonard R. Garner, Jr.Becky Hartman EdwardsJanuary 18, 1999
6214"One Man's Intervention Is Another Man's Tupperware Party"Roger ChristiansenGary Dontzig & Steven PetermanJanuary 25, 1999
6315"Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut"Shelley JensenPolly LevyFebruary 8, 1999
6416"Ben Rubenstein, Meet Joe Black"Shelley JensenAndrew GreenFebruary 22, 1999
6517"The Song Remains Insane"Philip Charles MacKenzieMichael McCarthyMarch 1, 1999
6618"Revenge of the Gophers"Roger ChristiansenPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMarch 15, 1999
6719"In This Corner...Susan Keane!: Part 1"Philip Charles MacKenzieChuck TathamMay 3, 1999
6820"In This Corner...Susan Keane!: Part 2"Philip Charles MacKenzieAndrew GreenMay 10, 1999
6921"The First Picture Show"Michael KellyPhil Baker & Drew VaupenMay 17, 1999
7021"Bowled Over"Shelley JensenJana BartoMay 24, 1999
7123"A Day in the Life"Alan RafkinTBAMay 24, 1999

Season 4 (1999–2000)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
721"The New Gate"Lee Shallat ChemelMark Driscoll & Maria SempleSeptember 20, 1999
732"The Billboard"Lee Shallat-ChemelMark Driscoll & Maria SempleSeptember 27, 1999
743"The Pushkin Letters"Lee Shallat-ChemelDavid BabcockOctober 4, 1999
754"Vicki Moves In"Lee Shallat-ChemelSylvia GreenOctober 11, 1999
765"Halloween"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinOctober 18, 1999
776"Cheerleaders"Andrew TsaoDavid FlebotteNovember 1, 1999
787"The Wish List"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinDecember 6, 1999
798"First Date"Alan RafkinDavid BabcockDecember 13, 1999
809"The Birthday Party"Roger ChristiansenJoel H. CohenDecember 20, 1999
8110"Susan's Ex"Craig ZiskRoger PeacockDecember 27, 1999
8211"Luis Gets His Groove Back"Lee Shallat-ChemelEd YeagerDecember 27, 1999
8312"Dinner Party"Andrew TsaoTeleplay by: Stacy Traub
Story by: David Wright
January 3, 2000
8413"Stock Tip"Andrew TsaoGeoff TarsonJanuary 3, 2000
8514"I Love You"Andrew TsaoTeleplay by: Sylvia Green
Story by: Anne Rovak
June 6, 2000
8615"The Break Up"Andrew TsaoStacy TraubJune 13, 2000
8716"Girls Night Out"Dana deVally PiazzaRobert PeacockJune 20, 2000
8817"The Bird in the Wall"Gordon HuntLisa K. Nelson & Tod HimmelJune 27, 2000
8918"The Gay Parade"Alan RafkinLisa K. Nelson & Tod HimmelUNAIRED
9019"Susan and the Professor"Roger ChristiansenBeth SeriffUNAIRED
9120"The Reversal"Michael KellyTeleplay by: Joel H. Cohen
Story by: Mike Dieffenbach
9221"The Finale: Part 1"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinUNAIRED
9322"The Finale: Part 2"Andrew TsaoEllen Idelson & Rob LottersteinUNAIRED

Original pilot

In the show's original pilot, written by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore and based on a dramatic script by Clyde Phillips, Susan worked at a publishing house editing children's books. After breaking up with her live-in boyfriend Ted (Brian McNamara), Susan finds herself "single" for the first time in years. Concurrently, Susan faces even greater challenges at work when her boss, Eric (Philip Casnoff), assigns her the task of working as an editor with Charlotte (Elizabeth Ashley), a hugely successful and highly opinionated romance novelist. Thankfully, always on hand to provide support is Susan's grandmother, Nana (Nancy Marchand); her co-workers, acerbic best friend Marcy (Maggie Wheeler) and Neil (David Krumholtz), who has a crush on Susan.

The main office set retained most of its features when it became The Gate in the show; the most noticeable difference was that the elevator was to the right. The actual location for the exterior shots of the office was the Newhall Building at 260 California Street in San Francisco.

A cardboard cut-out of Elizabeth Ashley which is featured in the pilot appears throughout the first three seasons of the show – it can be seen briefly behind Susan's desk, near the filing cabinets along the back wall. Brian McNamara later went on to play the part of Cooper Elliot, who took Susan to Italy at the end of season one. Nancy Marchand played Nana in the pilot; however, the part later went to Barbara Barrie. In the pilot episode that did make it to air, Kurt Fuller and Caroline McWilliams played Susan's parents, Bill and Liz, before Swoosie Kurtz and Ray Baker assumed the roles.

Death of David Strickland

David Strickland committed suicide in a Las Vegas hotel room on March 22, 1999. Strickland's death was later incorporated into the show's third-season finale, which killed off his character, Todd Stities. Todd has gone missing, and throughout the episode, Susan desperately tries to find him. As the episode progresses, Susan learns about a number of good deeds that Todd had done around his neighborhood that she never knew about. Out-of-character interviews with the supporting cast also appear throughout the episode, with each actor sharing their personal experiences they had with Strickland before his death. As the episode comes to an end, Todd's favorite song, "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim, plays outside in the street as Susan and her co-workers sit in a circle praying for Todd's well-being. At last, the phone in the middle of the room rings, but the camera cuts away before the news of Todd's fate can be revealed. The episode ends with an archive video footage of Strickland and its titles: "The Gods of comedy looked down upon you and smiled."

Fourth season and cancellation

Suddenly Susan
Suddenly Susan Season 4 cast photo

At the beginning of the fourth and final season, Judd Nelson and Andrea Bendewald left the show; series developers and executive producers Steven Peterman and Gary Dontzig also left the series, and the show replaced almost its entire writing staff (with the exception of new co-showrunner Maria Semple, who joined the series the previous season). The Gate was transformed into a men's magazine by its new owner, Ian Maxtone-Graham (Eric Idle), and relocated from its trendy uptown offices overlooking the bay to a dingy former warehouse in Chinatown. In tow, Ian brought his own team of workers, including executive assistant and U.S. Navy veteran Miranda Charles (Sherri Shepherd), sports writer Nate Knaborski (Currie Graham), and freelance photographer Oliver Browne (Rob Estes). Faced with new challenges, Susan suddenly had to prove herself all over again.

Airing between Seinfeld and ER during its first season, Suddenly Susan was a ratings success, attracting almost 25 million viewers per episode,[1] despite mostly unfavorable critical reviews. When the show was moved to Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. (against the Top 30 hit Cosby) in the second season, the show experienced a large ratings fall, sliding from #3 to #71 in one year, bringing in less than 11 million viewers. The ratings failed to bounce back, and in its final season, the show barely ranked in the top 100, prompting NBC to pull it from the prime-time lineup with four episodes left unaired in June 2000. This final quartet of shows aired in marathon form during the NBC All Night block from 2:00 to 4:00 am (EST) on the morning of December 26, 2000.

Ratings history

Season TV Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale Time slot (ET) Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 1996–97 22 September 19, 1996 May 8, 1997 Thursday at 9:30 pm (Episodes 1-12)
Thursday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 13–22)
#3[2] 16.5[2]
2 1997–98 26 September 22, 1997 May 18, 1998 Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–19, 21–23, 25)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 20, 24, 26)
#65[3] 7.9[3]
3 1998–99 23 September 21, 1998 May 24, 1999 Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–9, 11–22)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 10, 23)
#81[4] 9.5[4]
4 1999–2000 22[a] September 20, 1999 June 27, 2000[b] Monday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 1–10, 12)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 11, 13)
Tuesday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 14–17)
#94[5] 6.6[5]

^[a] Twenty-three episodes were produced for season four, but episode 18, "The Gay Parade" was never broadcast.[6] ^[b] End of the series' original broadcast run. Last four episodes were aired six months later.[7]


  1. ^ LOWRY, BRIAN (23 May 1997). "A Milestone Year, for a Decidedly Dubious Reason" – via LA Times.
  2. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1996–1997". Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  3. ^ a b "Final Ratings for '97–'98 TV Season". San Francisco Chronicle. May 25, 1998.
  4. ^ a b "Final ratings for the 1998–1999 TV season". The Place. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29.
  5. ^ a b "Top TV Shows For 1999–2000 Season". Variety. August 6, 2000. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  6. ^ "Suddenly Susan Season 4, Episode 18: "The Gay Parade" - Trivia". Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  7. ^ "Suddenly Susan (a Titles and Air Dates Guide)". February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-09.

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