Season 1 of Emily in Paris is, and I quote myself, “the most nihilistic pieces of comedy in recent television”. I said what I said. The series’ crew watered down that nihilism but they listened to the maybe right piece of criticism that season 1 felt like an Americanized France. And so, they doubled down on the Frenchness, including the country’s work culture. The absurd but better rights that French workers have makes for great television, potentially. That’s better, theoretically, than wallowing that is the North American work culture. Now, we’re in Season 3, and the show makes viewers ask what these characters will do in love and in work. We’re also asking other questions, like which outfit is gonna be so bad it goes viral (This season it feels like a few actors are competing for worst dressed).
Another question is if there’s going to be that one line or scene this season that will make us think that this show is good. The montage-y scene during the first episode may not be that scene. There, Mindy Chen (Ashley Park) sings Josephine Baker’s I Have Two Lovers (also the episode’s namesake). But that at least foreshadows a lot of the plot arcs here. The song choices this whole season, by the way, will feel on the nose, if not overtly so. Anyway, Mindy auditions at the same night club where Baker sang, hoping to get her and the band a regular gig. But that gig may or may destroy Mindy’s romantic relationship with her boyfriend and bandmate Benoit (Kevin Dias).
Mindy’s roommate, protagonist Emily (Lily Collins), and her boyfriend Alfie (Louis Laviscount), discuss their ambivalences when it comes to love and work. And that’s because they both need to make decisions about both. Emily’s maybe boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) happily spends time with her boyfriend Erik (Soren Bregendal). But life has a way of reminding him that he’s not the only one in her life. Then there’s Emily’s frenemy Camille (Camille Razat), who won her boyfriend Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) at Emily’s expense. But she’s also feeling everyone else’s ambivalence. And when it comes to work, Emily’s client Antoine Lambert (William Abadie)’s business decisions lead to a crisis.
I don’t remember disliking Emily like many critics do, but I don’t remember liking her neither. A character’s likeability isn’t important to me. What’s interesting about her is her parallels with other protagonists in recent shows. I can think of two other characters like Emily but discussing those similarities might take this piece too into the weeds, so I’ll just mention one. That other protagonist is Abbott Elementary‘s Jeanine Teagues (Quinta Brunson). Both have their sunny ways that feel contrast tot he cynical fictional world in which they life. Viewers like Jeanine more but some are souring on her.
Back to Emily, she’s the kind of character that viewers eventually tolerate if not full on like. Thing is, her fictional world is getting less nuance. It’s understandable that the show can’t keep spotlighting France’s culture like drawing blood from a stone. But that’s the reason the show is good and there’s sadly less of that here. This season, instead, chooses the personal over the political and the results aren’t as fruitful. Put the workplace stuff with the political because Emily and Sylvie’s workmates Julien (Samuel Arnold) and Luc (Bruno Gouery) have less to do until the last two episodes. As I write this though, the scripts give Gouery slightly better material. The personal and romantic arcs aren’t as good this season either. Last year I had strong opinions on who Emily and Sylvie need to choose as romantic partners which I don’t this time.
I’m still on #TeamAlfie and #TeamBenoit for Emily and Mindy respectively. Alfie is the kind of character that makes more demographics watch shows like this. But I have less strong opinions about Camille and Sylvie’s romantic choices. I lost my crush on Sylvie’ husband Laurent (Arnaud Binard). Well, I got the crush back once he showed off his thighs but mostly he lost his charm. The same goes for Sylvie who’s phoning it in this season. And the show somehow gives Lucas Bravo, a six foot tall white man, terrible hairdo and outfits. In a show with intentionally terrible outfits, making Gabriel look terrible is its worst faux pas. I’m also sick of the will they won’t they that Emily and Gabriel have. I want to root for this show so bad because of its haters but for different reasons, it’s proving those haters right.
- Rated: TV-MA
- Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
- Release Date: 12/21/2022
- Directed by: Andrew Fleming, Peter Lauer
- Starring: Ashley Park, Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu
- Produced by: Raphaël Benoliel, Stephen Joel Brown
- Written by: Darren Star, Raina Morris, Sarah Choi
- Studio: Darren Star Productions, Jax Media