‘Emily in Paris’ drops a season full of triangles and change

Emily Fritz | A&E Editor

Jan. 12, 2023

Warning: This article contains spoilers for viewers who are not up-to-date with the show.

Netflix’s “Emily in Paris” has once again generated buzz, both good and bad, since its season 3 debut on Dec. 21. The show is well loved for its eccentric fashion, intertwining subplots, and the dreamy, romanticized French lifestyle that main character Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) has adopted.

Season 3 played out as a transitional narrative full of uncertainty and slow, but dynamic changes. At the end of the former season, [SPOILERS] Emily was faced with the decision to either stay loyal to her original boss and mentor Madeline (Kate Walsh), or to join the coup that her French coworkers had staged when they seceded from Emily’s parent company to start their own firm.

As the name implies, she stays in Paris, but the tug-of-war over Emily’s alignments remained as a stressful plot point for almost half of the season. The very pregnant and very American Madeline, was a perfect but insufferable foil for the posh and very French Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). What may have felt like an easy decision for viewers, was far drawn out by our leading lady, as she struggled between the moral obligations to stay true to her roots and the sexy and exciting allure of Paris as her new permanent home.

Abandoning the idea of returning to the States, Emily began to make more intentional and stereotypically French decisions, like prioritizing leisure over work and committing to a more serious romantic relationship.

In the past, the show has received backlash surrounding Emily’s ignorance while navigating a foreign culture. Outside of the well-placed social faux-pas, she hadn’t learned a lot of the French language or put it into practice in seasons 1 or 2. In season 3, the show begins to repair and integrate more successfully, despite their largely American, monolingual audience. This was a refreshing and much needed add-on as the show continues to build the notion that Emily may strive for dual citizenship in future seasons.

Although her residency seems to be more set in stone, her relationships in the season prove to be ever-evolving and increasingly chaotic. The season 2 finale [SPOILERS] revealed love-interest Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Camille (Camille Razat) had just moved in together, following a high stakes love triangle with Emily.

Although her relationship with Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) seemed to be developing naturally and positively, there was some tension and turmoil in their relationship during the early parts of the season. While the conflicts were a direct result of Emily’s occupational obsession and less to do with Alfie himself, he was noticeably moved to the show’s back burner.

His purposeful underdevelopment was a bit of a let down, as there was no obvious reason why they couldn’t end up together and Gabriel had decided that he would be staying with Camille and focusing on his developing career. A new suitor arrived to Gabriel and Camille’s relationship, which created an opening for Emily to express renewed interest for another slow-boil romance with Gabriel.

While the romantic tensions stayed consistent with seasons past, the Gabriel-Camille-Emily drama needs some time out of the spotlight in order to stay interesting. A big driving point for former seasons was the idea of the French having secret (and not-so-secret) love affairs that allowed them to express their romantic and sexual needs more openly, as was shown with Sylvie.

Since the start of the show, audiences have gained new insight and deeper character development for roles like Sylvie, Mindy (Ashley Park), Luc (Bruno Gourey), and Julian (Samuel Arnold). While Emily receives a lot of love from viewers, sometimes she can come across as selfish, micromanaging or unaware of others. These characters help to drive her story along but also give us a break from the American marketer in Paris.

Park received more well-deserved recognition for her vocal talents this season in addition to finding Mindy in a love triangle of her own. Unfortunately for Emily, Mindy’s romantic subplot took some shots at their coveted friendship.

Following season 2, the show received criticism for allowing a love interest to come between an otherwise very positive and strong female friendship. By the end of the season though, [SPOILERS] Mindy and Emily are able to make amends and Mindy is able to set distinct boundaries with her partner about how he is expected to treat her loved ones. This was a fresh twist on typical and exhausting girl versus girl competition over something so silly as a romantic interest.

While the beginning of the season was almost painfully slow, the second half seemed to catch fire. [SPOILERS] The ghost of the Emily-Gabriel-Camille love triangle that had been drifting restlessly in the background became a raging poltergeist as Gabriel and Camille announce their engagement, Emily assertively confronts Camille about an affair and a shot-gun wedding is on the horizon.

While the ease of success, whether through marketing or Michelin stars, present in “Emily in Paris” remains questionable, for entertainment purposes, the show has put out another successful season. Overall, the newest installment wasn’t a bust, but it was a long slow-burn that sets up a very interesting season 4. The debut date has not been released yet, but it is speculated to hit Netflix around Dec. of this year.