Oui, oui, bon chérie, we have arrived at Emily in Paris Saison 3, which is essentially tied together with loose threads from Emily’s clothes, Genetically Blessed cheekbones, and the viewers’ gristly determination to see this fucker through until the assuredly absurd end. A question before we dig further into this pile of, erm, episodes: Is there something in the eau over at Netflix? Because Emily in Paris and Virgin River are most certainly kissing cousins in show caliber-terms, and they have both suffered most egregious third season plot implosion-meltdowns. Something to consider. Also, the episodes in Emily in Paris have swelled up from around 28 minutes last season to closer to 35 minutes this season. Uh, creative people in charge? This show clearly does not have enough material to be a drawn-out drama, so please do not push it into that running-time range. Knowing your limits and maintaining boundaries is a highly underrated life skill.

By the time I sat down to watch the first episode, I had already seen multiple people post about their own experiences “hate watching” this season, and I admit to waxing a little philosophical about whether one could or should still consider it hate watching when you’re eyeballs deep in the third season, while also knowing full well that you’re locked in for at least one more. Shouldn’t it be called something more nuanced at that point? (Personally, I don’t really use the term hate watching because it just sounds too callous, she says as she routinely produces 2,000 word reviews eviscerating shows as a hobby.) But then I actually watched the first episode and I was reminded of just how much the people who make this show seem to loathe Emily (Lily Collins). I mean, why else would they leave her at the end of the first episode standing absolutely alone and befuddled on the sidewalk, looking for all the world like a bloated flamingo?

Hang on. Wait. I think I’ve tripped over my inflated philosophical musings and gotten ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

If you recall, at the end of last season Emily was forced to choose between Madeline (Kate Walsh), her forever pregnant and oh-so-American work mentor, and all of her French colleagues and France. This actually doesn’t seem like a difficult decision at all, but what are molehills to Emily if not unscalable mountains? This season begins with Emily having a nightmare where she confronts Madeline and Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) atop the Eiffel tower (where else would it be?). She tries to explain to Madeline why she’s choosing to stay in France, but Madeline keeps pointing out her insecurities. Then Sylvie and Madeline advance toward Emily as she backs toward the guardrail. She is wearing some pink coat with the bottom half made of feathers, but this does nothing to help her when she falls backward over guardrail and plunges toward the ground. She wakes up screaming, promptly cuts herself trauma bangs (which turn out fine because this is television), and addresses the huge decision hanging over her head by not making any decision. Nope. She of course means to tell Madeline that she quits, but then she gets steamrolled into making a presentation instead and helping Madeline try to salvage Savoir, even though Madeline keeps talking about how they’re going to be heading back to the States soon, which isn’t at all what Emily wants. Also, Emily points out that Madeline is pregnant and alone in a foreign country, which has nothing to do with her job. At the same time, Emily goes to work for Sylvie at the yet-to-be-named brand-spanking-new agency, which is being run out of Sylvie’s apartment, as they try to poach all of Savoir’s clients. For this duplicitous sin, we are treated to explanations of Sartre and existentialism and how not choosing is still choosing via Emily’s far-too-on-the nose still-French-101 class. 

Emily looking in the mirror with heavy uneven bangs.
How she first cuts her bangs.
Emily at a cafe with perfect wispy bangs.

And then, Emily’s ex-boyfriend Doug (Roe Hartrampf)—I misspelled his name as dough and thought about just leaving it—pops back on the scene to offer her the chance to pitch to McDonald’s. What in the world? First of all, I had to crawl into the deepest recesses of my mind to dredge up memories of who the fuck Dough (can’t fight the truth spilling from my fingers) even was. We met this guy once, maybe twice, two seasons ago in a sports bar! And he wasn’t memorable. And pitching McDonald’s? Blergh. This feels like such awkward product placement. And who is going to show Emily how French McDonald’s is so different from the American one? Oh, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), of course, because it’s where he goes for a “petit plaisir,” which Emily cannot manage to suss out the meaning of, EVEN THOUGH IT’S A GODDAMN COGNATE. For the love of the game, give this woman just a shred of credibility. I guess this is supposed to be a special moment between them as they talk around their missed opportunities over some Parisian Mickie D’s, but I don’t buy it. I mean, I may not have actually seen it because my eyeballs were lodged so far back in my skull, because what the actual fuck? I feel like this plot line is Emily saying that the Paris skyline looks just in the movie Ratatouille all over again. However, Gabriel’s hair does look very good and I think we should be discussing his bangs this season because they are working. Mon dieu.

Gabriel looking handsome with his hair well styled and swept to one side.
Did he do some emotional grooming that turned out equally as well? Because, phew, his hair is looking very nice as well.
Gabriel with his chin resting on his fist and his tongue caught between his lips as he thinks.
Oh, hmm, let me contemplate how to explain petit plaisir, which just such an obtuse expression that even the woman writing this review who doesn’t speak any French had some sense of what it meant from the jump. But it’s okay. I don’t mind watching Gabriel make this face.

Meanwhile, Emily is wrapped up in burning herself at both ends that she doesn’t have time to spend with Alfie (Lucien Laviscount), who is about to return to England and would just like to know what her plan is for saying goodbye and coming to visit. She whines that she’s just far too busy to even think about when she could possibly get away. Can we just speak for a moment about Alfie? He has become just so damn likable that it wasn’t until I went back and looked that I remembered what a douche canoe he was when he first showed up. Remember how he wooed Emily by publicly shaming her? Gross. But, because characters on this show are as thin as cheap paper dolls, he’s like an entirely different person now who is kind, attentive, and thoughtful. On the one hand, I’m angry that the show is making this guy likable without any actual growth, but on the other hand it’s, like, the least of our worries. Long live Alfie. And his face. 

Alfie looking thoughtfully at Emily across a dinner table.
He actually looks very good during this whole scene, but this exact moment doesn’t do him justice.

So, by midway through the first episode, Emily has an actual dinner meeting booked at the Eiffel tower with Sylvie and the representative from McDonald’s at the same time as Alfie’s going away party, because Emily just keeps saying yes and insisting it’s going to be fine without thinking about how it’s going to be fine and the writers involved clearly aren’t interested in this woman learning a single lesson EVER. The perpetually pregnant Madeline has, thanks to Luc (Bruno Gouery), finally caught on to Emily’s double marketing agent antics and shows up at the dinner to confront everyone, but lo she is pregnant and therefore it is written that her water must break in a public place. (Ugh. We’ll come back to that.) Sylvie fires Emily and then, when Emily finally shows up so, so very late to his going away party, Alfie basically tells her to get stuffed as well. And this is how Emily ends up standing on the sidewalk looking like a sad, bloated flamingo. And this is how I end up staring at the screen, mouth slightly agape, wondering if the people who write this show like Emily, or really women, at all. 

Madeline in a black dress holding a rectangular purse up by her chest.
Why on earth is she holding her purse like that? I could not concentrate on anything else. It is utterly unnatural.
Madeline in the same dress and with same purse, but now looking down and unsure.
Yup. Her water is breaking here, because everyone knows that nothing breaks up a party faster than a woman admitting she has bodily fluids, pain, or needs.
Emily standing on a sidewalk alone. She has one green shoes and pink coat that is covered in pink feathers at the bottom.
Emily Cooper: Sad, Bloated Flamingo

Let’s pause here to briefly discuss how Madeline’s pregnancy is handled on the show. Poorly. It’s handled poorly. First of all, this woman has been at least eight months pregnant since the Industrial Revolution. Is she gestating an elephant? Secondly, her belly is the butt of jokes as it pops between people’s heads in meetings. There is plenty of humor to be mined in pregnancy, but this? This is just so tired and hackneyed it’s painful to watch. She craves Fritos, which she claims to procure “on the black market.” Really? I took a quick peek at a French grocery store and you’re telling me there wasn’t a single chip that caught her fancy? Plus, from my cursory research, she wouldn’t even have to resort to the black market for Fritos. Anyway, that aside, the entire pregnancy and postpartum period feel so intensely trivialized. Madeline makes some off-handed joke about perineal reeducation when she returns to work two weeks after giving birth, wearing a form-fitting belted mini-dress. And when she’s wandering around the office while pumping, which is needlessly milked (not sorry) for gags? Uuuughhhh. You know what people are not? Rubber bands, which is why they do not simply snap back into place after pregnancy. The whole process of growing, birthing, and then keeping alive a human is actually quite complex and sometimes dangerous, but, shockingly, it’s often downplayed so much in society that you would think pregnant people were on vacation or something. It’s exhausting to see it portrayed as a farce, especially in a show that claims to be about strong women. You know what strong people actually know? That being pregnant is not just stuffing a beach ball under your shirt, making a crack about peeing on your shoes, and bopping back into the office two weeks after you gave birth with all your organs back where they started. Fuck that. We know that verisimilitude is where both humor and power lie. 

  • Madeline's very round belly between Gabriel and Antoine.
  • Madeline wearing a giraffe print jacket, holding a large pink water bottle and has two bottles attached to her breasts to pump.
  • Madeline and Emily walking down the street in heels.
  • Madeline in very tall heels and a tight dress with the building manager and Emily.

Be that as it may, this season clatters forward like a drunk American abroad wearing platform heels on a parquet floor. Emily eventually extricates herself from working for Madeline who, thank the Goddesses of casting, returns to the United States and off our screens, but not before she goes head to head with Sylvie at least a couple of times. Because what makes for better television than watching women being pitted against each other? So. Many. Things. Sylvie uses her sexual wiles to get the building manager to smoke Emily and Madeline out of the office space, which is a plot line that could be burned with gasoline, in my opinion. Alfie doesn’t end up going back to England, but stays in Paris to work for Antoine (William Abadie), which he doesn’t tell Emily at first. (Are this many Genetically Blessed Faces on screen at once even legal? I’ll check the by-laws and get back to you.) Don’t worry, though, Emily will win Alfie back with one of her signature bland, generic, empty gestures that manage to wow everyone present! In the brief period when Emily is unemployed, she tries to do everything in Paris—while posting it on Instagram, obviously. And then she lands a job as a server at Gabriel’s restaurant. Now, remember that despite living in France for something near nine months, Emily still doesn’t have a basic command of the language, which is fine if languages just aren’t her thing, but I think it’s more that the writers just like to make her selectively incompetent. She ends up poisoning someone who is allergic to mushrooms, but don’t worry about him, because it’s really all about Emily and how it’s a small life lesson for her. My head almost exploded. Emily goes back to work for Sylvie where we get to see her pout about having to get a work visa. Rules are so hard! 

  • Benoit and Mindy
  • Alfie standing next to Emily who is wearing a silver dress
  • Gabriel and Antoine
  • Sylvie's husband

However, Emily’s tried and true formula for failing upward is still working overtime, so you can trust that a pesky little visa won’t be a problem for long. Will the show find an angle so she’s unnecessarily in competition with Sylvie at some point? Oh, they sure will, because what is better than pitting an older and younger woman against each other? Why, making the younger woman seem like she literally tripped over her success by accident and doesn’t even really want it to begin with! Come on! Emily is literally brimming with ambition. Let her at least enjoy it.  There is no cliché Emily can’t twist into an uber successful marketing campaign, which people just can’t believe she came up with on the spur of the moment. Well, everyone except Julien (Samuel Arnold) who is getting just smidge sick of her stepping on his shiny shoes and stealing his thunder in pitch meetings with clients. Julien still doesn’t get the screen time he deserves this season, which is a crime. In addition, they left Luc with so much potential last season, but now he has returned to his more lecherous roots and it’s just so disappointing to see. Bring back second season Luc of cemetery walks and impenetrable black and white French films! We get a lot of focus on Sylvie, which isn’t surprising since she’s finally realizing her dream of starting her own business. Except that the attention is mostly on her love life, both past and present, and how that factors into her current work situation. I feel like Sylvie suddenly got soft this season in surprising and not necessarily needed ways? There is a situation where it hints at a now very powerful man having been awful toward Sylvie and her using that to her advantage, and I’m interested to see how that plays out next season. 

A lot of what happens to Emily this season feels like your warped nightmares about middle school sprung to life. There’s a scene where she and Gabriel go to a Michelin starred restaurant for lunch and Emily mistakenly tries to sit on the stool for her bag. After they’ve eaten, the chef comes out to greet them and he comments on how he saw Emily make the mistake. Come on! First of all, I once again have to point out that this woman has been setting down her purse at all sorts of fancypants places for MONTHS now. She can’t get men to stop taking her out places and you mean to tell me it’s ONLY Michelin starred restaurants that have bag stools? I have my doubts. But more importantly, it’s a blip. A minor faux pas. It’s not like they’re going to write about it in her Paris Yearbook or anything. Unless this show is actually written by middle schoolers, in which case it may be the biggest deal EVARRRRRRR. 

A model walking in a flight attendant uniform made of latex and
Also feeling like it’s straight out of middle school? The part where a designer says that an airline MUST accept his re-designs for their flight attendant uniforms, even though they’re made of latex.

And it just goes back to how they insist on making Emily so brilliant for coming up with bland-ass marketing ideas and yet completely amateurish, unprofessional, and whiny in a lot of other things. At a huge party for McLaren, she strides up to a British car executive and says, “Now there’s a name I can pronounce.” Holy xenophobia, Batman! Who wrote this line? Who kept this line? Remind me why this woman wants to stay in France? She is supposed to be working the door at the event, so couldn’t this workaholic, perfectionist spend time practicing the pronunciation of the list of names? Oh! Like, this could be a perfect opportunity to build some of the will-they-won’t-they chemistry they insist is still brewing between Emily and Gabriel this season. He could tutor her on how to pronounce all those names. So much focus on mouths could lead to some almost… But no, this doesn’t happen, and most of the special moments between Gabriel and Emily this season feel manufactured at best and largely just absent. Even when they’re alone together it doesn’t feel like the embers of their recently abandoned love are smoldering just below the carefully applied layer of friendship. Plus, there’s Alfie, who aside from being a good match for Emily, is an extremely good match for Gabriel as a friend, and I would prefer not to see that gentle, supportive. emotionally available broship torn asunder. But does that relationship only exist because the writers have done Emily so wrong? Argh. The conundrums just keep a’comin’.  

Emily in a purple dress with many ruffles around the top.
I like how they always go for the most subtle option. They’re launching a special purple car for McLaren in Provence at Lavender farm, so the obvious choice for Emily was something understated where it appears that she is being gently enveloped by jellyfish tentacles.
Gabriel and Emily on some steps outside a building. He is wearing a tan boxy jacket that comes to his hips and black pants.
Can we discuss Gabriel’s jackets? They are so boxy and hit him in such odd places and I feel like they are very unflattering on him. I imagine they are supposed to be French or chef-like or something, but he just looks kind of odd in them.
Gabriel in a
I mean, this is slightly better, but it also has very strong “middle-aged woman traveling ensemble” vibes. I say with love because it’s reminding me of what my friend and I wore on the last trip we took.
Gabriel in a button down pink jacket with vertical pockets.
Yes, I think that’s what it is. The jackets are boxy on him and also remind me of what an older woman would wear to feel comfortable, but still somewhat elegant when she goes out. So it’s very confusing to my brain.

You know what is good this season? Mindy (Ashley Park). Whether she is busking on the streets of Paris or singing in some fancy Jazz club or hanging out with an old friend who is so icky he makes me want to scrub under my skin with bleach, the woman still continues to be an absolute damned delight. She’s forthright, blunt, funny, and snarky. She gives and takes the absolute worst advice with Emily. I kept bracing for the two of them to have some falling out over Mindy’s friend, who has some major run-ins with Emily over the course of this season, but Mindy would never put Emily in a corner like that. Can we watch Mindy in Paris instead? I simply do not understand how a show that gets so many varied things wrong manages to get this character and her relationship with Emily so damn right, but I’m not complaining or looking a gift gerbil in the mouth. I do have one question, though. Where in the wide world do Mindy and Emily keep all their clothing? Like, Emily’s flamingo coat alone would require some serious closet acreage. Where do all of Mindy’s hats live? Are they renting clothing by the hour? I’d like an explanation. 

Please keep having these very posed conversations on park benches in unrealistic outfits, while giving each other the absolute worst advice! It’s honestly the highlight of the series.
Mindy’s facial expressions never fail to impress either.

Speaking of friendship, Camille (Camille Razat) and Emily are trying to patch up their friendship after Camille broke their pact to never date Gabriel, which was never really a pact, but a ploy on her mother’s part for her to win him back. Ew. Camille is having some real regrets about that whole thing, but not so much that she’s ready to tell Gabriel or Emily. She is also finding herself very drawn to a Greek artist who she’s representing, especially as Gabriel is working long nights in the restaurant as he starts to chase his dream of earning a Michelin star, which Emily will obviously have to poke her nose into because why let things happen on their own? All of this will come to a very bizarre climax in the final episode that left me wondering if I had perhaps had an out of body experience induced by the brash patterns and colors on Emily’s clothing and missed part of the series. I had not. Things have just completely gone off the Eurorails. Dear Emily in Paris writers, I implore you to make Season 4 and then close the door. I’m not sure how much more I can endure.* 

*This is a lie. We all know it’s my solemnly sworn duty to watch as many seasons as they produce. This is my endurance sport. That said, I still think they should wrap things up in the fourth season. 

Overall Rating on the Chronically Streaming Pain Scale:

2-Sometimes I have the distinct desire to remove an eyeball to relieve the pain, but I can’t complain too much. Drugs would dull the discomfort, but I can get through without.

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