“Everybody likes to watch A story about two people trying to fight their natural attraction to each other,” declares daring chef Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) during an after-dark walk with Emily (Lily Collins) in the new season. Emily in Paris.
Gabrielle and Emily have just left a very uncomfortable outdoor screening of the French classic How to lose a guy in 10 days, and two – that their will – they won’t – their energy basically fuels the whole series – walking down the boulevard, exchanging ideas but nothing else. And it’s true: their chemistry practically drips off the walls of the bubblegum-pink Instagram installation where they end up. But what once felt like a fun romp through an alternate universe of magic by the third season, has felt like a constant decision that no one is ready to make.
That frustrating disbelief permeates almost every aspect of the Darren Starr series’ third season, which premiered today in its entirety on Netflix. When we last left Emily and Dee Sawyer The crew at the end of the second season, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) left the marketing company alone with his other employees, a fanatic and (as we see in this season) a little short of loyalty to the designer Pierre Caudalt was seen (Jean-Christophe Bouvet). Emily, feeling resentful by her co-workers who she has become so close to, is overjoyed to learn that they want her to come too.
Warning: minor spoilers follow
Yet, as usual, Emily feels uncertain. When we open in season three, she still hasn’t chosen if she wants to work for her Chicago-based boss Madeleine Weaver (Kate Walsh) in a new one. Sawyer, or Sylvie in his anonymous company. Instead, he lies and works for both of them – a non-decision. At the same time, she wants to commit to British banker Alfie (Lucien Lavesconte), but finds herself distracted by Gabriel. “Are you just trying to have it all?” At one point Sylvie laughed. “It’s so American.”
Camille (Camille Razat) and Mindy (Ashley Park), Emily’s closest female friends, are also given passive crushes — people they seem attracted to, but reluctant to pursue. For Camille, it’s the Greek artist Sofia (Melia Kriling) who comes to her in a confessional doubling as an art installation. For Mandy, it’s Nicolas de Leon (Paul Forman), scion of the powerful JVMA luxury company—someone who, unlike her ex-boyfriend, understands the pressures of being a very wealthy heir. Sylvie – Emily’s undeniably sexy French boss – wears her age and experience as a badge of honour, so it’s sad that she takes a similar laissez-faire approach to her love life, leaving her young photographer boyfriend. Does little to prevent it. Quickly crawling back into bed with her semi-estranged husband.
However, the most disappointing part of the new season is that even when a character is pushed to make a decision, it is both predictable and consequence-free. Madeleine – an American with wrinkled brows and a French accent, despite an alleged language deficit – decides to go back to Chicago and confront Emily, saying she’s bought a ticket too. Emily, finally making an active choice, says she wants to continue her Parisian adventure—”to stand for something,” as she puts it. Madeleine looks on the verge of rage – is Emily in Chicago Not far on the horizon? – Just take her young charge and tell her to have a good time. Likewise, when Emily, Sylvie and the rest of the French team cause a disturbance at one of Cadault’s shows, the anger she receives from Nicolas, now head of Cadault’s company, quickly dissipates. He’s angry for half the episode, then everything goes back to normal for Emily. When Mindy gets mad at Emily for putting her in the middle of work drama, the anger doesn’t even last for half of it. a cafe
Perhaps the only people who show any real agency are the men on the show, and only when they are fighting for professional interests. Caudalt, an aging designer who signed his company, and his long-time rival Gregory Dupri (Jeremy & Harris), rode for creative control of the fashion house. Gabriel fights so hard for a Michelin star that he puts a friendship on the line. (Emily, for her part, continues to be a workaholic—”You’re very good at your job,” her friend tells her, as she eschews French decorum to set up a business meeting. (But without any real goals. Bringing the brands she cares about to the world.) Sylvie, as strong a character as she is, resists offers she doesn’t want, to potential blackmail. Lead the way, if that’s what it takes.
Part of what made the last two seasons Emily in Paris Interesting was the show’s willingness to adopt crass humor and larger-than-life fashions. This allowed everyone to return to normalcy. This chapter should have been drawn to the absurdity of the show’s status, both in attitude and style. By the time the finale brings the characters together for the season’s first real conflict, it’s too late—the show’s momentum is gone, and even the cliffhanger feels like a last-ditch attempt at drama. “Not choosing is still a choice,” Alfie says in the first episode, scolding Emily for not choosing him in her work. Starr, by choosing to go hard on his characters, allows them to coast casually in their world: still technicolor, still camp, but without the sense of adventure that the show It created so much joy to begin with.