Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) finally feels like she belongs in Paris. Season 2 of Netflix’s romantic comedy hit “Emily in Paris” ended with its titular marketing guru at a crossroads. Should she return to her life in Chicago, or stay in her messy new life á Paris? She tried to choose Paris, but breaking up with her American (and very pregnant) boss Madeline (Kate Walsh) was no easy feat. And thus, “Emily in Paris” Season 3 begins with a series of almost slapstick routines as Emily tries to be in two places at once without bothering anybody. Can she make it to both a client dinner at the Eiffel Tower and her boyfriend’s going away party? Who will get first dibs on the McDonald’s account, the old firm or the new? It’s exhausting and quickly goes predictably wrong, but that’s when Season 3 suddenly kicks into a new gear, and the show becomes better than it’s ever been.
Just as Emily has figured herself out, the show has done the same.
For those who loved the first two seasons, not all that much has changed. The outfits are still outrageous in ways both good and bad (look out for the brass nipples on a dress Sylvie wears to a fancy event), Mindy (Ashley Park) still sings in almost every episode, and while Emily and her current boyfriend Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) still can’t find the sparks between them, her forbidden chemistry with Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) is still off the charts. Their future is also still on the table somehow, despite Camille’s (Camille Razat) shenanigans and the return of that nonsensical pact she made (and immediately broke) with Emily to not date the guy she is now dating.
What has changed for the better is Emily’s attitude. Now that she’s accepted Paris as her home, Paris seems to have accepted her, too. The drama no longer comes from her misunderstandings or her distinctly American way of moving through the world, and she’s no longer constantly embarrassing herself. Now, the conflicts come from a place that feels a lot more grounded and relatable, even as Emily’s world remains heightened and fantastical.
Emily, decked from head to toe in competing plaids, weighs her career ambitions against her life with her friends and her boyfriend. Mindy, in between performances of Dua Lipa songs in full bodysuits, contemplates what she needs in a relationship. Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) finds herself waffling between her younger boyfriend and her ex-husband and her ex-lover as she learns that owning a business is beaucoup de paperwork, and Julien (Samuel Arnold) tries to figure out how to assert himself when Emily is in the room. There’s a lot here for young professionals to connect to, and to drool over. Almost every scene is a journey from hating an outfit to coveting it and wondering if it’s actually possible to make a crop top, miniskirt and knee-high boots work appropriate, and there’s a brief moment where Emily explores “funemployment” in a way that might make a millennial in this layoff-prone world want to throw her massive cup of hot chocolate at her.
This season, even Emily’s problems are a dream, but it no longer feels like a slap in the face, as it did when the first season premiered at peak pandemic. Now, it’s a balm to watch Emily come up with colorful social campaigns on the spot. Hot air balloons? Canned luxury champagne? Yeah, why not? Let’s all live in a world that works like this, a world where it doesn’t sound like Elon Musk bought Twitter.
The downside to such a stellar season is that there’s a sense that the show is winding down a bit. “Emily in Paris” was already renewed for a fourth season, and the story set up by the Season 3 finale feels decidedly more grown up than any previous twists, meaning Season 4 is likely to be a more grown up season. Netflix shows don’t tend to go past four or five seasons these days, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Season 4 is announced as the last. It would be kind of a bummer though, because the show has finally found the sweet spot it felt like it was searching for all along.
A protagonist doesn’t have to be likable, but she does have to be watchable, and Emily has been nearly unwatchable in the first two seasons. Now, she’s very watchable, mostly likable, and occasionally OK with taking a backseat in favor of her French friends and their increasingly complicated storylines. I personally will not be going back to rewatch the first two seasons of this show, but other fans might find it to be a really satisfying journey to see how Emily and her world have grown, and how much her French really has improved.
Speaking of French, the show remains excellent at seamlessly switching between French and English, both spoken and in text. The graphics have become an invaluable part of the story to the point where I hardly even noticed the changes in language, unless I was trying to test out how far my 200 days of Duolingo French have gotten me. The native speakers still talk too fast for me to catch it, but at least I would have understood the diner who was allergic to mushrooms (champignon) and not champagne, unlike Emily. Maybe she should have gotten into a little more trouble for that blunder, but oops! She’s still learning.
“Emily in Paris” Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.