Fashion, food and flirtations are the main love languages of Emily in Paris, and season 3 triples down on all of them. Nobody, even fans like myself, would ever place Darren Star’s romantic comedy in the pantheon of great shows (though it is one of the best Netflix shows). It’s “un petit plaisir,” as a character describes a fast food dish in the first episode — ”a little treat.”
A little, very delightful treat, but it’s also not empty calories. Emily in Paris season 3 is richer and more nourishing thanks to more focus on characters besides the titular junior marketing executive played by Lily Collins.
The impossibly chic Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) has grown beyond a terrifying, snooty boss into almost a co-lead. Her career moves and love life are as fascinating, if not more, than Emily’s. And Ashley Park’s Mindy gets a very welcome brighter spotlight (and more musical numbers).
Of course, this is a show called Emily in Paris, so a lot rides on the (often bare) shoulders and midriff of the lead. Collins is as effervescent and magnetic as ever, though I find Emily’s magical marketing wizardry ludicrous. Then again, this Netflix show never purported to be grounded in realism. It’s essentially a modern-day fairy tale, and this Emily in Paris season 3 review will treat it as such. Because much like Emily herself does with Paris, once you fall in love with the show, you’ll want to stay with it.
Emily in Paris season 3 review: The cast truly becomes an ensemble
Whenever a character’s name is in the show's title, you can bet they will take up most of the screen time and participate in most of the stories. That wasn’t really the case with one of the best shows of 2022, Andor. It has generally been the case for Emily in Paris … until the third season.
Yes, Collins still gets a big chunk of screen time and Emily is involved in a lot of plots. However, season 3 wisely broadens its perspective to elevate the other characters, namely Sylvie and Mindy.
Sylvie has always been an important figure in the show, but mostly as Emily’s boss. In the third season, Leroy-Beaulieu does a beautiful job of turning Sylvie into a person in her own right, unrelated to Emily. After quitting Savoir in a blaze of glory, she strikes out to create a new agency where she can call all the shots. Leroy-Beaulieu is in peak form, balancing Sylvie’s savviness with sexiness.
We also get to see more of Sylvie’s love life, which is more interesting and complex than any other character’s. Her relationships with younger boyfriend Erik (Søren Bregendal) and not-quite-ex husband Laurent (Arnaud Binard) are the primary drivers, but other past dalliances are alluded to and could become potential stories in future seasons.
Mindy’s ambitions and amours take center stage at numerous points in Emily in Paris season 3 — as does Park, quite literally. She sings and performs wonderfully several times, with one particularly memorable duet of “Shallow” that also serves as a romantic turning point. Park has such a natural, easy vibe that Mindy often acts as a grounding force for Emily.
But, as I said, the show has become less of a one-woman show and more of an ensemble, even beyond giving Leroy-Beaulieu and Park more to do. Lucas Bravo isn’t just a pretty face anymore, as Gabriel’s scenes with Camille (Camille Razat), Antoine (William Abadie) and Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) make him a person beyond a handsome love interest for Emily.
Speaking of Alfie, I suspected he wasn’t long for this show, since Emily and Gabriel are clearly endgame. But Laviscount manages to make an impression in what is essentially a role as an obstacle.
Emily in Paris season 3 review: Looking good as ever
Like Star’s other creation, Sex and the City, Emily in Paris has always put a lot of emphasis on clothing. I’m not sure any real person would ever put these outfits together, but I decided long ago to just roll with the show’s wardrobe choices. Fashion is art — it’s meant to be a bit absurd.
Emily in Paris season 3 also uses fashion as a plot driver, like when Sylvie and Madeline (Kate Walsh) show up to an event in the same dress. It highlights the differences between the women, not just in physical form but in essence. Or when Mindy decides to wear a castoff dominatrix flight attendant outfit to a date with Nicolas (Paul Forman). It represents her taking back control in her love life after getting ghosted.
Clothing isn’t the only visual treat in the show. Emily in Paris season 3 continues to use real locations in Paris and France to stunning effect, and brings in more “food porn” with shots of scrumptious-looking dishes at Gabriel’s restaurant and other venues.
Emily in Paris season 3 review: Verdict
Emily doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than who she is: an American in Paris who can’t speak French well. And the show doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is: a lighthearted, escapist rom-com adorned by preposterous fashion.
The workplace elements drive me batty sometimes, with its insistence on portraying Emily as a marketing wunderkind. At least the show seems to be acknowledging how annoying she is as a colleague, yet it still lets her save the day with her oh-so-brilliant ideas too many times.
Emily’s “will they or won’t they” connection with Gabriel is getting a bit tired, and that question needs to be answered in a meaningful way soon. The season-ending cliffhanger makes me worry that the situation will continue to be unresolved.
Yet despite all the show’s inherent faults, this Emily in Paris season 3 review shows how it's taking a big step forward (in stiletto heels) by weaving in the interior lives of characters not named Emily. The result is a more colorful, captivating tapestry — one I will happily wear again in season 4.