If you’re looking for gritty realism, you already know Emily in Paris isn’t for you. When Netflix’s frothy romcom was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2021, even one of its writers admitted she was surprised. But if you’re in the mood for easy escapism after an exhausting year, the show’s typically perky third season should hit the spot. Just steel yourself for a few full-body cringes along the way. “You just moved in and you’re already his boulangerie bitch!” is typical of the sub-Sex and the City dialogue that this series can sometimes slip into.
Season three begins with Emily (Lily Collins) torn between her two bosses: heavily pregnant Madeline (Kate Walsh), a fellow American in Paris, and formidable Frenchwoman Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), who has quit their upscale marketing agency to set up a rival company. Emily wants to defect with Sylvie and office pals Luc (Bruno Goulery) and Julien (Samuel Arnold), but feels guilty about ditching Madeline when she’s about to give birth, so she tries to work for both women without the other finding out. It’s ludicrous, but no more ludicrous than Emily landing a not-so-tiny client called McDonald’s without breaking a sweat, which also happens in the first episode.
Then again, it’s best not to question anything in Emily’s eternally sunny and stylish Paris, a world of super-cute pavement cafés, bijou bistros and O.T.T. statement fashion. Patricia Field, the brilliant costume designer who made Sex and the City the most fashion-forward show of its era, continues to ace the assignment here by dressing these characters in fabulously impractical outfits. Emily’s singer bestie Mindy (Ashley Park) also catches a break early in the season when she bags a residency at an iconic (fictional) jazz club. She’s understandably intimidated to be performing in a space that has apparently hosted legends like Josephine Baker, Édith Piaf and Eartha Kitt, but steadies her nerves enough to give the audience a bilingual cover of Dua Lipa‘s ‘Don’t Start Now’. It’s a shame Emily in Paris doesn’t lean into this kind of high camp more often.
Naturally, Emily is grappling with relationship issues alongside her professional ones, mainly because banker boyfriend Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) can’t stand Paris and wants to return to England. Alfie feels neglected by Emily, which is a fair point given that she doesn’t even attend his leaving party, but she makes amends soon afterwards by singing him a heartfelt rendition of… Dionne Warwick‘s ‘Alfie’. Emily in Paris may be reluctant to look camp right in the eye, but it’s never afraid to slather on the fromage.
And it’s cheese of the most easily digestible variety. In theory, these characters operate in a high-stakes world of demanding French clients and hard-nosed American board members, but there’s never any sense of threat or jeopardy to proceedings. We always know things will work out well for Emily and friends eventually, even if they have to throw a croissant at a pigeon in a stressful moment – yes, that really happens. This frictionless fantasy has its faults, but at least it never takes itself too seriously.
The third season of Emily in Paris is streaming now on Netflix.