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You’re telling me Emily hasn’t been in Paris for a year yet?

Netflix’s Emily in Paris does not exist on this plane of reality

Emily gets booped on the nose by her boss Sylvie in the third season of Emily in Paris. Photo: Stéphanie Branchu/Netflix
Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

Upon reflection, when Nietzsche wrote Beyond Good and Evil, he was likely thinking of Netflix’s hit comedy Emily in Paris, a show that, three seasons in, has transcended simple labels like “good” or “bad.” The series, about plucky millennial Chicagoan Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) trying to make it as a marketing executive in Paris, operates by a fantasy logic so incomprehensible it might as well be Narnia.

This includes how time works: its third season, which premiered on Dec. 21, picks up immediately after the previous year’s cliffhanger — wherein Emily’s American boss Madeline (Kate Walsh) arrives in Paris to take over the French agency Emily has been her liaison to, throwing Emily’s life into chaos.

Here’s why this is bonkers: The reason Emily is even in Paris is because in the show’s premiere, Madeline gets pregnant and decides to send Emily in her stead. And since Madeline arrives very pregnant and does not have any other children, this means that all 30 episodes of Emily in Paris thus far have taken place across roughly nine months. Nine months in which there have been:

  • Multiple love triangles (only a couple involving Emily!)
  • An arc where Emily’s friend Mindy is revealed to be a Secret Princess
  • Another arc where Mindy goes from busking to launching a full-blown singing career
  • Many “product launches” (I don’t know what those are.)

Emily in Paris is, in a way, the girlboss version of Dragon Ball Z’s Hyperbolic Time Chamber, with an impossible amount of work challenges, dates, and fish-out-of-water hijinks to fit in a single day. Then someone abruptly tells Emily about the summer solstice celebration in Paris like she’s never seen it before and the viewer remembers, Oh, right. It hasn’t been that long at all — a thought that, for audience members over the age of 30, will likely age them another two years. If Emily hasn’t been in Paris for one year yet, what year is it? 2020, when the show premiered? (Yikes!) Does Emily know about NFTs? BeReal? The Barbie movie trailer?

The show, to quote Benoit Blanc, makes no damn sense. And yet I am still watching Emily in Paris and I will continue to watch — on purpose, unlike Paul Schrader — and only partly because it has the most insane outfits this side of Japanese role-playing games. Emily in Paris remains compelling because its story and world is less a creative work of candy-colored hijinks than it is a collection of superficial tics about a very specific kind of millennial striver, arranged by a trickster god that refuses to say whether or not he loves or despises his subject. It’s a Saturday Night Live skit no one realizes they’re in, a window into a world where the millennial hustle still works out for people to the point that if they had as many hours in a day as Emily did, they’d probably spend them thinking about work.

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