It's Now Impossible to Root for Emily and Gabriel's Relationship in Emily in Paris

TV Features Emily in Paris
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It's Now Impossible to Root for Emily and Gabriel's Relationship in <i>Emily in Paris</i>


Since Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) touched down in Paris to begin her new life as Savoir’s American marketing expert, she has created quite a bit of chaos for her Parisian friends and colleagues. While the third season slightly shifts focus to make Emily’s professional life the star, as she’s torn between her bosses Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) and Madeline (Kate Walsh) and the lives they respectively represent, the true star of Emily in Paris is always Emily’s messy personal life. In particular, her endlessly chaotic and slowly burning love story with neighbor “Le Chef hot” Gabriel (Lucas Bravo).

Unfortunately, after three seasons of continuing this romance with a truly ridiculous amount of back and forth between Emily and Gabriel (and others repeatedly caught in their crossfire), the show has made both characters nearly impossible to root for or sympathize with. In their lackluster efforts to conceal their feelings or ignore them altogether, they’ve hurt others, caused nothing but grief, and showed their true colors. Is love and a slow burn romance really worth making two of the main characters wholly unlikeable?

The first season alone does a great job at making the audience question these characters. Emily meets Gabriel practically as soon as she touches down in Paris. Immediately, their eyes meet and it’s love at first sight, but circumstances do not work in their favor. After Emily and Doug (Roe Hartrampf) end their doomed long-distance relationship, she acts on her undeniable feelings for Gabriel and kisses him one night at his restaurant. The following morning, she meets and befriends Camille (Camille Razat), whom she later learns is Gabriel’s girlfriend of a few years. Emily then keeps the kiss a secret and gets closer with both of them before Gabriel breaks things off with Camille to move back home to Normandy, and Gabriel and Emily sleep together on his so-called last night in Paris. But, of course, circumstances change and Gabriel decides to stick around.

So, Gabriel had been flirting with Emily and leading her on while in a seemingly committed relationship, which is already a major red flag. Then, Emily kept Gabriel’s interest in her a secret from Camille and ignored her growing feelings for him in the name of friendship, only to betray Camille in the end and start the following season with an even bigger secret looming. From the start, these characters are already difficult to root for. They don’t need to be perfect, but the way this relationship is written puts both under a harsh spotlight that consistently shows them in an unflattering light, and it somehow gets worse in the following seasons.

We get an even harsher look at Gabriel in the second season, and he somehow comes across worse than he did in the first. After learning that he and Emily slept together, Camille devises a plan with her mother to win Gabriel back, which involves tricking Emily into promising she won’t ever pursue him. Emily stays true to this, rejecting Gabriel’s many attempts to act on their feelings and be together. And, by the end of the season, Camille wins: she moves in with Gabriel, and Emily’s heart is shattered because she’s just about to tell him she’s in love with him.

So essentially, when Emily doesn’t give in and date him, Gabriel almost immediately turns back to Camille. What the hell is that? What makes it worse is the series doesn’t really take the time to explore Gabriel’s thought process like with other characters, leaving the audience unable to truly gauge why he did this. Was he just lonely and grew tired of chasing Emily? Is there actually something deep between him and Camille? That certainly didn’t seem to be the case given his relatively active pursuit of Emily while in a relationship with Camille.

The third season is more of the same seemingly endless cycle. Gabriel, back with Camille, continues to cheat emotionally with Emily. But Emily does the same, as she decides to pursue Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) while her feelings for Gabriel continue to grow. As Emily attempts to make Alfie commit to their relationship, which comes to a head in the penultimate episode of the season, she’s constantly thinking about Gabriel and that she cannot be with him. They both lead others on in the name of staying apart, yet the show doesn’t seem to understand how drastically this hurts the characters. They play with others’ emotions because they can’t deal with their own, dragging new and old lovers alike into their mess, just to act surprised when it blows up in their faces. Which is exactly what happens in the Season 3 finale at Camille and Gabriel’s impromptu wedding.

Camille stops the wedding to reveal to everyone in attendance, including Alfie, that Emily and Gabriel fell in love the moment they met and are only not together because of Camille and her mother. This gives Alfie the information he needs to realize he has always been Emily’s second choice, and he walks away. Emily pestered Alfie to give their relationship a chance, pushed him to make it official when he hadn’t told his parents about her, yet she continued to flirt and dream of a future with Gabriel.

Overall, it’s exhausting to watch Emily and Gabriel’s relationship constantly going back and forth in the name of being a “beautiful, slow-burn romance.” It’s not beautiful to see how the show has completely destroyed both characters to make this snail-paced romance blossom. This is the perfect example of when a show drags on a romance for far too long, and everything they’ve done has made it nearly impossible to root for these two to be together because of the destruction their love has caused.

Emily betrayed one of her friends by falling in love with her boyfriend, then broke Alfie’s heart by leading him on and making him believe this relationship was different from the others. She has lied constantly to those around her, gotten involved with people and led them on though she knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, and kept life-altering secrets. Emily is a bulldozer crushing everything and everyone in her path. Only so many poor decisions can be excused before it becomes a harmful pattern and true showing of who someone is on the inside, and the series has pushed this relationship for so long that we’ve beyond reached that point.

At the same time, Gabriel proved himself to be disloyal by embarking on an emotional affair with Emily, leading her on despite his relationship with Camille, and then choosing Camille again when he knew he didn’t love her as he loved Emily. He’s a walking red flag at this point. Plus, what Gabriel thought he was doing by promising himself to Camille because she had gotten pregnant is hard to digest. He wanted to do the “right thing,” but is the right thing really getting married to a woman whose years of love and affection wasn’t enough to stop you from falling in love with another woman? Everything we’ve seen has proven Gabriel to be inconsiderate and weak-minded, as he consistently uses Camille to hide his feelings for Emily and fails to put time and energy into bettering himself emotionally to avoid the mistakes he has made thus far. Is Gabriel someone the audience should even want Emily to be with at this point in the series?

It’s only due to the negative character development for both that it might be a palatable decision. These two have become so awful due to the show’s many twists to keep them apart that they now only deserve each other. Even now, as the finale finally makes it seem these two can be together, they throw out another roadblock: Camille’s pregnancy. This complicates the entire dynamic between Emily and Gabriel, particularly as Camille will always be part of Gabriel’s life with this child. If they do explore their feelings for one another, Camille will be forced to continue watching her former lover and so-called friend in a sort-of threesome that has always been the low point of the series.

Is this romance worth the misery and destruction they’ve caused? Is there enough time to fix what has been broken in the name of keeping Emily and Gabriel from committing themselves to one another? With Netflix’s short shelf life for their shows, it’s hard to know how long Emily in Paris will continue. As such, this pregnancy bombshell just causes a whole new layer of messiness, which will likely further decimate these characters. It’s beyond tiring. This is not what a slow burn should be. Prolonging the eventual union should not destroy the characters, but in fact should be about them growing into a place where they’re finally ready to be together. That’s not what we’ve seen with Emily and Gabriel in the slightest, and it’s sad to see how far they’ve fallen since the series began.

Jay Snow is a freelance writer. He has published many places on the internet. For more of his thoughts on television and to see his other work, follow him @snowyjay.

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