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‘Emily in Paris’ Has a Secret Weapon. Why Won’t the Show Use It?

Let Lucas Bravo be funny, Netflix!

A man in a chef's uniform leaning against a bar, talking on a phone; still from "Emily in Paris"

Lucas Bravo in “Emily in Paris”

CAROLE BETHUEL/NETFLIX

It took a moment for me to recognize Lucas Bravo in the movie “Ticket to Paradise.”

On Netflix’s “Emily in Paris,” Bravo plays Gabriel; the criminally handsome, criminally French neighbor of the titular Emily (Lily Collins), a French chef in France who speaks French and who is set up as Emily’s endgame from Season 1, Episode 1. He is kind and attractive (and French), the diet version of better romantic heroes, but not a particularly compelling or entertaining character — but it turns out Bravo has the capacity for both.

In “Ticket to Paradise,” Bravo plays easily the wildest part of an already wild film. Acrimonious divorcees David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julie Roberts) reunite in Bali on a mission to stop their daughter from an impulsive marriage, and Bravo plays Georgia’s besotted young paramour. The character still lacks dimension, arguably, but in a way that bolsters his entertainment value and gives Bravo some of the film’s most potent punchlines (“Damn this medication!” has become my go-to whenever anything doesn’t go my way.)

Not only does Bravo nail a tricky sweet spot in character and tone — it sure is something to outshine two megastars with your comedy and emerge unscathed from playing Clooney’s romantic foil — but he leaves an impression unlike anything in “Emily,” one which could strengthen the Netflix show in upcoming seasons. I had previously assumed blandsome was the extent of the ‘Emily’ actor’s range. Since it isn’t, I’m begging this show: Let Lucas Bravo be funny (in Paris).

Let Gabriel be the one to have pratfalls and punchlines that his costars now enjoy. Let him get drunk again and confess not his love, but all manner of other, harmless things. Goofy Gabriel is the perfect way to mitigate hurting Camille (Camille Razat) and Alfie (Lucien Laviscount), and to endear him to Emily once more when they’ve otherwise agreed to stay platonic. Truthfully, what is stopping “Emily in Paris” from going full “Ticket to Paradise?” These characters love insanity; the show needs to find the equivalent of Bravo sucking snake venom out of Julia Roberts’ foot during the tour of a cursed island that will ultimately doom their relationship.

A woman with long, wavy auburn hair, wearing sunglasses and a black suit and speaking with a man in a black pilot's uniform; still from "Ticket to Paradise"

With Julia Roberts in “Ticket to Paradise”

Vince Valitutti/Universal

“Emily in Paris” is a comedy, but up til now Gabriel was relatively buttoned down. Bravo found some range in the character’s chemistry and relationships in Season 3, which focused less on his romance with Camille (Camille Razat) and more on his friendship with Emily (though they are clearly positioned to end up together). Later in the season, Gabriel realizes he wants to start a family, poising him for a more serious Season 4 arc, for which he could draw on his subtle dramatic turn in summer’s “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.”

Bravo has proved he can hold his own with the biggest names in the business — and steal the show, no less. “Emily in Paris” might not be pushing this actor to soaring new heights soon, but it jump started an extremely exciting Hollywood career, some of the best of which start out with a mistakenly typecast hunk who reveals untold depths, like a Chris Hemsworth or a Channing Tatum. Both actors broke through as pretty faces and muscular bodies, but over time each has carved a niche and become synonymous with multitudinous and deeply entertaining work.

There’s no doubt that Bravo can play the dashing neighbor or even brooding lover, but Netflix might be wasting a potent secret weapon. Let the gap between “Emily” Seasons 3 and 4 be the difference between “Thor: The Dark World” and “Thor: Ragnarok” — which makes “Ticket to Paradise” Bravo’s “Ghostbusters.” Gabriel can be a love interest and still be a charming goof, energy that will help him gain forgiveness from Camille and work extremely well as he prepares his best dad jokes. There’s a comedic gold mine begging to be deployed on this show, and hopefully it’s set free in Season 4 — Chef Gabriel’s pièce de résistance still lies ahead.

“Emily in Paris” Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.

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