I'm sorry, but I can't find myself to like Emilie Agreste.
I have made it explicitly clear that I am not the biggest fan of the character Emilie Agreste from Miraculous Ladybug. While plenty can see where I was coming from, others feel I am harsh on her, which I understand entirely. The characters I choose to like and dislike have changed so much since I entered college, as my studies and the people I’m around affected how I see the world we live in and the fiction we engage with. My dislike for Emilie Agreste can not be explained in three sentences or less, so here’s a complex clarification as to why I do not care what happens to her in the future.
The entirety of Miraculous Ladybug surrounds the fascination of missing white woman syndrome. Missing white woman syndrome is the phenomenon of when a well-off, conventionally pretty white female goes missing, and everyone is talking about it. They are the first ones to get news stories, and a bunch of people in the area where she was in the last scene go looking for her. If months go by, and she’s not found, they make crime specials about her. If she turns up dead, numerous productions start-up to cover her story. But this does not happen to women of color often, especially black women. And when it does, they are victim blamed. Because of the potent effects of missing white woman syndrome, we have crime shows only explicitly dedicated to the cases of black women.
Now that you’re familiar with the main subject of today’s matter let’s talk about Emilie Agreste.
I will be frank here. A significant chunk of my dislike for Emilie is my love for Nathalie Sancoeur, who is literally just me if I were a tall non-black woman who lived in Paris. I relate to Nathalie for both my good and bad traits. What is the good with Nathalie? She’s caring, organized, and stern when she needs to be. What is the bad with Nathalie? She has issues with not putting herself first and standing up to those who are hurting her. I have owned up to the fact that I have this problem just as well. Because of that, I question everyone around her within the series.
Nathalie is constantly dog-walked in this show like I was in my life.
From what we have seen in the series, Gabriel has a habit of being disrespectful toward Nathalie. He has shown this behavior since season one. It has been confirmed that she has known him for a while. Gabriel Agreste is notorious for disrespecting those of a lower class than him. Nathalie works underneath Gabriel. So it's been set in stone that this has been the dynamic between the two for a while. Nathalie has had to know Emilie for the same time as Gabriel. She was most likely aware of how her husband was treating her, and it would not be surprising if she did too. We even saw in the video Nathalie had saved from Emilie that she was expecting Nathalie to help Gabriel. From the information given to the audience, Gabriel and Emilie have had authority over Nathalie for years.
Like Gabriel, Emilie has a power dynamic over her. Friendships with people who do labor for you will often differ from those you who do not have work relationships with. If Nathalie upset the two of them, they would likely fire her, lower her pay, and give her more tasks. She has cautious about her action toward the couple until recently, when she realized Gabriel was lying to her.
I have had friends I have had to let go of because their boyfriends were mean to me. It’s not a great feeling, alright. It sucks how you want to be happy for your friend’s relationship, but you have difficulty doing so because she does nothing about how her partner treats you. As this happened throughout my childhood, and it happened in my twenties just as well. I was truly hurt. This was a woman I considered to be my best friend (at the time, I no longer speak to her, and I removed all our pictures from my page. That’s how done I was with her). Mind you, she had been terrible to me before, but when I noticed that she would let her boyfriend say rude things about me to my face and words, I felt uncomfortable with him saying around me. Like how Nathalie is dog-walked, I was being dogged-walked just as well. It was painful. This was a couple I went out of my way to please, to make happy. In my situation, I did call him out for his behavior, but she was on his side.
I’m not too keen on Emilie because I have many questions and concerns regarding her son, Adrien. I am very much a part of the ‘child stars are bad’ squad, as when I was a kid, I resented my parents for not making me one. Now that I am grown, I understand entirely why when learning about how harsh the entertainment industry is. After being on a professional film set numerous days a week working as an extra, it hit me: this is not a place children should be in. This industry chews up and spits out adults within; I could not imagine how I would have dealt with the problems I had on set as a kid.
Adrien did not say, “I wanted to be what my dad wanted me to be,” he said, “I wanted to be what my parents wanted me to be.” He was speaking about his mother just as well when it came to him and his life’s decisions. Adrien was forced into stardom by both of his parents. Gabriel and Emilie are the ones who threw him into modeling.
I have plenty of questions about why Emilie would allow her son to be around the Bourgeois family. Audrey Bourgeois and her daughter, Chloe Bourgeois, are some of the most unlikeable characters in the series. They are the literal trope of the mean girl: they are rich, feel entitled to everything, treat the lowers classes like dirt, and raise their voices at everyone. And I’m not even joking; the school celebrated when they found out the two were moving to New York City. We have seen that Adrien is uncomfortable around Chloe, and this also implies that because Audrey is friends with Gabriel, Emilie is also friends with her. We have seen how nasty Audrey is to Nathalie, and Nathalie does not like Audrey because of her classism and elitism.
So I have a few questions to ask Emilie Agreste. If Nathalie was your dear friend, why would you allow your husband and Audrey to disrespect her? I can’t stand Emilie Agreste just as much as I dislike her husband because of what we can infer so far (this show barely tells us anything currently because the new episodes aren’t out yet). Nathalie goes out of her way to do things for them. Are they doing the same for her? Yes, Gabriel allowed Nathalie to live with him in his home, but that doesn’t mean anything because he treats her like the scum between his toes and is only kind to her regarding his needs. Emilie and Gabriel allowing Nathalie to live with them is a major red flag. Are you guys so dependent on her that she must always be by your side? Yes, he took care of her while she was on bed rest, but he was still coming in to bother her to do things for him. That alone says a lot about their dynamic. And we see that she’s in on Gabriel’s schemes to save his wife as she loves the both of them. Sorry not sorry, but I have been in similar situations before. I can see that this is just a result of a woman being taken advantage of because she did not learn to stand her ground until it was too late.
What does all of this have to do with missing white woman syndrome?
When it comes to our media and missing woman syndrome, they constantly want to show you that this is the main person you should be concerned about because she fits the American dream (yes, I know this show takes place in France). I will go ahead and tell you this now. All the girls and women of color in Miraculous Ladybug do not get the same sympathy Emilie receives from the fans and the production. Because Emilie is considered to have a perfect look by Eurocentric beauty standards and has a lifestyle that many would want, she’s the one constantly being pandered in our faces to care about. She is the whitest-looking white woman, with blonde hair, green eyes, pale skin, and she never has to work another day in her life. Emilie is the kind of woman that society conditions us to want to be and look like. But so much about her doesn’t make sense. So much about Emilie is strange. This series makes it out that you should not question her, but they did a poor job of doing so when they revealed who she was married to, what she did to her child, and making it clear that she and her husband are both dependent on their assistant.
Yes, it is sad when white women go missing and turn up dead; I'm not saying it isn’t. But Miraculous Ladybug has conditioned the audience to feel bad for her, and when someone mentions something off, discourse arises because Emilie is what society sees as the perfect woman. Women like Emilie are the first ones to get sympathy, while those women who have less money, aren’t straight presenting, cis, and of color are either forgotten or made a mockery of: look up Breonna Taylor, Kenneka Jenkins, and Shanquella Robinson. Go ahead and look up what’s going on with Megan Thee Stallion, just as well with her getting shot. People question women of color’s situations all the time when they go missing, murdered, or abused, but when it happens to white women, people want to have morals all of a sudden and not queried.
Is it sad that Emilie Agreste is on life support? Yes. I honestly do feel for her. But also, we can pick up that she is not the perfect saint as people make her out to be. If the show did not want us to draw these conclusions about her, they should have made edits to how she raised her son and the lifestyle she lives.
Thank you guys so much for reading. If you would like to see more of my writing, check out my books!
If you would like to support me, all my social media handles are @harriyanna. If you would like to donate, here’s my ko-fi link and pateron.