After Darren Star’s 2020 release Emily in Paris became a sensation on Netflix, it received divisive reception, with many enjoying the mindless frolic while others being critical of the reinforcement of Parisian stereotypes throughout the series.
Lily Collins as Emily, a ray of sunshine, is a ditzy Chicago woman who goes to Paris as a substitute for her boss and quickly makes Paris home for herself but not without obstacles. Emily, very (un)realistically, has the best dresses, makes every man fall for her and is absolutely clueless about French culture, thus finding herself isolated. However, in this wild ride of fun, fashion and friendships, her personable, endearing nature helps her warm hearts and win people over quite fast.
The second season is yet another extension of Emily’s escapades in Paris as she finds herself at a moral crossroads. She is sleeping with her Parisian friend Camille’s (Camille Razat) ex-boyfriend, the delectable and talented chef Gabrielle, played by the blue-eyed boy, Lucas Bravo. After a few torrid lovemaking sessions, Emily, burdened by the guilt, finds herself breaking things off with Gabrielle despite clearly being head over heels in love with him.
Throughout the second season, she is seen rooting for Camille and Gabrielle to get back together while dealing with workplace problems that are enhanced by the sudden arrival of her American boss Madeline who butts heads with her French superior Sylvie. While our protagonist desperately tries to bridge the Franco-American divide, Madeline and Sylvie are seen to be at each other’s throats throughout.
What is Emily in Paris without a few exciting love triangles? In walks the British ex-pat Alfie, who is Emily’s classmate at a French class and a Francophobe. He is a charming British banker who calls the French “frogs”, reinforcing the fabled Anglo-French hatred that has been brewing since time immemorial.
Emily finds herself oscillating between the secure arms of the British man and the attractive chef while trying to make an epic decision at the very end of the tenth episode. The second season ends on a cliffhanger as we are desperate to know if Emily stays back in Paris or makes a run for Chicago, after witnessing Gabrielle, the love of her life, get back with his ex. The second season is all about powerful women and their heartwarming friendships. Besides Emily, Camille, Sylvia and Madeline, Mindy takes away the spotlight for a greater part of the show. Ashley Park as Mindy is still as kind and comforting as she was in season one and she helps clear Emily’s head whenever the latter doubts herself, especially in the last episode when she makes her realise her latent feelings for Gabriel.
Although I was not really fond of the first season either and found it way too frivolous, opulent and far-fetched from reality, I could not stop bingeing on the ten 30-minute episodes. Emily’s adorable extravaganza is seductive and titillating and sucks you in, whether you like it or not! As much as you despise the stereotypical, romanticised portrayal of the city of love, you just cannot escape it. Star’s creation weaves in beautifully with Collins’ natural, happy-go-lucky, bubbly personality. Though overbearing at times, Emily’s unapologetic presence is a breath of fresh air in the oh-so-strict and prim and proper world of the French and Star never fails to highlight that.
The overall atmosphere of the show is whimsical and provides mindless entertainment. Amidst such difficult times, shows like Emily in Paris seem to be the kind of a guilty comfort that provides a much-needed escape from the harsh reality within the frills and laces of luxurious fashion and romance.
As Emily still tries to find the less complicated answers to her problems while questioning herself more in this series, the flurry of various montages highlights the beauty of the French capital, especially the river Seine and the well-lit Eiffel Tower remain the special highlights of the second season!