Emily in Paris’ second season is so self-aware it’s practically beyond reproach

The second outing for Netflix’s rose-tinted, optimistic representation of Paris starring Lily Collins has a keen awareness of its own appeal

Starring Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park, Lucas Bravo, Samuel Arnold, Bruno Gouery, Camille Razat, and William Abadie

When Emily in Paris premiered on Netflix in October 2020, the exploits of the clueless, eponymous Emily as her American ways clash with French culture were met with a somewhat bemused reaction. Amidst almost universally negative critic reviews, viewership was positive. Essentially a heightened soap opera, seemingly poking fun at French culture, however, audiences were left confused as to whether it was unknowingly exaggerated and over-the-top or whether it was meant to be taken in a winning, tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Perhaps audiences will never learn of what Darren Star’s original intention for this series was, but with third and fourth seasons already greenlit by Netflix, it looks like Emily in Paris has found its niche and is sticking firmly to it.

For the uninitiated, the first season of Emily in Paris found Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) moving to France from Chicago as part of her job as a marketing executive. Here, she is tasked with using her American expertise to impose her views assist the French subsidiary of her American firm, Savoir, run by the intimidating and dismissive Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). As it transpires, for every success Emily provides in the marketing world, she suffers a monumental blow on the social front, unable to navigate the complex French intermingling of business and pleasure.

Still, armed with a fellow expat Mindy (Ashley Park) – a Chinese Korean who has fled her billionaire family as a result of her humiliating performance on Chinese Popstar – and multiple love interests – Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), her downstairs neighbour who has a girlfriend, Antoine (William Abadie), one of Savoir’s clients who has a longstanding affair with Sylvie, and Mathieu Cadault (Charles Martins), another client of Savoir’s – Emily soon finds her feet amongst the new culture she has found herself dropped in.

The finale of the first season saw Emily and Gabriel finally give in to their passion after Gabriel at last broke up with long-term girlfriend – and Emily’s new friend – Camille (Camille Razat). The second season picks up from this awkwardness, with Camille confused over the breakup, thinking that Gabriel’s principle reason for breaking up their relationship was so that he could pursue his dream of opening a restaurant in Normandy merely to open one in Paris (courtesy of Antoine’s surprise investment), while Gabriel expects a relationship with Emily, who finds herself unable to commit due to her feelings of guilt and betrayal towards Camille. To make matters even more complicated, her other love interest Mathieu wishes to take her to Saint Tropez. It’s a hard life, but somebody has to do it.

All in all, Emily in Paris provides unchallenging, easy watching. As comforting as being wrapped in a warm blanket, observing Emily’s ability to turn an ill-fitting man’s blazer into a chic, seductive outfit at the turn of a hat and look effortlessly entrancing immediately after waking in the morning is infinitely captivating.

Doing some work as well to remedy perceptions that Emily in Paris was casting aspersions upon French culture and deriding it, season two integrates Emily’s heavily pregnant American boss Madeline (Kate Walsh) into proceedings, allowing Emily to demonstrate her respect for her French colleagues. While Madeline is set on imposing American ideals on the French workplace without taking the time or care to educate herself and seemingly content with her own ignorance, it falls to Emily to defend the work ethics of her Savoir colleagues which Madeline fails to appreciate. Furthermore, Emily also goes some way to immerse herself within French culture by taking lessons to improve her own French.

Most importantly, Emily in Paris has a keen sense of what it offers. It makes no effort to pretend that it is anything other than frivolity, and revels in providing the most outrageous drama out of the smallest contrivance. Providing a delightful diversion from the troubles of the real world, Emily in Paris is très charmante.

Emily in Paris streams on Netflix.

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