Paris warms to Emily as Netflix’s ingenue returns for new series

Roasted by critics for being clichéd and inane, the romcom is due to return with a ‘more mature’ heroine

When Emily first came to Paris this time last year, it was a dark day for critics in the City of Light, who dismissed it as being full of tired cliches.

Now the young woman from Chicago that the French loved to hate is back for a second season of the Netflix show Emily in Paris. This time she may have a better reception from Parisians; surprisingly, they seem to be growing fond of her.

The first series was accused of swerving from one shallow stereotype to another: featuring baguettes, berets, philandering Frenchmen and, most preposterous of allly of all, spotless boulevards.

Needless to say, it was a huge success: Netflix said the romantic-comedy starring Lily Collins and written and produced by Darren Star, who gave us Sex and the City, was the “most popular” of last year, a feat Rolling Stone struggled to explain for a show it described as “comically inane”.

For her latest outing in the capital, the gauche twentysomething American with the deafeningly loud fashion sense is less of a plouc (peasant), and has acquired something of the French touch. And, it is hinted, a little more of the language.

American author Craig Carlson, whose diner Breakfast in America in Paris’s trendy Marais district features in one of season two’s episodes, told the Observer: “I can’t tell you what they filmed in the diner because that’s top secret, but I can say they [producers] were very aware of the criticisms and are addressing them. I think I can say we will see a more mature Emily.”

Carlson said he and his French husband, Julien Chameroy, were initially doubtful about the series. “I was ready to stop after the first episode; here was an American in Paris not trying to learn French or integrate, and with this American worldview. But by the end of the first season, we loved it and couldn’t wait for the second.”

Craig Carlson and Julien Chameroy in front of Breakfast in America, in the Marais
Craig Carlson and Julien Chameroy in front of Breakfast in America, in the Marais Photograph: Craig Carlson

Chameroy said he was not at all bothered by the French stereotypes. “Frankly, if you wanted it to be more realistic, you’d have to add even more challenges for Emily. France is a hard cookie to crack and she has had an easy time of it. I’m looking forward to her having to deal with the tax office.”

He added: “Look at when she’s fired, and her colleague says not to worry because nobody gets fired like that in France – it’s so true. And the love triangle line is so French. I love it. Americans come here and have this rosy, sometimes prudish vision of Paris, but here we see love and sex intertwined … that’s the real Paris.”

Laurence Herszberg, founder and director of the annual Series Mania festival, which features the best of international TV shows, said: “It’s true the series portrays a fantasy Paris and an image totally removed from reality, and yes it’s clichéd. but we have to see this for what it is, a romcom and a homage to the city. Even if it was badly received by French critics, the international success of the series is great publicity for Paris.”

Darren Star told Entertainment Weekly there would be more French spoken in this season, when Emily is not in the scene, and it would be subtitled.

Critics roasted the first season, with reviews funnier than the show. Rolling Stone magazine declared: “If the basic premise of the show defies logic, the narcotic experience of each episode mutes it altogether, deactivating the thinking part of your brain until you’re gazing at your screen like it’s a dentist who gassed you 20 minutes ago to rip out a molar.”

Carlson, however, is having none of it: “We’ve noticed 70% of our customers, who are French and American, also loved it. Not just younger people but some older women too. I don’t think anyone should take it too seriously. It’s just great fun and escapism.”


Kim Willsher in Paris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'Plenty to feel insulted about': French critics round on Emily in Paris
Netflix series about a young American in France criticised for cliched view of the capital

Jon Henley Europe correspondent

06, Oct, 2020 @3:41 PM

Article image
Netflix’s Emily in Paris to focus on diversity, says star Lily Collins
Cliches aside, new hires and storylines add inclusivity to the menu in show’s series two

Jane Clinton

01, Nov, 2021 @12:01 AM

Article image
In the ‘land of storytelling’, Netflix and Amazon Prime reshape India’s creative landscape
Netflix and Amazon Prime are making bold TV shows but the threat of censorship looms large

Hannah Ellis-Petersen South Asia correspondent

02, Jan, 2021 @5:41 PM

Article image
Where have all the translators gone?
The global audience for foreign-language streaming shows has never been larger. But subtitlers are leaving the industry in droves

Miranda Bryant

14, Nov, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
‘We’re not robots’: Film-makers buckle under relentless appetite for Danish TV
A victim of its own success, the industry behind cult dramas such as The Killing struggles amid bullying claims

Richard Orange in Malmo

15, Aug, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
Suspect in new Charlie Hebdo attack angered by republished cartoons, say Paris police
Detained man, believed to be 18 and from Pakistan, arrived in France as unaccompanied minor three years ago

Kim Willsher in Paris

26, Sep, 2020 @2:45 PM

Article image
‘It’s a miracle’: from begging in Paris to bestselling author
Jean-Marie Roughol reveals how a chance encounter with a former government minister led him to write about living rough – and to turn his life around

Kim Willsher

31, Dec, 2016 @7:55 PM

Article image
It’s a wrap: Christo’s final art project follows Paris triumph
As the covers come off the Arc de Triomphe, work begins to realise an ambitious project in the desert and secure the artist’s legacy

Kim Willsher in Paris

03, Oct, 2021 @5:45 AM

Article image
In the dilapidated cemeteries of Paris, a grave is only for the rich
Shortage of space in city cemeteries means most Parisians are shipped to suburbs after death

Kim Willsher Paris

07, Oct, 2018 @7:00 AM

Article image
A year after the Bataclan, Paris uses art and activism to regain its soul
The city’s response to the 2015 attacks has been a creative rebirth that is open and inclusive

Sophie Hastings

06, Nov, 2016 @12:04 AM