Alfie on my mind, but Emily, still, in Paris
What does Emily in Paris have in common with my Tinder date from 2017? For the uninitiated, I fucking hate them both, and yet I keep going back to them.
However, unlike my man, my relationship with the series has improved.
My surprise is noted on record to state that Emily in Paris season 2 returned with an intent — an exoneration to revise the plot to make it somewhat relatable. Despite all of Emily’s desperate attempts at being Parisian, there seems to be a careful switch with fading out her character. You can’t convince me that she singlehandedly put together a French dinner from scratch, when, in the last season, she could barely plug in her vibrator without causing a power outage in all of Paris. But, you know what they say, Christmas is all about miracles, including this essay which I never thought I’d write after streaming the first season and writing about it.
The miracles also touched Emily’s basic af Instagram, where posting in the series is replaced with newfound depth to other characters, who are in fact, NOT Emily from mid-west Chicago, annoying one and all in Paris. There’s been a clear attempt at adding layers to the storyline when it was previously all about her being basic as hell with her professional and personal life in the capital city of France.
Bonjour, salut, ringarde, and other French terms that you may have picked on in the first season will come in handy when you traverse through the second season. Lily Collins reprises her role, unsurprisingly wafer-thin on the body and on the brain, as Emily. You worry for her when she goes out shopping with her Ukrainian French class buddy, even though the underpinning to the said situation is more of a racist reflection on the creators than Emily’s outlook towards being ethical in the said situation. Funny, how a native English-speaking character couldn’t have been a shoplifter, no? Ukrainian fans are pretty damn unhappy. I am unfazed.
Instead, the new native English-speaking hottie, I mean, Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) is meant to make you fall in love with Emily; all her imperfections and even her complete unhinged episode of frantic texting Alfie after hooking up, and not observing radio silence for 24 hours rule look dreamy when you see them from Alfie’s rose-tinted glasses he’s wearing for Emily, the skank. I hate her and her luck with men. Ugh.
Darren Star got one thing right, and that is, getting Laviscount on board. Alfie’s put those cherry-tinted glasses on me just as much as he put over the rest of the audience. I can’t waste time brooding over Emily anymore when I’ve got this man giving me his monologue against France, Paris is all “smokes and mirrors”.
Keep talking, you’ve got all my attention.
The series and the creators may tell you that this is all about Emily and her gal-pals chilling with her in Paris but it’s Alfie that I am all in for. He’s in Paris for work, can’t be arsed to do much else other than that, and avoids irritating women (cough Emily cough) at his compulsory French class. What’s not to like about a dude who’s as real as they can be about number crunching while being a lone wolf in France?
The second season unearths what the first should have done — without zooming in too much into Emily’s actions in every episode, we learn the critical bits. She runs digital accounts for an American marketing company in Paris. Her French employees share a love-hate relationship with her, their boss brings croissants to work when she gets some the night before and all their work seems basic af in the light of solutions being offered by Emily and her colleagues in times of duress. There’s not much, but it’s honest work, aye.
A personal recommendation? Start with season 2 if you have prevented yourself from going anywhere near this luxury escapist drama. There’s not much in season 1 you’ll miss other than Camille’s (Camille Razat) ability to transform into a doormat for everyone, including the folks at Savoy, the company that employs Emily in Paris. I like that in this season even Camille returns back with vengeance, shedding the people pleaser side and acquiring a villain origin story. Hell yeah, more power to you Camille.
Other friends (and fuck buddies) of Emily from the first season re-appear. Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) looks hella unlikeable since he can’t bring himself to ‘fess up his love for Emily as his reason for breaking up with his ex-girlfriend Camille. I get it, Emily is unhinged, but what’s your excuse, Gabriel? The show is literally called, “Emily in Paris”, she is the main character. You’re “Gabriel from Normandy” and a side character at that; be nice to your ex-girlfriend and tell her that you love someone else. But no, we get a side of lying, cheating chef who cooks up a storm at his new restaurant and even goes as far as befriending Alfie. Which, to be fair, is hard to resist for everyone, especially if you’ve seen Alfie be.
There’s Mindy (Ashley Park), who wears outfits more fabulous than anyone else in the series and struggles to buy basic commodities and pay the rent, which, to be fair is understandable if you’re seen her wearing Terry De Havilland in the streets on Paris. The creators’ attempt at showing the difficulty of acquiring work-permit for gigs was actually a solid sub-plot, only until, Mindy acquired a lover who ends up holding a grudge against her for concealing facts. I mean, you’ve just started dating and all, why would do you even expect her to go all-in with baring her soul crap and why would you be mad at her for hiding details about her life? I didn’t get that arc but thankfully the series is made for a larger audience and not me. You can deal with that yourself, assuming you’d understand the fuss about her not coming clean to her newly acquired band dude boyfriend.
The folks at Savoy seem warmer to Emily in this season than the last one and I could live with that cause Alfie’s distracted me enough. There isn’t much to talk about, or even anything substantial to look at, barring Alfie’s well-tailored outfits and his monologue on why Paris is overhyped. I’d take that one paragraph of speech and tolerate two whole seasons Darren Star put out for his viewers, just to be able to watch that scene again like it’s the first time.
I was somehow unimpressed with Emily’s wardrobe this season. For a series that is all about escapism and happiness, they really ensured the ensembles, styling, and makeup is all too safe, they replaced playful with graceful. Nothing wrong with that if you’re making a series that has substance, but if you’re all about the optics then do the damn thing right. The music worked right to ensure you don’t question the creators on Emily consistently finding English-speaking clients, friends, strangers all in Paris cause it is a pipe dream otherwise, ain’t it?
If you’re looking to numb your brain with no activity and staring at the wall to recuperate from end-of-the-year blues, it’s perhaps the only time I could ask you to stream it, otherwise, it’s forgettable at best. Someone tell me when does Emily run out of her visa? Asking for my TV writing career.
The series is available for streaming on Netflix in India.