The first season of the Netflix original series “Emily in Paris” was undoubtedly mundane. Its attempt to satirize the modern American influencer fell flat with audiences who were expecting more relatability and charm from the series’s often whiny and poorly styled protagonist Emily Cooper (Lily Collins).
In the second season of “Emily in Paris,” not much has changed. The series’s writers lean into criticism from the first season, and, in season two, Emily and supporting characters become more aware of their own enviable lifestyles. Yet, in the dazzling setting of Paris and the lavish lives of each character, it’s difficult to look away. In each episode, the show creatively leaps from one mishap to the next, where bright and intriguing characters finally get a meager yet meaningful share of the spotlight.
Emily and her posse return right where they left off at the end of season one. Emily’s affair with Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) is a fresh wound that interferes with her friendship with Camille (Camille Razat). Even though Emily violated all aspects of girl code by sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend, somehow viewers are meant to feel bad for her. In her defense, Gabriel’s handsome, french chef schtick would be difficult to get over. Emily illustrates little remorse about the affair, aside from the fear of hurting her professional relationship with Camille’s champagne business.
Frankly, the most disappointing aspect of the season’s first two episodes is Emily’s minimal character development. While seemingly more interested in submerging herself into French culture, Emily’s relationship with Paris and those she’s met in the city still do not appear genuine or mature.
It’s difficult to tell, then, if Collins’ character is meant to be fully dimensional or written purposely to be hateable. However, perhaps Emily’s most heinous character flaw is her continuous poor taste in fashion. In episode two, Emily embarks on a weekend getaway to St.Tropez and wears an intricate lavender dress styled alongside tacky Forever 21-esque heeled pumps. If there’s a deeper meaning behind Emily’s fashion faux pas, it’s not clear to the audience. Perhaps the point of her second-rate style is to illustrate the clunkiness of American style among the effortless Parisian fashion worn by characters such as Camille and Sylvie (Philippine Leroy Beaulieu). Regardless, Emily’s campy, over-the-top wardrobe is getting old.
The series’s writers move away from French stereotypes found in the first season; in season two, there is little emphasis on cigarettes, relaxed work culture and the brash nature of the French language. In doing so, the show creates more room for once ignored characters to charmingly impact the series’s allure. Luc (Bruno Gourey) appears as a mentor to Emily, embarking on outings with her in times of distress. While Luc primarily served to spout awkward sexual one-liners in the first season, the second season of the show introduces a cushier, more protective side to his character. The same goes for Mindy (Ashley Park), who blossoms in her singing career with her new band and French beau Benoît (Kevin Dias). These side characters are convincingly more interesting than the series’s titular character — an optimistic aspect of the second season of “Emily in Paris.”
The most electric scenes of the series occur in the last two episodes. Finally, viewers are allotted some suspense and action when Emily’s original boss, Madelaine (Kate Walsh), visits the Savoir office with the intent to restabilize it to American standards. Emily flourishes in a sudden new relationship with dashing British hunk Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) but is threatened, yet again, by her Twilight-esque love triangle between Alfie and Gabriel. Simply put, the love triangle is another boring plot line, and Emily’s character may have grown if not shrouded by her love interests.
Viewers can only hope that the meek progress in the second season of “Emily in Paris” encourages more intriguing character development and plot lines if the series continues. “Emily in Paris” certainly has its shining moments but maintains the potential to be so much more than just another mediocre Netflix series.
Contact Kaitlin Clapinski at [email protected].