It’s difficult to understand how objectively terrible shows can be so watchable. The phenomenon of hate-watching has existed for a while, but why hasn't it faded with the surfeit of pristine TV? As such, the success of Darren Star's ridiculous Netflix series Emily in Paris deserves academic study. The soapy, indulgent, and overly opulent romcom follows an optimistic American marketing agent (played by Lily Collins) working in the French capital.
There are so many reasons to hate it. Emily’s loudness, her naivety, her ignorance; mediocrely Instagramming everything; bringing unwanted sunshine into the sterner, frownier marketing firm Savoir. The stupidly lavish outfits (one for every scene), making laughably incongruous appearances. The copious time-lapses of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe – sloshing from day to night like a travel advert reminding you what city this is.
And yet, this critic couldn’t stop watching. Bingeing 10 episodes, each around 30 minutes long, is a shamefully easy affair. Even worse, and this is humiliating to admit: it is emotionally and artificially gripping. Despite the cheese, the clichés, and the torrent of nonsense flowing through each episode, its basic nature is constructed with skilful and respectful self-awareness. Emily in Paris knows what it is, and never apologises.
Lucas Bravo (left) returns as the chef Gabriel. Photo: Netflix
Season two continues straight after the events of season one. Emily’s attractive neighbour Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) has broken up with his wealthy girlfriend Camille (Camille Razat), who's also a good friend of Emily's. He decides to stay in Paris, opening his own restaurant and then finally sleeping with Emily. But after a night of intense sex, she decides it’s just too complicated and breaks it off. She spends most of season two trying to push Gabriel and Camille back together.
Savoir is still promoting Camille’s wasteful champagne enterprise Champére, as well as managing the prissy fashion icon Pierre Cadault (a gloriously camp Jean-Christophe Bouvet). They also take on a strange collab between Dior and Vespa, and – bizarrely – a food client that specialises in leeks (the advertising tagline: ‘La leek, c’est chic!’).
All of these campaigns are excuses for the series to go way, way, way over the top, but season two veers into the surreal. There are even a few spots of blood at one point. Maybe that increased absurdity is what makes every episode fly by. Weird surprises wait around the corner on every cobbled street, ready to pounce, and every tiny conflict resolves itself so easily. It's relaxing as much as addictive.
Lucien Laviscount (left) as London banker Alfie. Photo: Netflix
In Emily's French classes (yes, she's finally bothering to learn the language!), she meets London banker Alfie (Lucien Laviscount). He's an inspired addition to the series, being a much-needed nonsense-detector. He mocks Emily and makes fun of her silly clothes; a voice of reason in a very unreal setting. Despite calling every woman ‘love’ and referring to French people as ‘frogs’, he’s a refreshing and loveable presence.
Emily in Paris season two reeks and delights in its sweet and sickly charm. And considering the world looks to be approaching the edge of destruction (again), it's a perfectly effortless escape.
Emily in Paris season 2 is available on Netflix from Wednesday 22 December.
|What||Emily in Paris, season 2, Netflix review|
22 Dec 21 – 22 Dec 22, ON NETFLIX
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