“Emily in Paris” became Netflix’s biggest comedy series of the year, with 58 million households sampling the freshman series during the first month of its debut in 2020.
But, despite the popularity, the show was also met with critique for its handling of French culture, with some saying the series showcases a glamorized view of Paris through an American girl’s eyes. Well, according to show creator Darren Star, that’s the point.
“For me, it’s the evolution of the character. I think when someone goes to Paris for the first time, they are overwhelmed by the beauty of the city and that’s what they’re seeing,” Star tells Variety. “I think, perhaps, a lot of viewers who lived in Paris for a long time didn’t quite understand that this was through the lens of a character who was experiencing the city for the first time. That’s how she was perceiving it — she was really struck by the beauty that was all around her.”
“Emily in Paris” follows Emily (Lily Collins), an American 20-something from Chicago, who is hired by a marketing firm, based in Paris, to provide the company with an American perspective on things. The series centers around the career challenges she faces, the new friends she meets and the ups-and-downs of her love life, something that Star is known for, as the mastermind behind “Sex and the City.”
Teasing the titular character’s journey in the second season, which just began production on Monday and will shoot in Paris, St. Tropez and other locations in the South of France, Star says, “Certainly, the more quotidian aspects of life start to come in and I think that’s what’s going to happen to her.”
In its sophomore season, Star says Emily will have to continue to adjust to French culture, but that’s not a response to the viral reaction to Season 1.
“The first season didn’t cover that much chronological time,” Star says, meaning the episodes largely captured Emily’s arrival in Paris, focusing heavily on her awe of the city.
Now, though, he says “Emily will embrace the city a little bit more,” while also still struggling with her French.
“When she got there, she got a bit of a free pass in the beginning and I don’t think it will be quite as easy for her in second season. I think she will be more assimilated, in terms of living in Paris and stepping up to the challenges of learning the language,” he explains.
When it comes to romance, Star teases many “unexpected storylines” for Emily in the upcoming season. “There was a twist a the end of the first season that she did not see coming, and I think there’s a lot of fallout that happens from the that in the new season,” Star says, alluding to the cliffhanger with her chef love interest, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo).
“Emily in Paris” was nominated for two major Golden Globes for its first season: musical or comedy series and lead musical or comedy actress for Collins. The recognition was met with surprise in the industry, with one of the show’s writers penning an op-ed about how Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” deserved the nomination over “Emily in Paris,” which was never considered a strong awards’ contender. (The shows were not competing in the same category, though, as Coel’s is a limited series.)
In response to the reaction to his show’s Globes nominations, Star — who is also the creator of “Younger,” currently streaming its final season on Paramount Plus — simply says, “I think you’re always surprised when you get nominated for a Golden Globe. But I think we were all certainly happy about it.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA), which votes on the nominees and eventual winners at the Golden Globes, has been embroiled in its own ongoing controversy regarding the lack of diversity among its membership, in addition to allegations about conflicts of ethics, including accepting swanky gifts and trips from studios and networks promoting their show. One allegation was that more than 30 members were treated to such a set visit during “Emily’s” first season, staying at a five-star pricey hotel in Paris and being hosted for a ritzy day at a private museum. Star did not comment on this.
“Emily in Paris” has not set a premiere date for its next season yet, but to celebrate the beginning of production, Collins released a statement on the show. “As an actor, an artist and a creative, the most meaningful gift is to connect with people through your art in some way. It’s an honor to be associated with a project that provided people with some much-needed relief during a trying time when everyone was looking for a reason to smile and laugh,” she said. “Not only did playing Emily teach me more about myself, but also about the world around me. I couldn’t be happier to be back in Season 2 to expand upon those lessons, to continue to grow, and learn even more about this beautiful city and all of its character with Emily.”