Netflix UK TV review: Emily in Paris: Season 2
Charlotte Harrison | On 22, Dec 2021
Emily in Paris first arrived in October 2020. It was a different time then. We were 6 months into a global pandemic, things look set to get better. It would all be over soon, surely? There was no space for such “nonsensical nonsense”, as this very writer proclaimed in her rather withering review of Season 1.
It’s now December 2021. We’re 21 months into a global pandemic. There’s an overhanging feeling that things can only get worse. Now it’s time for Emily In Paris (which Netflix has declared should be pronounced “Emily in Par-ee”) to shine. When I say shine… No, this show hasn’t started to make sense. It’s ludicrous, patronising, borderline-offensive and ridiculous nonsense of the highest order. The depictions of the French are genuinely awful, and now the Brits are targeted with the arrival of banker Alfie (Lucien Laviscount).
And yet. I’m starting to fear it’s the only thing my brain can handle right now. The five hours I spent watching Season 2 were some of the most comforting hours I’d spent in weeks. Abandoning all logic and reason at the opening credits, I was able to sink into what is essentially an implausible fairytale about a gorgeous American in Paris with an impossibly chic wardrobe, a dreamy job and men dropping at her feet.
There have been different chapters and moods to the coronavirus pandemic, with each of us in different lifeboats trying to help each other while desperately trying to stay afloat. For arguably immensely understandable reasons, my current chapter is finding comfort and solace in low-stakes drama. Being fully at capacity – emotional, mental and physical – I find that all I want is to watch an infuriating and unlikeable 20-something (Lily Collins, who oozes an oddly compelling charisma) make ridiculous decisions in (and I cannot reiterate this enough) straight-off-the-catwalk couture clothing.
She’s a ridiculous character, selfish and oblivious – a magnet to all manner of dramas with a quasi-dystopian compulsion to document her life on Instagram (the effortless ease in which she manages to take viral photos is another of the show’s baffling choices). The interactions at her workplace are stepped in awful Gallic caricature, her colleagues are less characters and more patchworks of stereotypes and clichés. She has endless successes and victories at work, achieved through chance rather than work and skill. Her romances are with men who idolise her, for very little reason. They’re all handsome, charming and rich – determined to woo her with all manner of grand gestures. There’s not a single aspect of the show that is believable.
But there’s something to the show’s formula and structure that makes it so comforting. It’s episodic, with a mini-drama in each episode that gets mostly resolved within that episode and nearly always with positive consequences for Emily. The tone is light and bubbly, any peril is (compared to current global news and affairs) low stacks. The incidents are used to develop Emily’s character and make self-improvements, learning about herself and others.
If television can be medicinal, Emily in Paris Season 2 is most definitely not the cure, but it’s something of a numbing sedative – a gaudy and sugary escape from the noise.