If you’re here, then you must’ve been guilty of lapping up — or hate-watching — the first season of Emily in Paris when it made its debut last year, at a time when an escapist romantic comedy was just the thing we needed after months of lockdowns and social distancing. Either way, we’re not judging your entertainment choices, ringarde as they may be. No, really, we’re not. The show is admittedly a winner for sticking by its delightfully ditzy tone, one that’s brimming with necessary optimism and fabulous fashion — which propelled it to the most viewed comedy series of 2020 on Netflix.
Helmed by creator and showrunner Darren Star, the lighthearted series is back for Season 2, where we get 10 new episodes of Emily’s fish-out-of-water experiences as she struggles with the idiosyncrasies of French life. “I would say that this season, Emily, immerses herself more in French culture and starts to speak the language better, and just takes more influence from those she’s meeting and surrounded by in Paris — exploring the city more and just feeling a bit more comfortable within the city itself,” says actress Lily Collins, who plays titular character Emily.
It’s not just that, though, as the show, and Emily, stumbles headfirst into the love triangle drama set up in the first season — what will happen to Emily and Gabriel now that they’re so obviously obsessed with each other, while he’s staying in Paris to boot? Will Camille ever find out, and what will be the fallout if she does? How will Mindy and Emily’s lovely friendship evolve now that they’re roommates — and most intriguingly, who is this the newcomer and so-called ‘love interest’ Alfie? Ahead, we hear from cast members Lily Collins (Emily), Ashley Park (Mindy), Lucas Bravo (Gabriel) and Lucien Laviscount (Alfie), to find out more about the new season.
1. What happens between Emily and Gabriel? Emily’s Season 1 dilemma gets addressed right away.
The second season wastes no time by starting right where we left off, and immediately steps back into the love triangle drama between Emily, Gabriel and Camille — in particular, the morning-after moment when Emily realises the consequences of her intimate time with “hot chef” Gabriel. “I think Emily was very tormented at the end of season 1, because she’s a good person, you know, deep down, she’s just a really good girl who has a strong moral compass. It really rocked her, when she found out that Camille may or may not know, and that Gabriel was not leaving, and she doesn’t like anyone to be upset or to be the cause of anything like that,” says Collins of the sticky situation.
Not to worry though, we don’t get dragged down by the drama this early in the season — in fact, after a short but inconclusive resolution where Emily dishes the news to her new roommate, Mindy, the show quickly zips the girls over to the quaint seaside town of St. Tropez, “back to that bright place that people really resonated with with the show”, Collins continues: “But if we didn’t have the distress and turmoil that these real situations bring, it wouldn’t make the show as relatable — I don’t think — because you need the highs and the lows to appreciate it.”
“There’s a lot of comedy within it, whenever they’re in the apartment. I was laughing out loud at the table reads because we’re familiar with these characters and their relationships… I think that we actually found a groove for the specific kind of comedy of this series. And also, that’s why we are allowed to sink into the deeper, richer parts of the emotion too,” says Ashley Park.
2. Expect even more Emily & Mindy, and Mindy & Emily — and a look at what healthy female friendships can look like.
Can we just say how happy we are that there’s a decent portrayal of female friendship on TV? Mindy and Emily are like a breath of fresh air — no doubt, thanks to the brilliant chemistry between the two actors — but also because Darren Star and his team of creatives have made it so.
Says Collins to Park during our interview, “You’ve said this before, that you as Mindy have this non judgmental quality, which is so wonderful in a friendship because it allows the other person to speak freely and be all of themselves and not hide anything. Emily is only able to be vulnerable and emotional with Mindy because she gives her a safe space to be that in, and makes her feel like she’s enough and has the power within herself to make big decisions. That self-care is self-love and it’s not selfish. You need to be that person to be open with you in order for you to be open to yourself, and that’s something special between them.”
For Park, she charts the journey between the two characters, noting that they’ve evolved from strong, independent women, into strong, independent women who allow themselves to trust and be open with one another. “You watch two women who are good at taking care of themselves; when Emily was facing a problem, she doesn’t want to ask help from anybody, and for Mindy, we see the emotional hit of finding out that her relationship with her dad isn’t good. I don’t think either of these women, before they found each other, were able to say ‘I need somebody’. It’s a beautiful thing to watch strong women find someone they trust and to be able to grow with them.”
“I think that they’re problem-solvers, which I really like, and positive in different ways, Mindy leading with humour and Emily with this bubbly, true positivity. They both don’t like to sit and be gloomy or victims, and instead, are like, what are we going to do about it!” says Park.
3. We get to hear more of Mindy’s singing, and delve more into the backstory of this fan-favourite character.
Mindy, the performer, will be out in full force this season. “We see her lean on Emily a lot more this season, and also really pursue what her passion is, which is singing. We see a lot more of the internal life of Mindy,” Park tells us. The Broadway star got to truly come into her own, first with a snazzy performance at a drag club, and then later on with her new band. Of having to perform and project her voice across various outdoor scenes, the actress says: “I got tonsillitis one day, from like, the birds singing, but it was just the most fun because I got to really explore different styles of singing.”
4. Heads up — there’s a new man in town. London boy Alfie, who meets Emily in French class.
The new kid on the block is here to stir things up, and we can’t wait, judging from how he’s described as Emily’s new love interest. Oh, things are about to get more complicated alright. Played by British actor Lucien Laviscount, we’re told that the Englishman, his cynical character, isn’t quite fond of Paris in general — in fact, their meet-cute is less cute, and more, well, contemptuous. Soon enough though, sparks do fly, and we find them standing under the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower.
“I felt like I really kind of understood Alfie, from the jump, what it’s like to be in a foreign city, working on a job that you don’t necessarily love, but you’re forced to be there. We all understand what it’s like to be alone, right? And we all come up with our own defence mechanisms behind that, Alfie’s is his sarcasm, but who doesn’t wanna be happy and who doesn’t want to find love?” says Laviscount of his character. “When he meets Emily, it opens up his eyes to this new world he’s been living in.”
He continues: “I just feel so blessed and honoured that I can bring Alfie to life around these incredible, creatives, actors. The thing about the show is that people see the light, the joy, and everything it brings, but we’re working with some serious, serious actors who are deep into their craft and and they are very special human beings that I don’t think people really see, and I’m very thankful to be part of that world with them.”
5. “We need escapism, beauty, and a bit of life.” There’s nothing that French actor Lucas Bravo would change about the show, even if it is a bit cliché.
With all the online uproar about Emily in Paris’ portrayal of the French way of life, whether it’s their attitudes towards love and work, or how truly sanitary the city of Paris is (it isn’t!), we had to ask — what does actual French man and actor Lucas Bravo have to say? Quite a lot it seems, except he wouldn’t change a darn thing.
“Paris is one of the most diverse cities in the world and, and there’s so many nationalities and different languages. It would take more than a lifetime to actually go through all of it and adopt all the perspectives,” he starts. “When you tell a story, you have to choose an angle, and Darren Star chose the angle he knew because he moved to Paris when he was a teenager and he speaks fluent French. So he’s telling a story from his perspective, plus all the natural ‘Darren Star’ ingredients — the bubbly fashion, and the romantic, dreamy, enhanced reality.”
Continues Bravo: “You know, you have to take the show for what it is. Of course Parisians were a bit mad, ‘oh, you don’t see the metro. You don’t see the filth in the metro and the bad districts.’ But if we made a show that portrayed the filth in the subway in Paris, it would be a documentary, and I don’t think 60 million people would sit and just binge it. We need escapism, beauty and a bit of life.”
Emily In Paris Season 2, out now on Netflix.