By Lieba Nesis
“Emily in Paris” debuted a second season on December 22, 2021 to much fanfare. Despite the one dimensional characters, stilted acting, cliche-ridden plots, and trite love story-I enjoyed every minute of this ten episode fluff-fest. The costumes, expertly created by Patricia Field, along with the spectacular scene chewing Parisian scenery rendered the storyline nearly irrelevant. Emily, portrayed by Lily Collins is stiffer and more irritating than ever-with curls that are nearly as contrived as her Mary Poppins persona. Her S-shaped waves were created by hair stylist Mike Desir who advises on waiting until hair is dry to produce the artificial look.
Another unfortunate fashion victim is Emily’s best friend and nemesis, Camille whose shoddy hairstyle, yellow teeth and ill-fitted outfits make you wonder which producer hated her. Camille’s raspy voice, clueless demeanor and try-too-hard affect are hardly paradigmatic of the no nonsense French attitude. More implausible, is Camille’s ignorance in detecting her boyfriend Gabriel’s (another stereotypical french name) ardor for Emily as they steal furtive glances 24 hours a day. Gabriel, played by Lucas Bravo, recently complained about being judged on his gorgeous looks, but his wooden acting leaves little else on which to focus. As in the first season he and Emily bump into each other a minimum of ten times a day, wondering how either of them hold down jobs as a star chef and genius advertising consultant.
Once again the show exposes some fascinating cheesy French tidbits such as frustration with Americans who can’t speak French, and laws prohibiting discussing work on weekends. While France is famous for its 30-day per year vacation time and 16 week full paid family leave it is still a country very much focused on professional life. Another cliche highlighted is the lack of air conditioning during the summer, which is largely due to the absence of heat and cooling ducts in French buildings-how fascinating. Speaking of heat or the lack thereof, Gabriel is supposedly in love with Emily after they previously shared a passionate night, yet every time she walks away from his repeated advances he elicits less emotion than one of his overused cutting boards. Does he love Emily or Camille- if he doesn’t seem to care which one he ends up with why should we? Emily’s outfits are as sexy as a milkmaid and yet her tiny physique showcases each colorful ensemble to full effect.
Patricia Field, who also collaborated with show creator Darren Star on “Sex and the City” wows with her use of designers Stephane Rolland and Alexandre Vaulthier along with French costumer Marylin Fitoussi. Relying heavily on vintage store Les Merveilles de Babellou in Paris they absolutely dazzle in nearly every scene with unexpected attire that is nothing short of genius. Emily’s Louboutin heels accompany most of her ensembles and were readily supplied by the company who even produced some custom made dazzlers. Epic talents Darren Star and Patricia Field both chose “Emily In Paris” over the “Sex and the City” reboot and the dreadful product of the latter (“Sex and the Shitty”as I like to call it) is flagrantly apparent. Thankfully, this season rid itself of the cliched berets of the first and we are treated to a six-hour explosion of color.
As for stereotyping ethnicities Emily’s Asian friend, Mindy, portrayed by Ashley Park, is another artificial construct whose weak singing unfortunately occupies oodles of precious screen time. The Asian heiress who’s “Zipper King” father disinherits her works in the bathroom of a drag club as she is repeatedly referred to as “La Dame Pipi”-a term for female toilet attendant. This job is mostly outdated in French society despite its repeated use in the storyline. Mindy is later promoted to singing on the street for pennies and of course falls for her thought-to-be-gay guitar player, Benoit-they too have zero frisson. Despite Mindy’s penury, we are expected to believe her wardrobe consists of the most up to date designer duds with a hairstyle to match.
Contrastingly, Sylvie, the French Miranda Priestly, is deftly portrayed by Philippine Leroy Beaulieu, who remains the series most compelling character, with an attitude and insouciance that is intoxicating. Her younger photographer boyfriend, Erik, feels the same way-although he is a dud. Speaking of duds, Emily’s new English boyfriend Alfie, who she predictably falls for while they both struggle to learn French, can’t stop lamenting over France being a tourist trap despite England being no better. Emily can be seen pining for Gabriel while Alfie obtusely relies on her perfunctory reassurances that she and Gabriel are merely friends.
Season 1 of “Emily in Paris” had the French up in arms as they were stereotyped as insensitive halfwits; while Season 2 favors the French and portrays Americans as ruthless brutes. American Marketing Director Madeline Wheeler, played perfectly by Kate Walsh, joins her colleagues in France at company Savoir, in an effort to increase profits by relinquishing old time cherished traditions of honor and friendship with hard-headed capitalism. “Emily in Paris” has clearly become Francophile central as it gears up for a nearly certain Third Season. Ukrainian Culture Minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, recently critiqued the show for portraying the Ukrainian Petra, as a shoplifting fashion disaster, leaving me to wonder whether Putin was involved in any of the show’s financing