When Emily in Paris hit Netflix, the world was in the crux of the pandemic with countries in and out of lockdowns and millions stuck at home with nothing to do other than watch Lily Collins play an ignorant American in the French capital.
Within days of its release, the show had broken streaming records, becoming the biggest comedy of 2020 on the streaming service. It was being spoken about—and written about—everywhere.
Despite the series aiming to be lighthearted and fun, created by the man behind Sex and the City, Darren Star (and styled by the woman behind all of Carrie Bradshaw’s best outfits, Patricia Field), the backlash from Paris and beyond was swift.
Critics said that show had too many stereotypes, too many berets, not enough diversity, and was overall a bad representation of what Paris is really like. The backlash only intensified when Emily in Paris was nominated for a Golden Globe, while Michaela Coel’s groundbreaking show, I May Destroy You, was not.
Of course, Netflix cares about ratings, and ratings Emily in Paris did have (58 million households in one month, in fact). So quickly season two was announced.
Now, its creator, Star, has spoken out about the controversy surrounding the show, saying that in new episodes, Emily will lose her “ignorant” disposition toward French culture and life, but that there was a method to the madness.
In a new interview with Variety, Star said “Emily will embrace the city a little bit more,” and will actually bother to properly learn French this time, too.
“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 the second season,” he explained. “I think she will be more assimilated, in terms of living in Paris and stepping up to the challenges of learning the language.”
Star added that fans will see Emily start to adjust to “the more quotidian aspects of life,” in season two.
However, when it comes to all the backlash surrounding Emily’s attitude towards Paris, Star says that he wanted her to come across that way, and that how Emily acted wouldn’t be too far away from the way a young millennial would embrace Paris for the first time.
“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 said.
“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.”