Emily in Paris: First it stereotyped the French. Now for the Brits

TV review: Emily’s new love interest, is fish and chips and a can of lager in human form

France had a Wild Mountain Thyme moment to call its own when season one of Emily In Paris debuted last year. In place of Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt challenging one another to competitive potato eating, the Netflix comedy-drama featured Lily Collins in a beret canoodling her way through a candy-cane vision of modern Paris.

France was outraged. “No cliché is spared, not even the weakest,” said one reviewer. “In this series, the French are described as arrogant, dirty, lazy, mean, bitter … but luckily this young American arrives to explain to us how life works,” fumed another. It was Amy Adams’s Leap Year with a baguette under its arm.

Emily in Paris is every bit as much a fantasy as Lord of the Rings, only instead of Ian McKellen in a pointy hat it has Lily Collins with a Chanel purse

Season two (released on Netflix on Wednesday) is unlikely to mollify apoplectic Parisians. And now the British are in for some (very light) stereotyping too. Collins returns as Emily, an obliviously upbeat Chicago advertising executive initially caught in an oh-so-French love triangle. She’s just spent the night with the man of her dreams, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) a chef from Normandy with the best hair on Netflix this side of Geralt of Rivia.

The complication is that he’s got a girlfriend, Camille (Camille Razat), who just so happens to be Emily’s best pal. And now, Gabriel has decided he isn’t going home to open a restaurant in Normandy after all but will instead continue to mooch around Paris. Meanwhile Emily rustles up another love interest in expat cheeky chappie Alfie (Lucien Laviscount, a former Coronation Street actor and 2011 Celebrity Big Brother contestant).


Alfie is fish and chips and a can of lager in human form. He’s a top bloke who seems to have wandered in from a late-1990s Guy Ritchie film, calls everyone “mate” and works in finance helping sort out Brexit. Emily is naturally smitten.

Lily Collins wafts through the action like a slightly cloying fragrance. She is required to both wear colour-clashing pastels that threaten to rip a hole in the space-time continuum and to also radiate unflinching cheeriness. But she is a likeable actress and, amid the often pungent dialogue and plasterboard acting, is never less than watchable (although some of the outfits they’ve bunged her in are best observed through protective goggles).

Emily in Paris was produced by Darren Star, who gave the world Sex and the City and new drama I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sex and the City (known as And Just Like That in some markets). The latter has had a bumpy landing, amid scathing reviews, controversy over the use of a Peloton exercise bike in a death scene (controversial to Peloton anyway) and allegations levelled against Mr Big, aka Chris Noth.

No such woes bedevil Emily in Paris which is set in a cotton-candy otherworld that is an authentic French experience in the way pink macarons served from your nearest upmarket foodhall are an authentic French experience. It is, in its way, every bit as much a fantasy as Lord of the Rings, only instead of Ian McKellen in a pointy hat it has Lily Collins with a Chanel purse. And yet, judged as pure escapism, its perkiness is undeniable and there will be worse ways of making time clip by this Christmas.