The second season of Emily in Paris has only been on Netflix since December 22, and it has already jumped to the top of Netflix’s Top 10 Shows this Holiday Season. This season 2 sees Emily continuing to struggle in settling in to her new Parisian life. Emily is as “ringarde” as she was in Season 1. But isn’t Emily in Paris, the show itself, as “ringard” as it purports Emily to be?
If you have not watched the first season, somehow missed the hype last year, this review may have spoilers.
Season 2 of Emily in Paris continues where the first season left us off. Now a little more savvy about life in Paris, Lily Collins’ Emily can now navigate the French capital better, but she still struggles in understanding the idiosyncrasies of French life. By falling into the arms of her hot neighbor, Gabriel the chef (Lucas Bravo), Emily betrays her first and only real French friend, Camille (Camille Razat), and inadvertently, the series suggests, stumbles into a love triangle—a “ménage à trois” how very French! Although Emily tries to focus all her attention on her work at Savoir, her life is getting more and more complicated by the day. This season, though, Emily does decide to take French classes, which she is miserably failing. This is where she meets a fellow expat, who both infuriates and intrigues her.
The first season was panned by critics. According to Netflix, though, Emily in Paris was one of the streamer’s most popular shows. The series even earned a nomination at the Golden Globes for Best Comedy Series, to the dismay of many, especially as Michaela Coel’s far superior HBO/BBC series I May Destroy You did not receive a single nomination.
Emily in Paris’ second season continues the theme of Emily as “ringarde.” She continues Pierre Cadault’s “ringarde line” through a new collaboration with another account in Savoir. She meets Alfie, a British expat, who describes her as obsessed with her work, no fun and wearing funny clothes. Emily is still “ringarde,” even to a British expat. The word “ringard” in French is used in a pejorative way. To be “ringard” means to be passé, to be out of fashion, outdated. If you are “ringard,” you belong to a time ten or twenty years in the past, a time when you would have been termed trendy, but now that trend has long and truly passed. When fashion designer Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet) calls Emily “ringarde” in the first season, he is basically saying that she is neither trendy nor ahead of the curve at all.
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But it isn’t just Emily’s funny outfits that seem outdated, the series itself and its storyline feels dated too. The series perpetuates an all-too-familiar perception of Paris as seen through rose-tinted glasses. One thing in particular that jumped out for the French Secretary of State in Charge of Rurality, Joel Giraud, was the train Emily takes for Saint-Tropez, which look a million miles off compared to reality. As related by LCI, the politician poked fun at the cliché, showing how the luxurious Orient Express-style night train in the series looks nothing like the real SNCF trains. The city of Paris in Emily in Paris feels like a prettified backdrop—the one that tourists dream about, where a ride on a bateau-mouche is seen as romantic.
Everything that happens in this second season feels like a movie or series that could have been made ten, twenty or more years ago. There is nothing surprising about what happens between Emily, Gabriel, Camille and then Alfie. Every dialogue is predictable. I found myself perpetually knowing what would be said or what would be happening, even the supposedly big twist at the end was no surprise. Some plotlines also make no sense. Without wanting to spoil anything: why, for example, is Madeline (Kate Walsh), Emily’s pregnant boss from Chicago, flying to Paris, when the whole plot of the beginning of season 1 was that she couldn’t go to Paris because she was expecting.
This is not to say that Emily in Paris season 2 isn’t entertaining. This series continues to be one that can be enjoyably binged. It is a great series to help you dream about an idealized Paris trip. But for that, the French series Call My Agent (also on Netflix) is better.