For many Netflix lovers, part of the joys of the recent holiday season extended beyond watching our favourite Christmas movies for the hundredth time. It included looking forward to season two of Emily in Paris.
Between the pandemic, lockdowns, and travel restrictions that plagued most of the last two years, season one of Emily in Paris was a hit. It allowed its audience to live vicariously through Emily. But for many, the series was more than its elegant fashion choices, beautiful scenery, and of course the romance — after all, it is Paris. Emily in Paris was a front-row seat to experiencing French culture, or so we thought.
As great as season one was, it received a lot of backlash for inaccurately portraying French culture. According to an article on people.com, a Parisian, Victoire, described the show as “both entertaining and painful to watch.” Two major points of backlash were portraying the French as having a poor work ethic and promoting the cliché that infidelity was a societal norm.
Season two starts with Emily feeling guilty about her night of passion with Gabriel — who was moving away from Paris but isn’t anymore — at the end of season one. Gabriel’s choice to remain in Paris means that she must now cross paths with him and his girlfriend Camille, who’s also her friend — ouch! Of course, it doesn’t take long for the news to spread, and everyone at work knows how bad of a friend Emily was to sleep with Gabrieland ostracizes her. This plotline strategically redeems the show from previously pushing the idea that such an attitude was acceptable within French culture.
In addition to letting its audience know that unfaithfulness is not acceptable in France, season two also shows the less glamorous aspects of living in France. For instance, Emily’s tiny apartment, which she shares with her friend, and the lack of air conditioning in some locations to help with the hot months. It corrects the idea that Paris is hunky-dory all the time. There was also more emphasis on the quality of work done by Savoir and other businesses in the show, which repaired the cliché regarding work ethic in season one.
Although there were efforts to redeem the show, it is now under fire for — you guessed it — putting forth another stereotype. This time, in the portrayal of Ukrainian women.
In episode four, in French class, Emily meets Petra from Kyiv. Petra, played by Daria Panchenko — gorgeous with pearly white teeth in real life — is portrayed horribly with brown teeth and as a shoplifter. In an article on thenationalnews.com, Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Culture Minister, refers to the character as an “insulting caricature” of Ukrainian women. I agree, mainly because Petra’s look and role added no real value to the storyline.
Asides from the damage control and introduction of new damage, there are some great things about season two of Emily in Paris. For instance, the show made Netflix’s top 10 list in three days which is impressive! In addition, Emily’s new love interest, Alfie, was well received by the show’s audience. And a combination of Alfie and the coup in the last episode leaves room for an improved storyline in season three.
Overall, like season one, season two of Emily in Paris is a hit or miss for many. But whichever way one sways, it still makes for an entertaining and binge-worthy show.
Graphics: Eva Driessen