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“This season we really wanted Emily to immerse herself more in the French culture, everything from the language to different spots around the city,” Collins told The Hollywood Reporter at a Los Angeles tastemaker event for the show on Wednesday. The second season, she said, will also be “incorporating the fabric of Paris that makes it what it is and how magical it is and how diverse it is, including the people that she meets, places that she goes, and also being able to draw from the ‘je ne sais quoi’ chic style and French cinematic icons to kind of inspire her new looks.”
In other words, Collins said: “Amp everything up but really keep it French.”
After premiering in October 2020, the Netflix series — following a twentysomething American marketing exec who moves to the City of Light — quickly dominated (and divided) the online conversation, knocked by some French viewers and critics for its “proud cultural ignorance” while also landing an Emmy nomination for best comedy.
On its second go-around, Collins said those criticized French stereotypes will naturally be worked out as Emily feels more at home in Paris.
“Emily really wants to try, she really wants to learn French and be immersed in the culture and get to know everything,” the star said. “So the further along she gets in her journey, the more she knows these people and the less hyped-up her vision of the city becomes. That’s what we got to do in season two.”
“The stereotypes were American stereotypes also, which was kind of the point of the humor in the first season,” creator Darren Star added. “It was all done in fun with a sense of humor, so hopefully people see it that way.”
Season two also faced the additional challenge of shooting during strict COVID-19 lockdowns in France, when Collins said there were nothing but grocery stories and pharmacies open, in stark contrast to the vibrant pre-pandemic city highlighted in the first season.
“It was a quieter Paris when we first got there. We were the only Americans also because they hadn’t opened the borders yet,” Collins said. “But then once we were halfway through, and then to the end, it got more lively again. We just had such strict safety protocols, which were totally necessary, and thank God because we were able to make it through without any shutdowns and create an entire season in the height of the pandemic.”
And Star said despite the hurdles, he never considered making the pandemic part of the storyline: “Our timeline, it didn’t really include COVID-19 from when the last season left off so we didn’t. It keeps it a little more timeless.”
The Emily in Paris return also coincides with the debut of And Just Like That, the revival of Sex and the City, which Star also created. Though he’s not involved in the new series, the writer said he’s seen it and thinks “it’s a wonderful new chapter for all of those characters,” even as they carry on without a signature member of the quartet, Samantha Jones. “I think it’s sad she’s not in the series, but I think there’s a lot of characters that people care about and have been connected to all these years,” he added.
As for Emily, season two welcomes Slave Play playwright and Zola screenwriter Jeremy O. Harris to the cast, after the series writers based a character off his Instagram posts and asked him to make an on-camera turn. “I was a huge fan of the show and I said yes immediately, and went and spent a month in France with everyone having the best time of my life,” Harris said of the experience.
And after being a pandemic hit, the cast is just now experiencing the full in-person reaction to the series, after only seeing it from their living rooms last year. “You can see numbers go up on a screen but it wasn’t until we were walking the streets of Paris and people were embracing us,” costar Ashley Park said of processing the public reaction. “It’s always the personal stories that mean a lot to us.”
Season two of Emily in Paris starts streaming on Netflix Dec. 22.
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