From Sex and the City and Younger creator Darren Star, the show follows Collins’ Emily, a twentysomething marketing manager who gets a promotion and moves to the City of Lights to run social media for a luxury French marketing agency. Culture clashes abound, both in the office and in her personal life. While she quickly makes friends in her French chef neighbor (Lucas Bravo), Chinese ex-pat Mindy (Ashley Park), and stylish Parisian Camille (Camille Razat), Emily finds it much harder to fit in at work, where her all-American effervescence and inability to speak French aren’t exactly appreciated.
(Photo by Carole Bethuel/Netflix)
The series, which was originally commissioned for Paramount Network, but moved to Netflix after some corporate shuffling, is Star’s first streaming series.
“I love the idea that people can binge this show, and they’re not waiting for next week and next week and next week,” Star told Rotten Tomatoes over Zoom ahead of the Emily In Paris premiere.
Before you grab some champagne and chocolate and settle in for a binge, read on to find out what else you need to know about the fizzy rom-com.
(Photo by Carole Bethuel/Netflix)
The first thing to know about the series, which was filmed in Paris late last summer and fall, is that living the Parisian life is just as dreamy as you’d expect.
“I wish for jealousy’s sake that I could say it wasn’t the best time ever,” Park told Rotten Tomatoes, but that just wasn’t the case: “I couldn’t have had more fun if I tried.”
Days off included strolling along the Seine, trying new restaurants, and sipping plenty of wine. Park got an apartment in the historic 4th arrondissement neighborhood of the Marais, and “it was exactly what Emily is going through, but I was living it in real time,” Park said.
“There is a wine bar that I took almost everyone who visited me that had the best orange wine and was about the size of this little living room — it’s the best. Lucas Bravo and Camille Razat, they would take me out to their favorite French spots,” she said.
Of course, moving anywhere new is a difficult and isolating experience, and it takes Emily a little while to feel comfortable. Then there’s the fact that although the historic buildings in Paris are beautiful, they do have some downsides; for one, the frequent need of repair.
Collins experienced the personality of the city’s aging infrastructure first hand. Though she said she had a similarly blissful time exploring Paris — her first time in the city for more than a handful of days — she also had some less-than-idyllic experiences like her character.
“I had a lot of meta experiences as Lily and Emily, like, where my hot water didn’t work for two weeks, or my heating stopped working or just funny things where I was like, OK, this is Lily, but it’s also very Emily,” Collins said.
(Photo by Carole Bethuel/Netflix)
Like all of Star’s series, there’s a fantasy element at work in this show. First of all, Emily is described as a “marketing executive” at the ripe old age of not-even-30, which is a bit of an exaggeration even if she was a wunderkind who worked her way up the corporate ladder quickly. But even so, the culture clash at her new company is very extreme, with the buttoned-up French staff not at all receptive to Emily’s over-eager, bubbly personality and “ask for forgiveness, not permission” work style.
Emily is a fish out of water careening forward without first assessing how her new colleagues operate (a rookie mistake).
“It’s an interesting situation for Emily because she was sent there last minute,” Collins explained. “So the office is expecting someone older who speaks French, and she arrives and she’s someone younger who doesn’t understand the language at all. So right away, it’s like, Oh, wait, this is not gonna work.
“Emily is very passionate, loves her work, and is very articulate, and quite loud and obvious. And so when she comes bustling in to prove herself right away, it can seem like a lot,” Collins said. “Her youthful boldness, her youthful passion, at the beginning is like a full train rolling, going straight ahead 20 miles an hour too fast.”
(Photo by Stephanie Branchu/Netflix)
Paris is also called the City of Love for a reason — it is tres romantic, especially the version of Paris captured by this breezy 30-minute show. Emily has a boyfriend back home, a fancy client who’s extremely into her, and sizzling chemistry with neighbor Gabriel, who’s also a chef at the bistro downstairs from their apartments.
But above all, Collins said, “I think this is a romantic comedy where mostly Emily’s trying to find love within herself. The City of Love is teaching her so much about finding love within herself, and then obviously with these people that she’s meeting.”
It shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to tease that perhaps something explosive will happen between Emily and her hot chef neighbor — come on, you’ve seen a romantic comedy before, right? The situation is very complicated on both ends, Bravo said, but Gabriel ultimately can’t resist the sparks between them.
“He’s wearing that charming self-confidence mask, but he’s really lost,” the Nice-born actor said. “And when Emily comes around, and at his doorstep — he is not looking for her, she really steps into his life — he sees this very curious character; he sees an opportunity. It’s like, OK, what I’m feeling right now, I need to experience it because I felt kind of dead all this time and lost, and I feel something right now so I need to experience it.”
(Photo by Roger Do Minh/Netflix)
While Park is Tony-nominated for her work in Broadway’s Mean Girls musical and Collins has been a big-screen star for years, American audiences won’t be as familiar with Bravo. The actor was born in the South of France but lived all across Europe as the son of a professional soccer player, settling in Paris to finish his studies. After a five-year stint in Los Angeles, he moved back to Paris, where he’s worked in TV and film for the past few years.
As someone who moved around a lot as a kid, Bravo said he’s comfortable in all sorts of situations, and that includes his professional life. But his role as a chef isn’t necessarily that big of a stretch, since he’s got his own skills in the kitchen from his stint working as a chef.
“I was bartending, and at some point, I was like, I don’t think I can learn anything more about bartending. So I asked the chef, because the sous chef just left, I asked him if I could step in and he said yes,” Bravo said. “And so I started learning and cooking the little plates at first and then he made me part of the bigger process. And the kitchen was open so the customers could see us, and I was totally overplaying it. Sometimes the omelet didn’t have to jump so high, but I would just [do it] just for the sake of it. I discovered what it is to be a chef and the food was actually good!”
Emily and Gabriel’s burgeoning relationship, of course, gets complicated as the season progresses, leaving lots of potential storylines should the series get picked up for a second season.
While Netflix typically takes a month or two to decide whether to renew a show, Star said that he has ideas ready should they get the green light. So although he hasn’t “formally” started working on a second season, “there’s a lot of roads to take. So that’s the idea: to have a lot of possibilities.”
Collins is also excited about further exploring that Emily-Gabriel dynamic and said: “Hopefully we get to go to a season 2, because we can kind of maximize on that since we are left with a cliffhanger in the last episode, we don’t know how it ends yet.”
Emily In Paris launches on Netflix on Friday, October 2.