Just as I spent my last December, I find myself wrapped in a hoodie/blanket burrito in bed, somewhere between moderately to severely depressed, noshing on chocolate and hate-watching Emily in Paris. This time, the just-dropped second season.
After a deluge of online vitriol morphed into record viewing numbers last year, Netflix named Emily in Paris—a cotton candy confection of a show—its most watched comedy of 2020 and the HFPA even nominated it for a Golden Globe. Along with other disgruntled television watchers, I grumbled as the show and its fatally flawed ingenue Emily (arguably one of the worst Emily’s in history, according to one of the OK Emily’s) gained steam within the general cultural discourse.
In case you haven’t tuned in, Emily, an American social media manager who is transferred to French marketing firm Savoir’s Parisian office, is easy to despise. She represents the very worst in basic millennials. With her selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower and uncanny ability to somehow garner thousands of followers just for being trés cute or whatever, Emily is the queen of high-cringe fashion choices and being unspeakably bad at her job. Putting aside her complete ineptitude at learning French or even attempting a French accent, Emily’s worst offense was arguably that she’s the shittiest friend imaginable and never faced consequences for her betrayals (in season 1, at least).
Season 2 appears set to color viewers incandescent with rage, yet again (spoilers ahead). In the premiere episode titled, “Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi,” a nod meant more for fans of “Lady Marmalade” than it is for fans of genuine French culture, Emily can’t stop replaying memories of her and neighboring chef/Frenchman Gabriel doing the deed. She does this while running annoyingly down the street, as she often does, but doesn’t dare confess her mistake to her alleged “friend” and Gabriel’s ex-girlfriend, Camille. And when Emily’s roommate Mindy (one of the only redeeming characters of the show) discovers Emily fucked her best friend’s boyfriend, she exclaims, “GET IT GIRL”? Meanwhile, Emily is simultaneously pushing Camille to reconcile with Gabriel, which I can only assume means she’s in full axe murderer mode.
While some critics noted that the escapism of the show—an opportunity to explore the sights and finesse of an alternative European lifestyle in the middle of a pandemic shit storm—was the bedrock of America’s cultural fixation with it, that’s not why I watched it. I watched Emily in Paris because it’s fun to pretend that you have the energy to hate a fictional character who deserves every ounce of your side eye, while political and health infrastructure crumble around you.
In the wake of a triggering election and a holiday season from hell in which adult children chose not to see their family members in hopes of not accidentally killing them, I needed Emily the Terrible. And exactly one year later, perhaps I need her misguided ass again.