'Emily in Paris' Creator Dishes on That Messy Cliffhanger and Season 2
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the entire first season of Netflix’s Emily in Paris.
Oh non! Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) is in a bit of a romantic pickle at the end of the first season of Netflix’s romantic comedy, Emily in Paris. The American expatriate not only found herself very nearly fired (somehow) from the French luxury marketing agency she was working out of, but the social media maven is now at the center of a very messy love square.
After a season of flirty looks, more-than-friendly kisses and awkward third-wheeling, Emily and her hot downstairs neighbor, chef Gabriel (French actor Lucas Bravo), took their sexual tension into the bedroom and had one unforgettable night — right before he was set to leave Paris to fulfill his life’s dream of owning and running a tiny, humble restaurant in Normandy. But, it being a Darren Star show and all, Gabriel’s plans changed on a dime when wealthy investor Antoine (William Abadie) offers to help buy the local restaurant and have him run it. Crisis averted: Gabriel’s staying! Great news, right? One would think…
But there are two not-so-tiny wrinkles with Emily and Gabriel seemingly diving headfirst into a relationship. There’s Gabriel’s ex-girlfriend and Emily’s Parisian friend, Camille (Camille Razat), who isn’t aware of their complicated history and new romantic status. Then there’s fashion businessman Mathieu Cadault (Charles Martins), who’s more than ready to whisk Emily off on a weekend European getaway to St. Tropez. Yeah, it’s about to get désordonnée.
ET hopped on the phone with Star to get the scoop on the season; the love square between Emily, Gabrielle, Mathieu and Camille; that surprising Gossip Girl joke (you know the one!); and what he’s planning for a potential season 2.
ET: What lessons did you learn from Younger and Sex and City that informed your approach to Emily in Paris?
Darren Star: Every show is its own animal. Every show has to stand on its own, and have its own reason for being. What did I learn? I think first of all, you need a story to tell for its time. It has, thematically, something that feels resonant with the audience. And I think with Sex and the City, we hadn’t seen a show talking frankly about sex and relationships on television in an uncensored way that really spoke to those experiences that the audience was having. You want to feel like you’re relatable in that sense. Younger was thematically very much about a woman who — I knew so many women like this — was trying to be relevant after raising kids and getting back in the workplace. With Emily in Paris, the theme is about just how living in another culture broadens you as you leave your comfort zone. Thematically, it’s about a character who really didn’t plan on it, but is having a cultural experience that changes her.
The show addresses the differences in attitudes and cultures between the French and American. How did you go about depicting those differences?
It really came out of my many, many trips to Paris over the years. I have been a bit of a lifelong Francophile and have a lot of friends that are French — just observing the differences and my own experiences there. I felt like there’s a lot of humor in that. That’s the country I was most familiar with and understood. Also, I think there’s been a bit of a long love affair, this affection for America and France — and Americans in Paris. It’s been through so many works of art, Hemingway, films. There’s a real tradition of it, but I hadn’t seen it like I wanted to express it for this generation.
The season ends with many unanswered questions about the future, and the relationships that Emily’s cultivated during her time in Paris. First, Emily and Gabriel seem to be moving forward with their relationship. Are they officially a couple?
No, I think that’s a big question mark. I think they had a really wonderful moment together, but what’s the intention? That the idea that Gabriel thinking this was a farewell. But I don’t think Gabriel would have split up with his girlfriend if he wasn’t moving away. There’s no way Emily would have been with Gabriel thinking that he was still with Camille. So I think that the question is where does it go from here? Where Emily is with Gabriel is really unexpected. She’s left at a very unexpected place.
What challenges do you foresee them facing because there’s quite a lot of layers going on here?
Yeah, that’s all for the second season. That’s everything we’re thinking about in season 2.
Mathieu Cadault is still very much in the picture. What was your intention in having these two very different men orbiting Emily’s world and vying for her attention?
Choices. I don’t think Gabriel was really a real, actual, romantic possibility for Emily when she met Mathieu. She very definitively ruled him out in that regard.
Does Emily actually go through with the St. Tropez trip with Mathieu? Is that something we should keep in mind?
Yes, I think that their relationship is something that’s right now. As far as he’s concerned, he’s committed to full steam ahead.
In your mind, is there a “right guy” for Emily out of Gabriel or Mathieu?
No, I don’t. Yeah, I don’t. Not necessarily. And it could be neither.
Camille could have easily turned into like a jealous ex very quickly at the end of the season when she and Gabriel break up, but she doesn’t. What was your plan with that character?
Sure, and she and Emily developed a really nice friendship. I think Emily really wants her as a friend, and it was important for Emily to keep and maintain that friendship — and also not disturb it. I think that definitely opened a lot of questions for how things progress in season 2.
She’s also not aware of Emily and Gabriel’s very complicated, more-than-friends history. Who’s more at fault here for not telling her?
Up to that point of the very end of the season, I don’t think anybody’s at fault because it’s something that Emily was very clear to Gabriel about, that she respected the boundaries of their relationship.
Younger does a great job of keeping that tension alive and there’s an art to navigating these messy waters when you have a love square moving forward. What is the trick to keeping that tension alive without villainizing the characters?
It’s starting with characters that actually have good intentions in mind, that have a sense of a moral compass in terms of how they want to behave. I think that’s when the choices become difficult when they do care about if they’re hurting people, and also are not just hurting people. But following a sense that they have a moral compass, that it’s more important to them than doing what [they want], it conflicts with what’s in their heart.
Gabriel also decides to partner with Antoine so he can run the restaurant and stay in Paris. But it’s hard to trust Antoine…
I don’t think you should.
Is that a deal that’s too good to be true?
Antoine probably, as we’ll find out, made him a good offer. And also, that’s a straight business relationship. It doesn’t come with the strings of a girlfriend and a family. It’s a business relationship. The [original] deal [Gabriel rejected] was coming from Camille’s family, and he didn’t want those kinds of strings attached to it. Antoine is more of a businessman; it’s a different situation.
Since the season was filmed pre-COVID, are you facing more complications in getting a second season greenlit? Have you already begun discussing season 2 and how logistically that could look?
We’ll take it one step at a time when we get the order to shoot. Then we’ll figure out how we can do it.
The Gossip Girl joke in episode six was a pleasant surprise and one of the most unexpected comedic moments of the season. Can you talk about the genesis of that scene?
I think that, to me, is Pierre Cadault was really almost a forbidding character who seemed elitist to Emily. They had something in common. And I think that was a comment on how sometimes TV series are a universal language that connects us. We’re all seeing this entertainment, and that ultimately is what connected the two of them. You think, “Oh, this guy’s not watching Gossip Girl,” but yeah, of course, he is. Of course, he is. It just totally humanizes him.
Emily in Paris is streaming now on Netflix.
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