When creating his latest dramedy Emily In Paris, creator and executive producer Darren Star said he wanted to capture the awe and excitement he first felt upon visiting the French capital during his college years.
“From that moment I kinda got stuck on Paris and I would go back whenever I could,” he said Friday during the Netflix series’ panel at the virtual PaleyFest Fall TV Previews event. “I’ve always sort of been thinking about how I could give viewers that experience and share that.”
With audiences stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast members of Emily In Paris believe the show and its depictions of the culturally rich city couldn’t come at a better time. Star was joined by Lily Collins, Ashely Park and Lucas Bravo on the panel to talk about the new series, which premieres Friday on the streamer, and how it gives viewers a dose of much-need escapism during stressful times.
Collins plays Emily and the series follows the fashionable, ambitious transplant’s journey of solidifying her place in her marketing firm while grounding herself in the City of Lights. Park plays Emily’s bestie Mindy, and Bravo stars as the culinarily-savvy love interest Gabriel.
For Collins, shooting Emily in Paris was very much “life imitating art” and full of “meta moments” where her real-life experiences in the European city mirrored those of her character. From getting used to buying groceries at the local supermarché or basking in the grandeur of the Paris Opera House, Collins said it’s almost as if she and her co-stars were living the story themselves.
“I think it really translates to the audience how it felt to be there. That doesn’t always happen and that’s a testament to how close we all were,” she said. “To have that felling on set and see it and feel that exact same way as an audience member, that’s really rare I feel.”
While the series may ring familiar for some Sex and the City fans, Star, who created SATC, and Collins, who also produces Emily, emphasized that the new show’s lead is more than just Carrie Bradshaw 2.0 with Parisian flair.
“We made a really big effort to say ‘We don’t want Emily to be the next Carrie’ because Carrie is Carrie. We want Emily to be Emily. We want her to be her own person,” Collins said, agreeing with Star’s assertion that Emily In Paris is “its own animal.”
The idea that Collins’ Emily is someone who might’ve watched Star’s Sex and the City and idolized Sara Jessica Parker’s Bradshaw adds another layer of relatability, Collins said. While it may feature steamy romances and efforts to make a name for oneself in a bustling city, Emily in Paris is still very much friendship and finding confidence in a foreign place, subjects that can easily strike a chord with viewer, Park and Bravo agreed.
“I just love the timing of when this show is being released because I feel that a lot of people hopefully can live vicariously through the friendships,” Park said, mourning the fact that viewers, especially college students returning to school, aren’t able to surround themselves with close friends as easily during the pandemic.
Bravo said he hopes the show can inspire viewers to broaden their horizons and go beyond their comfort zones.
“That’s when your brain is most affected, that’s when your brain is open to possibility. Give yourself the opportunity to get lost a little and not be sure about anything, to meet new people, new energies, new ways of thinking,” he said.
Videos of all PaleyFest panels, including this one, are available here.