Emily in Paris

‘Emily in Paris’ Is the Crème de la Crème of Guilty Pleasure Netflix

The new series could be just the escapist content you needed, but there are caveats.
October 18, 2020
9 mins read

The new Netflix show “Emily in Paris” is an irresistibly binge-able fantasy. Lily Collins plays Emily Cooper, a Midwestern marketing associate who relocates to the Parisian “Savior,” a smaller marketing company that focuses on luxury items. Emily comes to bring an American perspective to their office — despite not knowing French. We follow Emily’s adventures as well as her budding Instagram @emilyinparis for the 10 episodes of the first season. So why should you watch “Emily in Paris”?

Watch To Indulge in a Sexy Escape

Many of us spend a lot of time inside these days, with nothing to think about but the catastrophe of the day. So what are you to do? One option is to escape to the streets of The City of Love from the comfort of your bed. Uplifting music backdrops picturesque views as Emily explores Paris. Live vicariously through Emily as she indulges in Parisian food, adventures and men.

Everything sounds sexier in French, and the show’s creator Darren Star doesn’t let us forget that. “Emily in Paris” naturally nods to Star’s most well-known show, HBO hit “Sex and The City.” Like “Sex and The City,” the protagonist struts the streets with fashionable looks, gossips about the drama over breakfast and has love affairs. There is even a moment where Emily types on her computer with a voice-over narration that feels extremely reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw, the sex columnist that debriefs each episode of “Sex and The City.” “Emily in Paris” offers the perfect brand of mindless escapism with a bit of sexy flavor.

Understand France A Tiny Bit More

Emily had never been out of America when suddenly she uprooted her life to move to Paris. The French language isn’t the only thing she doesn’t know — she has very little understanding of French culture, which leads to uncomfortable moments and misunderstandings. Throughout the show, Emily often makes mistakes regarding some idiosyncrasies of day-to-day life, such as going to the wrong floor of her apartment, (Europeans start at the ground floor, then one, and so on) or getting the date wrong for a reservation (Europeans typically use a day/month format, not month/date). Emily always asserts that “They do everything wrong in France,” exposing her arrogant American mindset. One of my favorite moments is during Emily’s first work meeting, when a coworker interrupts her to ask, “Why are you shouting?”

French cultural norms regarding leisure encourage Emily to relax more. One of her coworkers sums it up: “Americans live to work, the French work to live.” Emily’s workday starts hours later than it did in America and her coworkers take leisurely lunch breaks with wine. A stubborn American workaholic, she is skeptical at first but starts to embrace this culture, slowing down and savoring the moments of her new exciting life. As you watch the show you may be able to take a page from their book and learn to slow down in your own life.

Don’t Watch “Emily in Paris” Expecting Realism

Part of the joy of watching “Emily in Paris” is the fantasy of it all. Emily escapes from her life in Chicago and we escape from our own lives as we indulge in her new reality. But is the show realistic? Not in the slightest.

Alongside her personal and work adventures we watch Emily become an instant Instagram sensation. The first episode teases the Instagram Emily posts from her new Parisian balcony and rebrands her account as @emilyinparis. Throughout the show, Emily seamlessly chronicles moments in Paris as she goes about her day. Emily gains a hefty following and effortlessly becomes an “influencer.” In fact, this becomes a key point in the show: The use of influencers by companies hoping to promote their brand fits perfectly with Emily’s role as a marketing associate.

However, this storyline does not accurately represent what it means to become an influencer and the work required by the field. Simply put, Emily’s Instagrams look like a millennial hopping on the app for the first time: cringey boomerang selfies, random sights and hashtag puns. She puts in little effort and chalks it up to having “an advantage” because of her marketing degree. Real Parisian influencers weighed in on Emily’s Instagram account and found her outdated and basic (or “ringarde” as a fictional French designer calls her during the show). “She’s trying to find the easiest way to get more and more followers who respond to these kinds of clichés,” said Lamia Lagha via Vulture. “She’s playing that game. And it doesn’t feel [contemporary].”

Consider Yourself Warned: Diversity and Representation Is Lacking

The new hit Netflix show misses the mark on diversity and representation. Emily’s entire life both from America and abroad is fairly whitewashed. On my count, only two people of color ever enter the screen and they are sideline characters fraught with stereotypes. Emily meets Mindy, a Chinese migrant living in Paris but Mindy’s story is not well fleshed out and she often only fills the purpose of educating Emily on the Parisian lifestyle as well as being Emily’s hype-girl. She does have a backstory of moving away from China despite her father’s expectations, but this story seems shallow and flat. Any reference to her life in China feels more like stereotypes than character development.

A Flare article dives deep into the diversity problem within “Emily in Paris” and further explains how unrealistic it is to only encounter white people in Paris, given its vast diversity. “By overlooking the racial diversity in a country like France via the people Emily encounters, the show also misses out on the chance to address issues of racism and racial inequality in a meaningful and authentic way,” the article explained. In 2020, a white woman traipsing about a European city with little diversity and no conversation about race seems out of line with current sentiments.

In Conclusion (But No Spoilers)

Without any spoilers, I can tell you the short first season of “Emily in Paris” leaves you aching for more with an intense cliffhanger.  So far, the series has not been renewed for a second season, according to Seventeen Magazine. If the series is renewed by Netflix and production could start soon, we could potentially expect a release of the second season in October of 2021. However, given the pandemic’s effect on production for television and movies, nothing is certain.

This tweet pretty much sums how viewers feel after watching “Emily in Paris.” It may just be the epitome of a guilty pleasure show. Each passing scene gets more corny, unrealistic and truly infuriating at times. Yet its mindless and addicting qualities are perfect for today’s heavy news cycle and feelings of impending doom. “Emily in Paris” is a short but sweet break from reality.

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