“Emily in Paris” is an American comedy-drama (dramedy?!) on Netflix about a twenty-something workaholic named Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) who is suddenly uprooted from her life in Chicago and sent off to Paris. Why Paris, you may ask? Well, Cooper’s marketing firm has newly acquired a French partner called Savoir, and Cooper is sent to provide an American perspective. Not only had Cooper never been to Europe before moving there, but she also didn’t speak a lick of French… sounds like a good idea, right?
Created by Darren Star, the brilliant mind behind “Sex and the City,” this Parisian dream-world that Emily lives in exudes the same magic that was felt by viewers around two decades ago when they were introduced to the the world of Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbes and Charlotte York on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Netflix aired 10, 20-minute long episodes, making up season one of the show. Though it is a very fun show, “Emily in Paris” is chock full of faux pas that would make any French native cringe, as well as plot holes that simply leave viewers confused.
For starters, in every scene, Emily is covered head to toe in the newest designer digs, from glistening Chanel necklaces hanging perfectly around her neck, to an endless array of perfect couture handbags that rest in the crook of her elbow. I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that an Emily Cooper outfit is never complete without a perfect pair of red-bottomed Christian Louboutin pumps.
Fashion legend Patricia Field is partially to blame for this unrealistic aspect of the show; however, this is nothing out of the ordinary for the costume designer who is best known for her work with Star on “Sex and the City”—as if a columnist in Manhattan could afford the jaw-dropping wardrobe that belonged to Carrie Bradshaw for six whole seasons! Don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to have Cooper’s fashion sense; however, I fully understand that the income of a young marketing associate likely wouldn’t be enough to fund her trousseau.
Of course, upon moving into her perfectly gorgeous apartment with a stunning view of the city, Cooper stumbles upon, arguably, the most attractive man in all of Europe… and he can cook!
Luck of this kind could only be manufactured in Hollywood. Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), a young chef, lives in a flat right below Emily’s and immediately steals her heart. There’s just one catch; the American girl has a long-term boyfriend at home. Fear not, though, because as briefly as this poor guy was introduced to viewers in the pilot episode, he was tossed to the curb for bigger and better things.
Cooper manages to extend her circle beyond Gabriel and meets Mindy Chen (Ashley Park). Where, you might ask? In a garden, wielding a baguette—what is more French than that? In typical cheesy fashion, the two miraculously click, thus establishing their friendship. Not long after that, Emily finds Camille (Camille Razat) at a flower market, who then invites her to an art gallery opening that night, mere moments after meeting. Now get this: Camille just so happens to be the girlfriend of pretty-boy Gabriel. Are you lost yet?
There’s a lot of ridiculousness to this show, that you don’t truly see as such until putting things into perspective. For example, let’s think about the time that Cooper went for her daily run through the gardens of Versailles; it’s seen as completely normal as she is just exploring some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks, right? No—as someone who has been to France just a single time in my life, I easily connected the dots that this distance is not necessarily joggable. The grounds of Versailles are approximately 23 miles from the heart of Paris, where she most likely started her run! Netflix, are you saying Emily ran almost 46 miles in total? Or, would it be reasonable to assume that she drove out there each day, without having her own car? How did this even make it through editing?!
The show subscribes to an endless array of stereotypes surrounding Parisian people, including their chronic infidelity, snobby arrogance and nicotine addictions. As Cooper explores the big city, she seems absolutely oblivious to even the most common of French mannerisms, almost as though she did absolutely no research before her intercontinental move. This frustrates her pretentious boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), to no end; but, of course, in keeping with Emily’s uncanny luck, (spoiler alert) she makes it to the season finale just fine.
The portrayal of such tired clichés is enough to make anyone wonder why French actors would agree to contribute to such a show. Bravo and Razat were born and bred in France and addressed the endless criticism that the program received in its first week on Netflix.
“I’m not surprised that Parisians don’t like the series. Really, I’m not surprised at all because they don’t really like to be mocked,” Razat dished to Entertainment tonight.
“It’s a cliche because it’s partly and mostly true,” Bravo said, voicing his own perspective. “We’re portraying clichés and we’re portraying one single vision of Paris… At some point, if you want to tell a story about Paris, you have to choose an angle,” he said to Us Weekly.
Perhaps the reason why this show is so irresistible to Americans at the moment is that it acts as an escape from the suffocating climate that our country is in right now. After months of battling through the COVID-19 pandemic, which has halted most international travel, a small rendez-vous from the comfort of our own homes is sometimes exactly what we need to get our fix of life away from all of this madness.
I do believe that this program has the potential to last far beyond a mere season, and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it, despite the cringe-worthy moments. It’s light, fun and exactly the type of show that I could use to tune out reality from time to time.