Emily in Paris: SERIES REVIEW

Netflix's 'Emily in Paris' is an ill-timed love letter to American  exceptionalism
Source: NBC News

Just a couple of weeks ago, I FINALLY found the time and patience to sit down and watch the recent Netflix series Emily in Paris. It’d been over a month overdue since the crazy hype of its premiere, and for me having lived in France (and visited Paris countless of times), I decided to spend a weekend afternoon seeing what it was all about (after all, it’s only ten episodes, each 30 minutes long, so it was entirely feasible).

Granted, I knew that going in, the series wasn’t to be taken seriously. From what my expat friends (even sister) who’d already watched it, the show’s premise is pretty ridiculous, if not for its unbelievable storyline. But I suppose that was the point of making the show in the first place, so I went in without many expectations, and just to enjoy the ride as best as I can.

If I had to describe Emily in Paris using one word, it would be “kitsch.” And very much so. Emily is your walking American stereotype, in love with Paris and making many cultural faux-pas along the way, much to the French’s disapproval. Her outfits are cute, but unrealistic: after all, no one walks around town in high heels all day! It surprised me that the show didn’t address the possible pain Emily would’ve gotten strolling all over Paris in HIGH HEELS, but alas this is fiction, not reality…

Fiction is also glaringly obvious with the French whom Emily meets. They fall into two categories: the cold, unfriendly bunch and the attractive bunch. The former is mostly seen at Emily’s workplace, especially with the Miranda Priestly-wannabe of her boss, Sylvie. From my experience with the French, it is true that there are a handful of stuck-up individuals, but they were never mean: if Emily’s the walking stereotype of the US, then Sylvie’s that of the French. I found it hilarious that the show made Sylvie prance in that “snobbish” manner, to really accentuate the French cliché. NO ONE walks like that in Paris!

As for the latter, it was very unbelievable that Emily would be meeting tons of French men in her day-to-day life. Not just that, but attractive French men– and all who want her. First off, not every French man is tall, dark, and dresses in suits on casual outings (let alone speak fluent English). Honestly, I’ve found many French men to be quite short, on average, perhaps around 5’6” to 5’7” (about 1.68 meters). And they’re not always that flirty with women– in fact, many of them are really shy, and it’s like pulling teeth when trying to flirt with them. Many aren’t very direct, so it’s usually the women who have to be, from what I’ve seen and experienced in my interactions with French men.

Despite the gross stereotypes of the French that would insult actual French people, I did appreciate the show inserting small doses of expat reality into the series. For one, the dog poop is VERY accurate: it’s everywhere in Paris. If you’re not careful, you’ll have quite a mess to clean up! The chambre de bonne/small apartments are pretty to-the-point, too, although not everyone gets wide, sweeping views of Paris like Emily does from their balconies: I don’t know where exactly her apartment would be, but it would’ve definitely been in the heart of the city (think 1ère or 7ème arrondissements). Unless you’re rich, it’d be very hard to afford a place in that part of town as it’s close to the touristy landmarks to see and do.

Overall, I would consider Emily in Paris to be fun and lighthearted, but empty of depth. Not to say that all series need to be thought-provoking, but it felt as if Emily hasn’t learnt much about fitting into French society. In other words, she doesn’t really have many huge hurdles to overcome, the most being her job (and even then it’s not that bad). The characters don’t have much substance and are one-dimensional: Emily was written to be plucky and charming, which makes her navigating Paris to appear so effortless, when in fact, it’s not that easy. But again, it’s fiction…

I’d say that Emily in Paris is your “one-and-done” kind of show: it’s funny to watch, but very predictable and boring at the same time. If you don’t want to think much, you can watch this show. *plus, I’m kind of mad that the show queer-baited us with Emily and Camille, only to revert to the heteronormative norm…that was kind of cheap, to be honest, but that’s just me…*

Have you watched in Emily in Paris yet? Let me know! Merci de lire cet article!

— The Finicky Cynic

Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic

4 thoughts on “Emily in Paris: SERIES REVIEW

  1. I don’t think the French will ever be happy with the way they are represented/perceived by others, and this is probably true of most people. Beyond the entertainment, however, I’m afraid that unaware viewers will take it as a documentary and end up believing what they see. But after all, that’s what happens with fiction. In the end, the most important thing would be to make Americans want to go and see for themselves, without turning into Emilys. Merci pour la revue honnête de la série.

    1. rebbit7

      I can see that with the French! I also see that Americans (from Emily’s perspective) would be uncomfortable being portrayed as plucky and delusional; I was, too! Best is to go to Paris and experience it for yourself, as you wrote. Merci pour ton commentaire!

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