This is two branched streets of the City of Paris lined with trees. The Eifle tower is shown against a slightly cloudy but bright greyish sky. The are building between the two streets and cars in the streets. This is used to represent Emily's view of Paris in "Emily in Paris".
Mike Swigunski

Emily in Paris is filled with many imperfections and it’s just like it’s nominal character, silly.

In the face of many thought provoking and gritty drama, sometimes it’s nice to have a moment of pure shallow binging. Not every show is meant to incite pause and reflection. Sometimes, it can be satisfying to see the totally normal and controlled chaos of other’s lives, especially when the drama is centered on romance. Emily in Paris is great smut content for those wishing to enjoy the excitement of messy love but at safe and manageable distance.

The Netflix comedy drama which follows Emily (Lily Collins), a Chicago native and marketing guru, and her daily conundrums after a move to Paris, gives a clean reprieve. Despite not knowing French, or even details about her new employer, Emily, a star marketing executive decides to replace her french speaking boss on a trip to Paris to bring the American perspective to the very “French” marketing firm, Savoir. Of course, her new colleagues and particularly, her new boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) take a quick notice of how absolutely absurd it is for Emily to take on Savoir with little to no ability to properly communicate in French. Still, for Emily, knowing the language is besides the point. And so, through sheer hubris, and also perhaps, a mix of arrogance and ignorance, she persists to win over her coworkers and clients. The show feels very much like the Devil Wears Prada in many respects. There’s the innocent and stylishly handicapped (this is subjective) novice and the chic and angry boss with a penchant for abuse and unreasonable requests but whom is so well dressed, it makes up for her terrible character. Emily in Paris is filled with many such archetypal characters and lots and lots of corny clichés.

But of course, a sappy, light drama wouldn’t be anything without at least one romantic trifle, and that’s where Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) comes in. He enters as a mysteriously hot downstairs neighbour, with ample amount of leisure time, always home just when Emily is in a bind. He is great at eschewing little flirtatious glances and sexual innuendos but apparently a very horrible boyfriend to Camille (Camille Razat) (the girlfriend, he never speaks off). Despite the unrealistically posh life that Emily seems to have in Paris (Emily who never seems to venture towards the less privileged neighbourhoods of Paris), she seems to triumph in such an agreeable way.

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It’s actually quite encouraging and pleasing to watch her share her discomfort with others, question behaviours when she is offended, and speak up even in moments of irritation. In fact, at times it’s surprising for her to express how upset she was in a socially awkward or eerie situation because of how well she navigates disconcerting conditions. Her tendency for self-preservation is enchanting and quite reminiscent of that of Illana (Ilana Glazer) in Broad City. She seems to be so comfortable with her positive self-image, that in spite of contrary critique, she never hesitates in self doubt, and always projects blame and negativity outward. Of course, this trait delays her ability to self- reflect on her actions and how she may be causing pain to those around her.

In any case, the really interesting aspect of Emily in Paris which is readily sidelined, is the glaring American imperialistic tone of the show. Emily, a young American woman with no French learning, decides to force her way into a French environment with very little context or information and instead of approaching her new workplace with care or consideration to others, she seems annoyed by the circumstance she created and requires her team to overlook everything to spare her, simply because she has a masters in marketing. True, she eventually takes steps to learn the language, yet the peevish American attitude towards anything foreign is renewed nearly every time she encounters a French speaking person in interactions beyond work or play. Really, it’s actually mad how the writers of the show try to twist her encounters in favour of her.

Of course, there’s also the issue of minority representation and the fact that the only two regular characters of color seem to exist purely to cheer on Emily. Are there no native Black, Brown or Asian people in Paris except for Mindy Chen (Ashley Park) and Julien (Samuel Arnold)? The generous stereotypes also beg the question: Are all French people irritable hedons? Ultimately the sparse attention to nuance and consideration is so very typical of Hollywood, and of frenzied light romance dramas of this type, it would likely feel ridiculous if the plot wasn’t predictably varnished and sensationalized. In truth, it’s almost OK since the show doesn’t posit it self to be authentic and inclusive—it’s all jokes.

Maybe, that’s the point. Emily in Paris is filled with many imperfections and it’s just like it’s nominal character, silly. Perhaps, the show is a nod to early 2000s tv shows about the dreamy white American right of passage for a woman to travel to a European country, meet new rich white men (sometimes married) and enjoy a memorable love affair. So, it’s probably a classic in its own right. At the very least, the show is an easy and enjoyable watch; perfect for those days when thinking feels like a chore. 

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