“Emily in Paris”?

“Emily in Paris” has taken Netflix by storm. Is the hit show all it’s hyped up to be? (Netflix)

Trending in the top ten on Netflix for weeks, Emily in Paris has been watched by millions of Americans. While it is an addicting show that many—including myself—binged over just a few days, it is hard to tell if its popularity is due to positive reception or just from the fact that people have more time on their hands than ever and need a new series to watch. 

Directed and produced by the same crew as Sex and the City, Emily in Paris follows a young woman who has just moved from Chicago to work for a marketing agency that represents high-end designers. But here’s the catch: not only does she not speak a word of French, she is coming in place of her boss and the message has been lost that Emily is coming in lieu of her. This leaves Emily to navigate her new surroundings where she finds romance, friendships and of course, drama. 

For many, watching Emily prance through the streets of Paris eating croissants and attending fashionable events without the worry of a deadly virus, is a nice break from reality and a chance to dream of travel. This taste of life before the pandemic is refreshing and one of the main reasons why I personally found myself bingeing all ten episodes. Its beautiful scenery, extravagant fashion and attractive characters almost made me forget about the apparent and abundant flaws in the show—almost, but not quite. 

Although Emily has just come to a new city where she doesn’t speak the language and has no acquaintances, somehow she is able to adapt pretty much seamlessly to her new life—rather, those around adapt to her. Somehow, everyone she meets speaks perfect English and is able to accommodate for her lack of knowledge. Now, I understand that many people may not speak a second language immediately once arriving in a new country, but even after Emily enrolls in French lessons, she is still only able to say things like “bonjour” and “vous” after months in Paris and ten episodes of the show. In short, she never learns French, not even close. 

A hardship that Emily does face, however, is trying to win over her rigid boss. Sylvie, who is annoyed by Emily’s unprecedented arrival to her agency, does not see how a girl that speaks no French expects to converse with high-fashion, French designers. With this, she tries to get rid of Emily by making her time at the workplace as difficult as possible. Now, this sounds like a real problem, but no, not for Emily. Despite her boss’s best attempts to derail her success, she is able to pull ideas out of thin air with nearly no research or forethought, earning her countless recognitions and promotions. Emily is somehow able to win over high-class French entrepreneurs—who are known for disliking Americans and those who don’t speak French—with relative ease.

The show also plays into redundant cultural stereotypes. Emily embodies the perfect stereotypical American millennial, carefree and selfie-obsessed, while the French are also portrayed to fit their perceived mold, cold-hearted and luxurious. This show barely touches on true French culture and is somewhat ignorant to glamorize how every American would like to live out their European utopia. 

Everyone acts as you expect them to and the hardships that the main character faces are downplayed and unrelatable. Many people can relate to losing a job that they love, but even when Emily is suddenly fired, she ignores her dismissal, walks right back in the next morning and saves the day. Not so relatable. 

Emily struggles with nothing. She gets every guy she meets, always ends up doing her job perfectly without any preparation and manages to rack up thousands of followers on Instagram by posting average looking photos of some bread. Maybe it’s that I’m just jealous of her good fortune, but it’s slightly infuriating how everything seems to just fall into place. 

Now, I know I have gone through many reasons to avoid the show, but I must note that I still found it enjoyable to watch in the end. It was humorous, sweet and the setting makes you dream of a future in Paris. While its relatability is absent and its portrayal of stereotypes is borderline offensive, I think that the show has served its purpose of allowing people to daydream of travel during a time bound indoors. The show wasn’t meant to be accurate or really embrace reality; rather it is lighthearted and entertaining. It may not be critically acclaimed, but if you are looking for a fun show to pass the time that will simply let you enjoy yourself, it is easy to understand why Emily in Paris has caught the attention of so many.