It was one of the most anticipated shows on Netflix this Autumn. Emily in Paris (10 x 50 min), a Netflix series created by Darren Star (awarded for Sex and the city) is the story of 25 year-old Emily (Lily Collins) who moves from Chicago to Paris to work at a marketing firm.
There, she discovers the beauties of ‘the city of lights’ and the joys of meeting Parisians.
Of course her relationship with a boy in Chicago isn’t going to survive the first episode. Of course, the neighbour on the floor below (Lucas Bravo) is a hot chef that ‘knows his wine’. Of course, he already has a girlfriend.
All the critics are saying that this show is painfully cliché and extremely cringe. Of course it is. That was the point of this rom-com in the first place: explore Parisian clichés and make fun of the French.
The question is: does it work?
As I clicked on the first episode, I knew the show was going to be terrible. I wasn’t particularly excited by watching 8 hours of rom-com either. But I have to admit, they got me laughing in the first few minutes. So I changed my mind, sat back, and gave Emily a chance.
As with all clichés, some of them are true, some of them are false. Let’s just clarify a few things here:
- All French guys are super hot, and want to get in bed with you – wrong, I think that might just be a “Hi, I’m Lily Collins, and have amazing clothes” thing.
- All girls look wonderful in Paris and have amazing clothes: that’s sort of true. Every time I go back to Paris, it strikes me how pretty the girls are, and how proudly they walk down the boulevards.
- Smoking is kinda mandatory in Paris – honestly? Yes, kinda.
- French people take outrageously long lunch breaks. Sometimes, when the weather is amazing, yes. But a lot of people will eat in front of their screen too.
- Berets are a still a thing in Paris: just no. No one wears them! They’re virtually forbidden.
- French people really don’t make an effort with foreign-speaking persons, or with trying to understand English. I am ashamed to say, that is true. It seems like there is no time to try and understand someone who isn’t a fluent French-speaker. French people think that English are the same – that they don’t make an effort to understand accents. Personally I think English people are super tolerant about imperfect English.
- All French bosses are super mean: super wrong! I think that’s one of biggest flaws of the series. Sylvie Grateau (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) appears like a pale copy of Meryl Streep’s character Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.
- If you move to Paris, you will live in a ‘chambre de bonne’ like Emily’s (small room under the roofs that used to be reserved for staff). No, no, no! The apartment she is in is definitely not what a ‘chambre de bonne’ looks like in real life. Rather, she would have a 10, 5m2 room, with the kitchenette right next to her bed, and the shower on the floor landing.
It’s great to read the reactions to the show in France. At first, everyone went: “This is cliché and stupid, avoid watching it” and then, with a second thought: “Oh dear, are we really that rude?” If this show is food for thought on French media, and could alert Parisians on their occasional rudeness to foreigners, so much the better!
Finally, I just wanted to say that not all French are Parisians, and that many French people wouldn’t assimilate at all to the French stereotypes depicted in Emily in Paris. This is really a show about Parisians, not about the French.
So is the show worth watching? I can only answer that by another question: “do you like rom-coms?”