Emily in Paris

Emily in Paris

2020 - United States

‘The show presents the ultimate fantasy of what Parisian living would be based on popular movies and stereotypes’

Review by Jennifer AJ

From Sex and the City creator Darren Star comes another female-fronted show, this time for the millennials and Gen Z crowds. With a self explanatory title, the Netflix series brings to life every young girl’s dream to move to the City of Love, Paris. Fun, frothy, and very fashion-forward, Emily in Paris fills a niche long abandoned by Hollywood and makes chick flick-esque stories popular again. Coming out during the height of the pandemic, it also inadvertently acted as a wish fulfillment for all the people stuck at home for months on end. It truly couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. 

 The series follows the titular Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), a young executive who relocates from Chicago to Paris for a job at a French marketing firm. Tasked with providing an American perspective to her French clients, Emily immediately bumps into cultural clashes with her new colleagues. With her boisterous and eternally optimistic attitudes, Emily slowly begins adjusting to her new Parisian life: making friends, acing the workplace, becoming social media darling, and striking some romance along the way.

Anchoring the show is Collins’s wholehearted exuberance as Emily. Bright eyed and looking every bit like Audrey Hepburn reincarnated, she’s the perfect person to portray a fashion-obsessed girly girl who lands a dream job in Paris. She’s also bolstered by a charming supporting cast, especially Ashley Park as her ludicrously adorable BFF Mindy and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu as Emily’s straight-laced boss Sylvie. 

Emily in Paris

With a cute title like Emily in Paris, one can already imagine what the show’s going to be. And it’s everything it suggests. This show is as girly as they come. Vibrant colors of all shades permeate every frame, especially on Emily’s insanely extravagant wardrobes. Patricia Field, the legendary costume designer of SATC consulted for the show, which explains all the over-the-top ensembles that Emily and her cohorts wear every episode. How does Emily – a mid-level marketing executive just starting off in a famously expensive city – afford those luxury items you asked? You gotta suspend your disbelief just like you did when Carrie Bradshaw regularly wore Prada and Jimmy Choo while living in a spacious West Village apartment on a weekly columnist salary. 

And then there’s Paris as the backdrop of the show. The show presents the ultimate fantasy of what Parisian living would be based on popular movies and stereotypes: pretty girls dressed in head-to-toe Chanel having pain au chocolate for breakfast, lunch in a pretty bistro on the banks of Seine, and then a night out in archival designer collections. Paris is limited to everywhere with the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, or the Palais peeking in the background. (absolutely no sight of the sardine-packed metro, the urban area or those pesky pickpockets!)

This romanticized depiction of Paris has gotten a bit of criticism for upholding outdated stereotypes that no longer reflect the city and its culture. It is also widely criticized for portraying tone-deaf notions like the idea that French people are always having affairs, the various cringey cheap shots at Asian culture, as well as the tired love triangle with a side of infidelity subplot that define every 1990s and 2000s chick flick shows. 

Emily’s characterization also veers toward insensitive at times: in their effort to have Emily save the day with her French cohorts, the writing often puts the blame on the locals as opposed to having Emily take accountability for her ignorance. This forced perspective kind of ruins the idea that Emily’s supposedly really competent and likable.

Ultimately, if you can get past these contrivances, it is a fluffy confection of a show that looks pretty and goes down easy. Every bit a guilty pleasure, Emily in Paris is the kind of show you have on when you’re in the mood for pure eye candy and total “check brain at the door” mode.

Published on January 18th, 2024. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.

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