The new Netflix TV series garnered a lot of attention with its trailers teasing a fashion-filled extravaganza. Now that it’s available for streaming, we’re taking a look at some of the best and worst aspects of Emily in Paris.
Lily Collins plays the titular Emily – the young American marketing executive who gets sent to Paris for a year. The show follows her ups and downs whilst she navigates a new city, culture, friendships and love interests.
The show is created by Darren Star, best known for creating Sex and the City series. Because of Star’s background, it was expected that the new Netflix show would give a similar feeling to SATC, only more modern and with the ‘City of Light’ as its backdrop. Reactions and reviews have been quite mixed so we’ve summed it up and you can decide whether or not it’s worth your time.
Stereotypes and Clichés
There has been plenty of criticism about the protagonist, who is ignorant of the culture and tries to push Americanisms instead of attempting to assimilate. For example, she barely attempts to learn the language and is often moping about claiming that French people just don’t like her and that they’re difficult. Viewers have obviously voiced displeasure about this stereotyped portrayal of French people and culture.
Lucas Bravo, French actor who plays Gabriel on the show, said he understood where the criticisms were coming from.
“I think they’re right, in a way”, Bravo said. “We’re portraying cliches and we’re portraying one single vision of Paris.” However, Bravo concedes that “Reality is so rough these days, and we’ve been going through such a difficult time that I think the show is so light hearted, it’s so colorful, the fashion, the romance, the traveling. [Creator] Darren Star’s vision is so colorful and alive and funny. People needed something to just escape.”
Darren Star, voiced his own reasoning, stating: “The show is a love letter to Paris through the eyes of this American girl who has never been there. The first thing she is seeing is the clichés because it’s from her point of view. I’m not sorry for looking at Paris through a glamorous lens.” Fans of the show have reaffirmed that in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the show allows them to vicariously ‘travel’ and provides them with some good-natured escapism, even if it is cliché.
A lot of viewers have been confused and critical about the storyline. Namely, how Emily is so young, unqualified and yet everything is handed to her. She’s a young, 20-something-year-old who doesn’t speak French and is handpicked by her world-renowned marketing corporation to work in Paris. She’s also somehow got a wardrobe full of designer pieces and magically doesn’t twist her ankle on Parisian cobblestones.
Emily also has way too many instances of luck and fortuity, securing some outlandishly good work opportunities. Like when she uses a cookie analogy to convince an international hotel executive to have a meeting with her. But then again, doesn’t every show have moments where you have to suspend your disbelief? It is after all, a fictional comedy-drama series.
When it was announced that Sex and the City designer, Patricia Field, was hired for Emily in Paris, expectations for the costumes were high. Unfortunately for some, the outfits were a miss – too dated and reminiscent of SATC.
The outfits were… loud. Lots of clashing prints, colours, mixed fabrics and attention-grabbing accessories. It feels a little like an outdated image of what a ‘fashionista’ would look like: daring just for the sake of it. She’s got plenty of Chanel plaid, berets and matching twin sets or monochrome looks, which is pretty much every Parisian stereotype in fashion form. But Field has explained how this was deliberate, that Emily is the loud, naive American crashing her way through Paris with stars in her eyes.
It also visually contrasts her to her French colleagues, who are mainly dressed in more toned-down, timeless pieces. It quickly communicates that Emily is the outsider and comes from a very different cultural background.
So it’s pretty subjective whether the loudness of Emily’s outfits add or detract to the storyline and her character. And to be fair, there were some great looks that were chicer and more realistic. Her black, feminine party outfits were classic and Collins looked like a reincarnation of Audrey Hepburn.
With Season 2 most likely in the works, it’s up to you whether you want something light-hearted and easy-to-watch or if the inconceivability of the plot will irritate you the entire time. Generally, as long as your expectations are adjusted, watch the show and appreciate it for what it is: just for fun.
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