Sex and the City creator Darren Star has waved his wand on Lily Collins and the magical city of Paris to give Netflix viewers a taste of what it could be like to live and work in the French capital. The show has spurred comments from every critic and Parisian – mostly with their cries of how cliched and ‘un-French’ the series is and how it has been romanticsed to a point where it’s outdated and unrealistic.
If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon to watch it, Emily In Paris follows Emily, played by Lily Collins, an American (gasp!) who moves to Paris from Chicago when her company buys over a French luxury marketing agency. Like a fish out of water of course, Emily tries to make the transition and is faced with obstacles from the language (how could she move to Paris and not learn French?), her snobbish boss, disapproving colleagues and trying to make her long distance relationship with her boyfriend work. In true Sex and the City style, she flounces about the city in designer outfits (first rather American, then more fashun), cute cafes and glamorous events.
And Emily In Paris wouldn’t be a truly Darren Star series if it didn’t have its share of eye candy. Lucas Bravo, who plays Gabriel and is Emily’s crush, makes a delightful appearance every time.
French viewers have been ruffled by the series. First, there’s the question of Emily’s less-than-modest 50-square-meter apartment in a chic neighborhood a stone’s throw from the Panthéon. This kind of apartment would be out of reach for the majority of Parisians, who are all too familiar with the extortionate cost of housing in the city.
“How much does she earn? Because with a 30 sq. m. apartment, shopping at Chanel and the dry cleaning costs she must rack up, we’re easily at three times the minimum wage, at least. The salaries of junior marketing executives have changed,” said Pauline, of the Perle ou Navet podcast, on Twitter.
Just as surprising was the show’s fictitious marketing agency, where Emily works alongside colleagues who are an arrogant, cliché-ridden bunch. While the company’s boss takes the liberty of greeting coworkers with kisses, Emily’s own manager happily puffs away on cigarettes in the comfort of her office — an eccentric Gallic habit outlawed by the country’s Public Health Code since 15 November 2006.
“Didn’t anyone tell the screenwriters that no one smokes in offices in France anymore and that CEOs would never kiss a foreigner who comes to work in their firm? These clichés are ridiculous,” said one Twitter user.
#EmilyInParis personne n’a informé les scénaristes que personne ne fume plus dans des bureaux en France et qu’un PDG ne fait jamais la bise à un étranger qui débarque travailler chez lui ?… Ridicule ces clichés.
— Saint(e) Malo(uine) (@SainteMalouine) October 2, 2020
If one were to truly scrutinise Emily In Paris, you would note that it seems like it is that easy to gain followers through a bunch of random posts. And what app is that Emily posts on? If it’s an Instagram lookalike, everyone knows that posting unflattering images of yourself chomping on a croissant is certainly not going to do any favours for your feed. Any Instagram influencer would love to be able to get their hands on Emily’s formula for growing followers – could it be that it’s because she’s an American in Paris, living the life they’ve always dreamt of?
An “American perspective” on Paris
While the stereotypes may seem trivial, many viewers also regretted the lack of diversity in the cast of Darren Star’s new series, which fails to reflect the multicultural nature of French society. This phenomenon has been analysed by journalist Alice Pfeiffer in her book, Je ne suis pas Parisienne [I am not Parisian], deconstructing the myth of the legendary Parisienne which Emily strives to emulate with her designer outfits and trips to pavement cafés.
As amusing as it may be, Emily’s learning curve has failed to win over critics on both sides of the Atlantic. “Plucky, cheerful and arrogant, Emily plops into Paris determined to ‘bring an American perspective’ to French branding, never once considering that her proud cultural ignorance is actually a weakness, not a strength,” reads The Hollywood Reporter‘s review.
In spite of its shortcomings, Emily in Paris seems to please viewers around the world, who sent it to the top of Netflix’s most-watched shows, according to data from FlixPatrol. This popularity forms part of a long cinematographic tradition, inciting Hollywood to make Paris a hotspot for its plotlines.
“It’s the mythical city that inspires, the Paris of culture, of liberty, of pleasure, more than the urban reality…to the extent that it gets turned into a studio set A picture postcard Paris that reflects, beyond all the clichés, American neuroses,” said Antoine de Baecque, a French historian and former curator of the Paris Seen By Hollywood exhibition.
“Paris says more about American desire than the French capital. That’s why the cliché falls into its own trap, as the cinematographic revelation of a collective subconscious.” Seen that way, perhaps Parisians could have a newfound appreciation for Emily in Paris.
Source: AFP Relax News