Like the rest of the world at the moment, my spare time revolves around whatever is on Netflix. Though given I only recently caved into getting Netflix in the first place, you should probably let me off on that. Normally I fill my spare time with going to the gym, travelling etc but well…you know.
After seeing most of my timeline talk about Emily In Paris I decided to give it a watch. I last visited the city with my boyfriend back in December and I was keen to relive the trip.
Even though when we went it was freezing, there was a Metro strike and a waiter snatched my plate off the table as I was about to take a bite of my lunch because he said I took too long in the bathroom. Just for context, there was one toilet with 18 people queuing. The toilet had no seat and no lock. I didn’t think my pilates training would come in handy during this trip but I was wrong, as I had to simultaneously hover and keep a cast iron door shut with one leg. The hallway to the bathroom also had a direct view to the doorless men’s room. You know, when you order le crêpe but get le sausage instead? Anyway, I digress.
Alas, I wanted a reminder of French life for all its quirks. Something light I could put on to unwind with after a busy week creating content for my clients. So on went Emily In Paris.
The General Gist
Emily works in marketing in Chicago. She is asked to move to the Paris office by her boss who was supposed to go herself but has found herself up the duff. Emily leaves her boyfriend behind who promised to visit her but doesn’t because he doesn’t do long distance. This leaves Emily free to kiss her hot neighbour Gabriel who JUST SO HAPPENS to live in her building. Only she doesn’t realise Gabriel has a girlfriend Camille, who Emily met randomly in the street before she realised they were together.
In between all of this nobody likes Emily at work. Which might be because Emily doesn’t know any French and despite going to French lessons doesn’t make much of effort to speak it. Lots of French men pop up in between scenes, and they are mostly married. Or are having an affair with Emily’s boss who happens to also hate Emily too.
There’s also Gabriel’s pan which can never be washed. Also something about French plumbers who won’t fix anything before you fetch them a croissant and coffee. I think you have everything you need to know now.
Emily In Paris… Where Have I Seen This Show Before?
The writer of Emily In Paris is Darren Star who is best known for his work on Sex And The City. The costume designer from Sex And The City was Pat Field who also does wardrobe on Emily In Paris. If you’ve ever seen the episodes where Carrie went to Paris (American Girl In Paris Part Une/Deux) then Emily In Paris will look very familiar. Even the hotel Carrie stayed in, Hotel Plaza Athénée features in one of the episodes.
As a huge fan of SATC (the series not the movies) I love this throwback. Arguably, it’s Pat’s vision that saves the ultra corny scenes, because you’re too distracted by the beautiful outfits. Though her brilliance of course created a few issues as a result.
Firstly, Emily is working in marketing in a junior role in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Yet she can somehow afford incredible designer outfits and even has the room for them in her tiny apartment. Are we sure Emily’s last name isn’t Bradshaw? The ‘Carrieisms’ don’t stop there either, as when Emily heads to the ballet, she is pictured in a tulle skirt that looks suspiciously familiar in style to what Carrie wore in the Paris episodes.
Emily also steps in ‘la merde’ several times in her beautiful shoes. Yep you guessed it, Carrie did this in the Paris episodes too. Lucas Bravo who plays the hot neighbour Gabriel even said in an interview he did with E! Online, that he was influenced by Aiden’s character on the show.
Let’s not forget The Devil Wears Prada likeness either in the form of Emily’s disapproving boss and you know, the fact the main character is also called Emily. Other female first names are available, Daz.
“Why Is It An American Feels At Home in Paris When They Eat French Fries?”
Something that irked me is the fact despite being in Paris, everything was set up to feel like an American sitcom. I know to do well on Netflix that’s probably a prerequisite, but hear me out here.
Let’s take the first friend Emily made as an example. Despite being 4,000 miles away from America, the first person – a girl named Mindy- who comes and talks to her is you guessed it… American, albeit with her accent, as the actress who plays her is from California. This is despite Mindy supposedly being from Shanghai and lists all the places she’s lived which didn’t include America.
In two of the episodes Emily meets other Americans. One of which is an older lady. The two take great delight in eating in Ralph Lauren’s restaurant because everything is in English. The pair giggle that even the waiters are not allowed to speak French in his restaurant. I can only imagine French viewers would have found this pretty insulting.
The Creme Brulee Scene
One of the saving scenes of the show is when Pierre Cadault breaks creme brulees because he is feeling sad after a disastrous evening the night before. Think of it as the French version of popping bubblewrap to relieve stress.
It captures a more authentic kind of humour that doesn’t feel as ‘pilot TV show scripted waiting for the audience to laugh’ as Emily’s scenes with Mindy did. If only there had been more quirky moments like this, it would have added a lot more depth to the characters.
I get it, Emily In Paris isn’t supposed to be complex or serious… but it just lacked something in the writing, you know? Another culprit of ‘commercialism so it makes it big on Netflix’ no doubt.
Emily In Paris? Comme Ci Comme Ca…
I kept watching Emily In Paris because like you, I found it to be some much-needed escapism. Yes, despite its obvious flaws. Though it’s almost like seeing a car crash in front of you, in that it’s terrible but at the same time you can’t help but look.
While many TV shows have pinched references and themes from other shows, I do think this always comes at a cost. Like when I used to design logos for clients, and they’d tell me they want it to be like another they have seen. Copyright issues aside, the problem with this mentality is that you’ll never escape their shadow. The idea lacks clout because it just rehashes things we have seen time and time again.
So, by all means give Emily In Paris a watch – not least not for the beautiful array of French men it features. But just be aware it’s not an accurate representation of life in Paris. More, a heavily curated view that clings to the past successes from Star and Field’s back catalogues.