Review: Emily in Paris

Laramie Hevland reviews the latest Netflix craze, Emily in Paris

Laramie Hevland
19th October 2020
Credit: IMDb
Emily in Paris is Netflix's attempt to make a modern Sex and the City, in which the titular character's job takes her from Chicago to Paris and she gets to see a whole new side of life.

After seeing the trailer, I was prepared to hate this show and write a huge rant about it. However, it turned out to be somewhat less irritating and more watchable than I anticipated.

You’ve may have seen plenty of critiques by now regarding Emily’s portrayal of Paris and its residents, and they are all completely spot on.  Many have said that it seems like none of the writers involved have been to France; but I’d go a bit farther and say that it’s unlikely that any of them have even watched Ratatouille.

Credit: IMDb, Carole Betheul, Netflix.

Emily in Paris hits all the classic tropes and stereotypes (croissants, berets, French people are all pretentious and mean and obsessed with sex) and while the titular character is constantly gushing about the beauty and joys of the city. It never gets to the heart of why she or anyone else loves it, and only gives us the generic “pretty streets and lights and love.” It’s not only the French who receive this kind of treatment though, as Emily is an absolute caricature of an American (work-obsessed and wears too many colours and doesn’t know any other languages).

Several episodes start to set up a conflict between French and American working culture, but it doesn’t lead to anything

Credit: IMDb, Netflix.

What was far more irritating than those inaccuracies though, is just how badly this show wants to be edgy and thought-provoking. There’s lots of discussion of sex, and some fairly PG-13 depictions, but none of it really goes anywhere or has anything interesting to say. Several episodes start to set up a conflict between French and American working culture, but it doesn’t lead to anything besides more scenes of French people being annoyed and mean. Another episode has a large, incredibly predictable subplot about the vapidity of many social media influencers, and in one memorable plotline, our protagonist is bold and innovative enough to point out that perfume adverts can sometimes be sexist.

But despite all those faults, Emily in Paris isn’t without its merits. There are several genuinely funny moments, the side characters are largely charming and likeable, and the Devil Wears Prada-Esque dynamic between Emily and her boss works really well. Ultimately watching this isn’t a terrible way to kill a few hours but it’s unlikely to leave any lasting impressions, besides perhaps the desire for a nice pastry.

Credit: Netflix on Youtube.
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