“Emily in Paris” is mindless fun. What it lacks in substance, it makes up for with how watchable it is.
The new Netflix original dramedy series, which became available to stream Oct. 2, was created by Darren Star, the creator of hit TV shows such as “Sex and the City” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” However, “Emily in Paris” has me wondering if America has progressed past shows of its nature.
Star’s “Sex and the City” was iconic for its time at the turn of the 21st century. However, if the same show were to be produced today, the script, as well as the cast, would need some major modern updates. I can’t help but feel the same way about “Emily in Paris,” even though the show is in fact new. The show has little diversity and a script that reads like it was written 10 years ago.
The show centers around Emily, a motivated young Chicago native played by Lily Collins, who gets an unexpected job opportunity in Paris at a marketing firm. Emily’s inability to speak French and assimilate to the culture causes workplace tension. However, as she gains popularity on social media by documenting her life in Paris, Emily begins to find a path as an influencer.
Despite being filled with cultural cliches about both Americans and the French, I found it enjoyable but in the most mind-numbing way. The romanticization of a young woman’s life personally acted as an escape from my own adult life and nothing more. At its very core, the most this show has going for it is the escapism it provides for young American women like myself. I found it entertaining in the same way I found a One Direction fan fiction entertaining when I was thirteen.
“Emily in Paris” features a pretty female lead, attractive romantic interests, a fun best friend and entertaining yet accessible humor. There’s nothing to unpack and not much to analyze, just a romance you can easily unwind to on a Friday night with a group of girlfriends and a tub of ice cream.
The simplicity of the show is also its downfall. It uses textbook cultural cliches about the French and it makes the show tone-deaf and out of touch with reality. Not every French person is antagonistically mean and hypersexual. This overly antagonistic view of the French encourages negative stereotypes and depicts Americans as the ultimate protagonist.
This makes sense from a marketing point of view because the show's target audience is Americans. However, it’s time we stop telling American audiences, especially female American audiences, that they are a perfect main character desirable to every foreign man. It’s time to stop telling American audiences their perspective is needed in other countries rather than the other way around.
Throughout the show, Emily keeps telling her colleagues she is bringing an American point of view to the marketing firm. However, the show could have been a lot more interesting if Emily acquired some knowledge of the French point of view as well.
It would have been valuable for Emily to realize life doesn’t always have to be so fast. In fact, she could have taken a life lesson from French culture and adopted a more relaxed and steady pace. It would have been nice for Emily to realize that, in terms of fashion, understated is sometimes better. While I did root for Emily at the beginning, her lack of character development over 10 episodes quickly turned me off of her. All of the other characters seemed to eventually mold themselves around Emily’s immaturity, indecisiveness and lack of impulse control.
However, this is only the first season. With the announcement of a second season, hopefully, Star will be able to turn this cliche-ridden show into a masterpiece.
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