American Menace: “Emily in Paris” TV-MA


Rachael Driskill

Sylvie feeling the same way about Emily as all viewers

On October 2nd, Netflix released a show titled “Emily in Paris”. Created and directed by Darren Star, the comedy-drama stars Lily Collins as Emily Cooper, a marketing executive and Chicago native who moves to Paris for work.

The show starts out in Chicago, where Emily is excited for a new promotion. When Emily’s boss Madeline finds out that she has become pregnant, she chooses not to go to Paris, instead sending Emily. Madeline is then barely heard from for the rest of the show, briefly appearing on a video call in a later episode. Emily’s current boyfriend Doug is upset at the news, but Emily is determined to make it work. Unfortunately, she speaks absolutely no French, which is taken very negatively by her coworkers, as it seems arrogant and ignorant. Her new boss Sylvie Grateau is incredibly cold and distant, she clearly disapproves of Emily and her ideas. Her coworkers are fairly rude to her, but they start to warm up to her slowly.

If you are looking for any sort of thought stimulus, this isn’t for you. This is the sort of show that you watch to check your brain at the door. “Emily in Paris” is filled with an excruciating amount of drama, not only in Emily’s work life, but also in her love life. The show is also incredibly explicit, not only in the spoken content, but the visual as well. It contains a great deal of sexual content (including underage), and has some brief allusions to Emily having a mild alcohol problem.

The lack of continuity from episode to episode is immensely irritating, and makes the show as a whole very difficult to understand. There seems to be no actual plot, and Emily faces no real consequences for any of her actions. She is a grating character to watch, and seems to have no real concept of life in the real world, instead living in her own bubble of social media and sex.

The acting itself is actually quite good. All of the actors did a really good job with portraying their characters as written, but the writing is what caused the disaster that the show ends up being. Darren Star is known for loads of other shows, including Sex in the City (about journalists exploring the Manhatten dating scene) and Younger (about a 40 year old trying to get a job and pass as a 26 year old), but “Emily in Paris” feels like the very first show a teenager in film school has written.

On a more positive note, the filming and costume design is absolutely phenomenal. The sweeping views of Paris match the idealized view of the city that most Americans hold, and while the clothes that Emily wears in the show are completely unrealistic for someone of her financial means, they are the perfect mix of professional and artistic. The way that they make her stand out against the more sophisticated fashion of France without making her dress poorly, is one of the redeeming qualities of this god-awful show.

I feel as though with a little bit more continuity and holding Emily accountable for her actions, the show could be greatly improved. It would have been far more interesting if we had seen more of her coworkers and friends, all of whom had the basis for a really well-written character, it was just not elaborated on enough.

One of the other failures of this show was the lack of diversity. Out of a very large cast of recurring characters, only two of them are people of color, and of the two being the only gay character in the whole show. Even then, they’re both poorly written. Mindy (the chinese girl) only talks about the negative stereotypes of china, speaking about how controlling and bad it is, even mentioning the fact that you can only have one child in china, a fact that hasn’t been true since 2015. Julien, a gay, Black man is portrayed as the steriotypical ‘Gay Best Friend’. He is only seen as the sassy support to Emily, and doesn’t really have any backstory at all.

Overall, I’d probably give this show a 2/10. It has some problematic stereotypes, and makes very little sense, but the acting is spot on and it is very aesthetically pleasing in terms of the filmography and the costume design. I would not recommend this as a general rule, but if you are looking for a brainless spaghetti of cliches to check out of your life for a bit, it’s not that terrible.