Whether you loved it or hated it, there’s no question Emily in Paris was the medication we needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure it was a little silly and unrealistic, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need when we’re living through these unprecedented times.
A lot of Frenchies were irritated by the show’s portrayal of their capital city. From Monica De La Villardière writing for Vogue to Lindsey Tramuta who argued the show, “is not a harmless series of cliches,” she said to France 24. “When Paris is portrayed incessantly that way, for generations, it contributes to a problematic long term understanding of the place itself.”
For me, I binged Emily in Paris after my wedding was postponed, my move abroad cancelled and I was unemployed (this is definitely rock bottom, right!) and just wanted a break. I think I enjoyed the show so much because it transported me to the city of lights with the fashion, the sites and of course, the food!
I was able to feel like I was in the city, despite dressing like this everyday:
I decided to reach out to three new friends I made in Paris to pick their brain about the show and what they think needs to change before season two launches later in 2021.
I met Erin recently in our French Civic classes we’re obligated to take as new Frenchies. Erin is an American who moved to Paris last year and offers a realistic first impression of Paris, which you’ll notice differs significantly from Emily’s!
Lucile is a childhood friend of my husband and who I’m glad to call one of mine since my move. You’d recognise her from my piece The French Woman According To French Women. Lucille is smart, funny and super stylish, however, she isn’t the greatest Harry Potter trivia teammate 😂 Lucile offers a true Parisian’s perspective of the Netflix cult-show.
Then there’s Krystal who I met on Instagram. She’s an American photographer who has been living in Paris for almost a decade. She’s a published author, podcaster, Instagrammer at @missparisphoto and all-around nice person.
Without further ado here are three women living in Paris and their attitudes about Emily in Paris
Q1- What did you think of Emily in Paris?
ERIN: Overall, not great. It’s basically taking every stereotype of USAmericans and the French and blowing them up to the extreme while totally missing the reality of what it feels like to move to another country – this is certainly true for anyone not wealthy and white but even true for most white people. Furthermore, it has a USAmerican saviour vibe that seems to indicate that USAmericans are somehow more advanced than Europeans. I would possibly throw my TV out the window if Emily had decided instead to move to an African or Asian nation to save them from their antiquated Instagram marketing strategies, for example. Did I watch the whole thing? Yes, for the absurdity of the stereotypes and a general feeling that the point was always somehow missed, so I can’t lie that there were some decent entertainment points warranted, but on the whole, it felt like a dystopian nightmare where as long as you were young enough, white enough, and rich enough, you could be celebrated as an artistic genius no matter how vapid your personality…it sounds familiar, yeah? Remove any self-reflection and consequences for actions, and you have Emily in Paris.
LUCILE: I thought the show was fun! It was a silly, easy show to watch.
KRYSTAL: I thought it was fun and brainless like much of Netflix. I know a lot of people were angry over it which I find a little silly, you don’t watch Baywatch or Sex in the City and expect them to portray the places exactly like they are in real life, so why did Emily in Paris have so much the pressure to do so? I really enjoyed seeing Paris beautifully portrayed. As someone who has lived here for close to a decade, it was cool to see the streets with no trash cans or dog poo! I also laughed at some of the scenes because they felt true in my experiences here.
Q2- Do you think it accurately portrayed life in Paris?
ERIN: No. The men are not all tall and handsome, as it turns out. Emily somehow avoids the metro entirely and never has a French person sing the praises of Doliprane to her or talk about how delicious potatoes grown in France are and how they are superior to their UK potato neighbours. No one makes fun of the Swiss. Also, French people are super nice in real life, and Emily somehow brings out the worst in them. Though given her complete lack of self-reflection and judgment, I can’t really be surprised there. It does accurately portray the amount of dog shit on the streets.
LUCILE: Yes and no! There are many aspects that were a bit far-fetched. Her “Chambre de bonne” (former “maid’s rooms” that were turned into apartments) being twice the size of what they actually are, for example, made me laugh out loud. A lot of her interactions with French people were also a bit “cliché”. In the show’s defence, I work for a Couture house in Paris and some of what she experiences is very close to reality. A lot of the show’s work-related “nonsense” I have actually seen first-hand at my work.Did I see myself represented on screen? Absolutely not. However, I do think her experience could be close to what some “élite” foreigners may go through while in Paris.
KRYSTAL: Some of the things were very real for me. Such as the boulangerie always being mean to me. People smoking and Americans being too excited and happy around French people. Also, Emily’s boss who was in competition with her for a man with who she had already slept all felt like things that could truly happen here or I have seen happen. Also, the Au Pair friend who seems to be running away from her family and problems caring for rich children in Paris is also something I have seen commonly here.
Q3- What do you think needs to change in season two?
ERIN: I’m not convinced season two should happen. But honestly, given the pandemic and my yearning for giggling about bad stereotypes of USAmericans and the French (which do sometimes have a point, such as the “this meat isn’t cooked” scene), I’ll likely watch it regardless. Some character development would be nice.
LUCILE: Honestly, nothing! I find the show entertaining as it is, especially as a Parisian. I don’t think the show was trying to be “true to life” in season 1, and I hope they don’t change their tone in season 2. Everyone around me watched it because it was silly and entertaining! It’s not the only show/movie about France/Paris, so I think if people want a “real” Parisian experience, there are plenty of alternatives.
KRYSTAL: I don’t think anything needs to change, it’s just a fun show.
Q4- Do you think Emily’s outfits were on point or a total miss?
ERIN: She dresses like a post-Coachella supermodel. So I guess they match her personality? Certainly not something most travelling USAmericans would wear, and definitely not practical for Paris. Some outfits were admittedly pretty cute, but I prefer Sylvie’s style. But then I stick out in Paris like a sore thumb, so who am I to judge?
LUCILE: I must say I did not love most of her outfits. In my eyes, some of them were fun, a few were bold, and the rest was awful. But to each his own I guess!
KRYSTAL: I am not someone who is really into fashion, but more so comfortable because of my outdoor photography work and being on my feet all day, photographing people all over the city. For me, Emily’s outfits were fun and colourful and I enjoyed seeing what she would come up with next.
Q5- Will you watch season two?
ERIN: Sure will! Despite my criticism, I still had fun watching the series and hope Emily can develop into a kinder and more well-rounded person.
LUCILE: Absolutely! As soon as it comes, especially if we are still confined by then.
KRYSTAL: Probably not, I am trying to get away from the TV and social media and more into books and online courses.
What do you think? Write a comment below or DM me!
Image credit: © STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX