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REVIEW: Emily in Paris (2020)

Image courtesy of Variety

Due to the various snippets of reviews I’ve read for Netflix’s new show Emily in Paris (2020), it is safe to say I was expecting the bare minimum. It is also safe to say that I received the bare minimum. As you look back on the Parisian journey, you will find it hard to remember anything that was at all memorable or of moral value. Despite this, you might find yourself instantly clicking the next episode button. What has made this show so ‘watchable’? 

Emily in Paris follows American girl, Emily (Lily Collins), as she embarks on a new job in Paris as the head of social media at a French marketing firm. However, there is only one issue, she speaks zero French. Emily has to deal with difficult coworkers and the cultural differences that come with moving to another country. In spite of its lackluster story, this show is an easy watch and allows you to live vicariously through Emily’s glamorous life. It was pleasing to see this effortlessly gorgeous girl swan around Paris, taking snaps of every croissant she came across. 

In spite of its dreamlike setting, you can’t help but feel that the story for this show was written by an 11 year old in a creative writing club. The show uses that all familiar rubric of build-up, climax and solution that we are taught about in primary school. All of the problems that Emily faces seem so trivial and are overcome within the next five minutes of the show. As soon one of Emily’s potential investors backs out of a deal, the next second she has somehow managed to win them back. Nothing really bad happens to her, making this show completely unbelievable and detached from reality. In addition, it seems too unrealistic that every single French man that comes into contact with Emily, instantly falls in love with her, whether it’s those she lives with, those she works with or just someone she encountered in the street. This is highly improbable considering her lack of French knowledge and ignorant personality. These aspects all combine to create an inauthentic show with delusional characters.

Furthermore, you may find yourself cringing at some of the lines these actors were forced to say, due to their problematic nature, such as some of the very stereotypical assumptions that Emily makes. This show seems to revolve around the stereotype that all French people are rude to those around them. Although, if I had to work with Emily, I can’t say that I would be overly welcoming. Luc (Bruno Gouery) was correct in saying that Emily was arrogant for taking a job in France without knowing the language. In reality, the job would have gone to someone else. One particularly uncomfortable moment to watch was Emily with her American friend, Judith Robinson (Faith Prince), joking about how the French pronounce their names.

Now onto the plethorough of problematic and ignorant characters. The apparent ‘heartthrob’ of Emily in Paris, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), is one of the worst characters ever written. All of his actions are questionable. From the moment Emily arrives, he flirts with her and leads her on, even though he has a girlfriend. Immediately, this is a huge red flag. After their long anticipated first kiss, Gabriel somehow manages to manipulate Emily into thinking that it was her fault for him cheating on Camille (Camille Razat). His excuses sound like he’s trying to ‘mansplain’ love and relationships to Emily and belittles her. Even though he is clearly infatuated with Emily, he cannot seem to break up with Camille. The reason for why this is, is never explained and you will probably remain confused as to why he couldn’t do us all a favour and leave Camille. Camille is possibly one of the only characters you will be able to stomach. Considering Camille was one of the only people that could look past Emily’s ignorance, most other characters treated her incredibly poorly. As for Luc, it is difficult to tell  what the aim for his character was. Is he genuinely kind to Emily, sexist or just another token French stereotype? Your opinion of his character is likely to change many times throughout the show. Some of the things he says to Emily come across as controversial and it’s hard to see where his intentions lie. 

Another striking aspect of the show was its lack of diversity. Julien (Samuel Arnold) and Mindy (Ashley Park) appear to have been thrown into the show in order to tick the diversity box. Mindy’s storyline felt rushed and irrelevant. Her backstory of how she ended up in Paris felt like it had been thrown together at the last minute, with such childish reasons as to why she left her home country of China. It is saddening to see a huge Broadway star,  such as Park, being recognised solely for a character in a mediocre show. As for Julien, they didn’t even bother to give him a storyline. He was put into the show just to fill in some gaps. Whilst these characters could have been great additions to the story as a whole, due to their poor development, they just fade into the background.

Overall, Emily in Paris falls flat. Whilst being a visually pleasing show, the annoying and often problematic characters and unimaginative storylines make this show a bland but amiable watch. As a second season has already been confirmed, it looks like I will have some more procrastination material and a lot more opinions to share with you about the Parisian dream… or nightmare, depending on how you view it. 

Available on Netflix

By Amy Britton