By Esther Morales
A show with travel, fashion, comedy and romance — what’s not to love, right? Netflix released its newest comedy-drama “Emily in Paris” on Oct. 2, and it was met with indifference from viewers who couldn’t tell if they binged it out of love or hate.
The series follows Emily (Lily Collins), a young, Chicago-based marketing executive, who takes a job opportunity to provide an American perspective to a French luxury marketing firm, as a replacement to her boss who unexpectedly becomes pregnant.
If you’ve reached the end of “Emily in Paris” you might be in the same boat as me. Last week I sat down after a long day of Zoom calls and plowed through the ten 25-minute episodes easily in one sitting, but found myself confused when the last credits rolled. “Emily In Paris” was honestly just O.K. So why did I dedicate my whole night to it when I could have watched something that wasn’t as shallow?
The show serves up characters and plotlines similar to the cult classics “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sex and the City.” There’s the typical love-hate relationship between Emily and her critical boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), a working girl navigating her career and love life in the large city of Paris, and a slew of different men she meets along the way.
By no means is the character of Emily relatable to the average modern-day Millennial or Gen Z adolescent. She falls into the cliché female trope who can’t help but meddle in situations she knows she shouldn’t, but in the end, things magically work themselves out. She is just quirky enough, cheeky enough and beautiful enough to catch the attention of any man she has the chance to talk to.
This made me feel a bit conflicted. It’s hard not to interpret the show’s idea that if you’re a white, young, pretty girl in the 21st century you can get whatever you want, even in a foreign place where you don’t speak the language. France is one of the most romanticized countries in the world, but past that, I hoped television had evolved beyond these one-dimensional lead characters.
So yes, while there are some fundamental flaws, the show was so unrealistic that it’s actually a little escape from the harsh realities of 2020 — which we all need now and then. There aren’t any high-risk situations that fool the audience into thinking that her career is really on the line, because it wouldn’t make sense to the overarching story.
We have the loveable supporting characters like Emily’s coworkers, Luc (Bruno Gouery) and Julien (Samuel Arnold), a hilarious and gossip-hungry pair. Not to mention, Emily has her dream job at age 22 in an incredible city and a dreamy downstairs neighbor you’ll fall for by episode two.
“Emily in Paris” isn’t a unique show. It takes bits and pieces from the comedy-dramas we hold dear and mixes it with the fantasies of a young woman’s hope for her future. It addresses sexism and feminism briefly within a campaign the firm is running, but don’t expect the dialogue to be groundbreaking — this isn’t that kind of show. The simplicity of it all just may be the reason people can’t stop watching. The lack of substance doesn’t make it a bad show, since it’s a little over four-hour break from life some didn’t know they needed.