The second season of “Emily in Paris” was scrapped late last month, following a polarized response to the first season and two controversial nominations at last year’s Golden Globes. The show was widely criticized for its stereotypical depiction of French writing, cliché and a vapid protagonist titled “Mary Sue”. Despite these criticisms, “Emily in Paris” remains one of the most popular shows on Netflix and has now been renewed for a third and fourth season. Knowing the split response to the show, I sat down and watched it all in about four days.
I don’t want to dither in this review. The show is not good. I have 11 minutes in the first episode and I had to reevaluate if I wanted to continue. Emily Cooper is moving to France to be an “American prospect” at an existing Parisian business that caters to luxury clients, although she doesn’t speak French or try to engage with the language or culture at any title. The public is supposed to take pity on her when she is rightly called out for her vanity and pride. We’re supposed to support her as she goes from under 50 to over 1,000 Instagram followers in a week. We’re meant to marvel at his “fresh” marketing ideas, which are more filled with quirkiness than substance. In short: “Emily in Paris” is a show about a fashionable American influencer working in a marketing company in Paris, written by people who obviously know nothing about fashion, millennials, social media, marketing or to France.
For being a “fashion-forward” pseudo-socialite, Emily’s outfits are horrible. Looks like she dressed up for a casual rave in the dark. She looks like an extra from Disney Channel’s 2010 show “Shake It Up.” She looks like a colorblindness test. She looks like an alien civilization that watched an Audrey Hepburn movie in black and white and then tried to come up with the colors and patterns of the clothes. She does the costumes in “Euphoria” look boring. Some of her outfits are so bad they lower my standards for what I consider good fashion. I’d call it camp, but she’s the most boring straight white woman in the world and she doesn’t challenge anything. It is an insult to what camp is and what it stands for.
Unlike other sitcoms with unlikable or morally ambiguous protagonists (see: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “BoJack Horseman,” “Seinfeld”), Emily is never condemned by the show and is meant to be a substitute and a paradigm for the public. She always succeeds in her work. People want to be friends with her for no reason. Every man desires her carnally. There are no repercussions for his horrific deeds. We are supposed to relate to her, to want to be her. She’s left to terrorize Paris unchecked — like a high-heeled Godzilla — and we’re meant to take her side.
With all of this in mind: why, then, is the series so popular? Why are people coming back for the second season? Who is it for ?
The appeal of “Emily in Paris” is simple and effective: it presents “une vie en rose”. Every element of the show capitalizes on escapism. The show seems to take place in a present time, even if it is not ours. There is no pandemic – no masks, no social distancing, no travel restrictions. If you see yourself in Emily, then her clothes, work, and romance give you a more charming, Pinterest-ready alternative to your own life. If, like me, you hate watching the show – even if you curse the protagonist every episode – you still get away with it. The showrunners know that sometimes it’s easier to criticize someone else’s reality than to examine your own. As bad as the show was, I enjoyed watching it and will probably be back for the next two seasons. “Emily in Paris” doesn’t have to be so good it has to be perfectly packaged, and that’s unequivocal.
Emily’s biggest problem is herself. In today’s world, that’s a luxury.
To show: “Emilie in Paris”
Featuring: Lily Collins, Lucas Bravo, Ashley Park
If you want: “Gossip Girl”, “The Mindy Project”, “Sex and the City”
Where to watch: netflix
Clovers: 1 out of 5