Rachel Stern ‘21 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
While Emily in Paris’s Carrie Bradshaw-esque protagonist’s name is Emily, it should be Karen. The new Netflix show from Sex and the City creator Darren Star, about a young American woman who goes to Paris to “bring an American viewpoint” to a French luxury marketing firm’s social media. The show tries to bring the charm in a rosey-tinted Paris with more handsome French guys than you can throw a bag of baguettes at, but the end product is cringeworthy.
Emily Cooper, the main protagonist played by Lily Collins tries to be the blithe American spirit in the Old World, teaching the French how to do things better, but she is just the Ugly American trope with better eyebrows. For those who don’t know, the Ugly American is a stereotype that’s usually tourist-oriented. They are loud, arrogant, and ignorant, always thinking that their way, the American way is better, even when they’re not in America.
Emily does not speak a word of French, and even with the suspension of disbelief, it’s still hard to believe that anyone could get an important job in Paris without knowing even basic French. The way she is written is remarkably tone-deaf, always insulting French people for doing things the French way in Paris, but still being presented like she’s charming for doing so. It is difficult to not want to bash your head in after hearing her privileged and unintelligent remarks on how French people are weird because they do things differently from Americans.
“The French are masters of social media,” says the stuffy Frenchman Luc. “True. But Americans invented it,” replies the not-so-lightly smug Emily. Other various crimes against Emily’s American sensibilities include writing the date in a day/month/year format, or perceiving a steak in a French restaurant was made wrong because it was medium rare and not shoe leather-adjacent. “The chef tells me the steak is correct,” says the French waiter with the patience of a saint. “Uh, well, correct for him, but not correct for me.”
French critics are not a fan of this show, and you can’t really blame them. It is rather insulting to insinuate that all French people are cheating and rude horndogs that Emily has no problem copulating with. Morals and ethics don’t mean a thing in love, even when she has a boyfriend, and Main Hot French Guy Number One (Gabriel, played by Lucas Bravo) has a girlfriend. It’s yet another show about how Paris is gorgeous and romantic, but only on a superficial level. As a TV show, it’s cotton candy. That’s the appeal to those who don’t really want to think while watching, only to look at pretty people, in somewhat pretty if not gaudy clothes. If you get enjoyment out of this, your creativity is admired, but Netflix should have said “au revoir,” from the beginning.