"I Like Paris, But I’m Not Really Sure Paris Likes Me." - Emily Cooper
Admittedly I might be slightly late to the game, but I can’t help but offer my own two cents worth on the short lived phenomenon that was Emily in Paris. The 10 episode mini-series set social tweets a flutter with little praise, but more often than not heated discussion and simultaneously generated criticism from socialites, influencers, those that work in the fashion industry and Parisian locals. What appeared to be at face value a blissfully innocent, teen chick lit-esque series quickly morphed into an offensive social commentary. But if we all just take a deep breath and remove the hyper critical lens that many of us seem so inclined to use at present, perhaps we can pull back the curtain to reveal a seemingly simple yet sweet classic rom com drama.
My curiosity was piqued when I heard that Darren Star had taken it upon himself to produce another series during this tumultuous year. Surely if the same man behind the critically acclaimed Sex and the City — a show I hate to say I have still yet to finish — and 90210, was the conjurer behind such a production, it would naturally result in raptures of joyous celebration. I started the first episode tentatively and found myself swallowing up the proceeding nine earnestly and without shame. The plot line was delightfully preposterous: a dizzy social media marketeer, the embodiment of the perceived millennial generation, is blessed with the opportunity to further her career prospects in the glittering city of Paris at a sister agency of the original American counterpart. What could possibly go wrong? She arrives perfectly manicured with a sparkling grin and go-getter americaine attitude, radiating such pure positivity you can’t help but crumble at its infectiousness. And so ensues a series of ridiculous and somewhat saucy escapades of this reborn American in Paris symbol. No comparison of course to the 1928 orchestral comedy, but still a pleasant watch nonetheless.
Many have taken it upon themselves to expertly single out “obvious” problems in the show but I do wonder if this is just a knee jerk reaction of a select group seeking out offense in a carefree comedy. Emily In Paris thus becomes a part of a wider, burgeoning issue in regard to comedic content and what is no longer accepted in the eyes of the wider public due to stringent markers of that old adage: political correctness. But in this instance I must defend Emily in Paris. It paints a cliched picture of the city and its inhabitants, expertly arranging all of those stereotypes we have grown familiar with, into one heady and outrageous bouquet of hedonism, sexism, provocateurs and pain au chocolats. It is the foundations of these cliches that arguably set the stage for such a comical fete. Allow me to reference Sex and the City once again - here we have an example of an equally, if not more, scandalous spectacle and despite its crazy, sex-crazed glory it firmly entrenched itself as a pop culture symbol of the ages. At its core, far far worse when compared to its young, pink cheeked counterpart embodied by the fun loving and ever so slightly misguided, Emily Cooper.
Emily in Paris is certainly ‘fluffy’ in content, but it does possess undeniable merits. The characters are surprisingly multi-faceted and, as much as we may hate to admit, utterly human. From those that work at the agency, to her new band of companions and to her godly, herculean neighbour - yes ladies, you may swoon whether you are a fan of the show or not - they all possess traits you will come to both love and despise. The show also brings to life classic Parisian tableaux, with beauteous representations of recognised locations and unfamiliar hidden gems. The ‘boulangerie moderne’ alone left me hungry for more. Alongside this, need I mention the enviable haute couture wardrobe of all the women combined, of which I could only pine for and take inspiration from. All of these elements combined with the soft biting humour from the likes of Sylvie, Antoine, Julien and Luc, paralleled against the heartwarming bienvenu from Mindy, Camille and Gabriel, make for an entertaining, binge worthy experience.
Some of you may read this and leave sceptical or even shaken with agitation at how I could possibly support such a debacle of a Netflix debut. But hear me out. The real reasoning behind the basic brilliance of Emily in Paris is how it came at a time when many of us were searching for the ultimate escape. By making its premier at the height of the lockdown period, we were graced with a lighthearted and silly comedy. The jubilant brightness of a Parisian landscape that only exists in our dreams, chic high-end clothing and a series of mishaps and exploration, enabled viewers to escape the confines of set daily routines. A chance I embraced gladly and so proceeded to guiltlessly melt into each episode, face mask on and glass of vino at hand, in true shameless ringarde fashion. After all, “A little 'bonjour' goes a long way.”
Until next time, salut