Written by Julia Goralska
Emily in Paris, one of Netflix’s new shows, released early October has sparked criticism and debate. Directed by Darren Star, creator of the iconic Sex and The City, there’s a lot to discuss about the similarities between these two shows and French criticism round on Emily in Paris linked to misrepresentative of French culture. Even Lucas Bravo (Gabriel) has commented on the critiques of the show from French critics!
Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) is an American, ambitious, full of energy, but clueless girl moving to Paris from Chicago, to work for a year as a marketing specialist in the fashion company – Savoir. Although she doesn’t know a single word in French, Emily’s very enthusiastic and excited about starting her new adventure in Paris, the city of lovers. Her new French life turns out to be filled with lots of work, new friendships and affairs.
There are lots of plotlines in Emily in Paris that seem to be replicated from Sex and the City. Starting from the concept of an American girl going to Paris; Sex and the City’s Carrie hoping to find something new and exciting in Paris, while Emily begins a new life in France due to her job. This and Sylvie’s character (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) being very similar to the character of Enid (Candice Patricia Berge) from Vogue. Even to a tulle skirt inspired by Carrie’s tutu.
A big part of Emily’s French adventure is her romance with Lucas Bravo, also mimicking Carrie’s romances with Big and Aiden. Not only that but, both, Carrie and Emily experience a Fashion Week faux pas, Carrie tripping while walking down the runway and Emily getting sprayed with paint. Those who have watched Sex and the City, do you remember Carrie hooking up with a really young guy? How about Emily sleeping with Camille’s 17 year old brother? What’s more, have you noticed that Emily and Carrie don’t cook?
The French about Emily in Paris
“The berets. The croissants. The baguettes. The hostile waiters. The irascible concierges. The inveterate philanderers. The lovers and the mistresses. Name a cliche about France and the French, you’ll find it in Emily in Paris” 20 Minutes, a French newspaper summarised Emily in Paris.
Sens Critique’s reviewer stated that people who watch the show “will really have to be science fiction fans to enjoy this series, because it seems Parisians can be polite, always speak perfect English, make love for hours on end and only have to go to work if they feel like it”.
As summed up in above reviews coming straight from France, It’s clear to see that French reviewers hate the way that Paris and French people have been portrayed in Emily in Paris. Illustrating French as lazy sexists, which highlight offensive stereotypes about French has been criticized in round terms.
Even Lucas Bravo (definitely one of the most handsome actors on Netflix) playing Gabriel has responded to French criticism.
Gabriel (Lucas Bravo)
In the conversation with Cosmopolitan, Lucas stated that “they’re right, in a way. We’re portraying cliches and we’re portraying one single vision of Paris. Paris is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We have so many ways of thinking, so many different nationalities, so many different neighbourhoods. A lifetime wouldn’t be enough to know everything that’s going on in Paris. It’s an entire world in a city. At some point, if you want to tell a story about Paris, you have to choose an angle. You have to choose a vision. French critics don’t understand the fact that it’s just one vision. They’re like, “Oh, this is not what Paris is.”
Bravo also added: “People want to travel. Reality is so rough these days, and we’ve been going through such a difficult time that I think the show is so light-hearted, it’s so colourful, the fashion, the romance, the traveling. Darren Star’s vision is so colourful and alive and funny. People needed something to just escape.” And personally, I totally agree with Lucas Bravo, I enjoyed the show to the fullest. To me, the easy, predictable storyline is a perfect type of a TV show for a winter evening to be spent with a cup of a hot chocolate. This type of show is something we all need during these difficult pandemic times, a way to shut off our brains and get away from it all, even for a few minutes.
And to people whose hearts have been stolen by Emily in Paris (just like mine’s been) have you heard the latest news from Netflix? Darren Star claimed in a statement to Glamour: “I am thrilled to be returning to Paris for a second season to continue Emily’s adventures in the magical “City of Light”. Do you all know what it means? It’s been officially announced that the show is getting a second season! If you still don’t believe me, read the letter from Emily’s French boss, Sylvie Grateau (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) to her American boss, Madeline Wheeler (Kate Walsh) above.
Julia Goralska is a third-year Management and Spanish language student at the University of Leicester and also a founder of UoL’s British Royal Family Society.