Netflix’s Emily in Paris was first released in October 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. Many people enjoyed the escapism of the show; a pandemic-free, romantic Parisian world that could whisk them away from reality. But the
show also met harsh criticism, especially from the French, who found the use of stereotypes distasteful and offensive.
Emily in Paris quite literally follows Emily, a bubbly American Marketing Executive played by Lily Collins, as she takes up a job opportunity and fresh start in the French Capital. Playing on the cliché of an American in Paris, it is
energetic, comical and at times just plain cringe.
The beauty of Emily in Paris, however, lies not in its storyline or its Parisian backdrop, but in the ease of watching. The show is binge-worthy, and I can vouch for that first hand. The creator, Darren Star, seems to have the knack for
producing hit shows that you can’t stop watching, including the likes of Sex and the City and 90210.
Perhaps the great shows of the past were noted for their depth and complexity, but Emily in Paris is beautifully simple. The 30-minute episodes can be soaked in with little concentration. The lack of depth provides viewers
with a light-hearted, surface-level pleasure: Just the kind that the ever-busy modern-day audience needs.
Emily in Paris is a visually stimulating show, full of bold-verging-on-garish outfits, cabaret shows, and flashy parties and events. But behind their flamboyant outfits, the characters are fairly flat. They are bundles of stereotypes, lacking any real complexity. Emily seems only to be driven by work, and her actions have no real consequences. Her life is full of faux pas, yet everything works out in the end – like if only life was that easy!
Season one received very mixed reviews. One thing lovers and haters of the show had in common is that they were both incredibly vocal about their stance. Emily in Paris was everywhere; Twitter threads, articles, podcasts, and
YouTube videos hashed out varying opinions on the show. To the shock and dismay of many, it was even nominated for a Golden Globe Award, which caused even more outcry.
Emily in Paris had got people talking, which consequently got more people watching the show. According to Netflix’s numbers, Emily in Paris was a hit and was quickly renewed for season two. The second season was released in December 2021 amid the Omicron surge – just when we needed another escape.
Season two gave the fans even more glitz and glamour. From boat parties on the Seine to the sparkling waters of St Tropez, we were once again whisked away into Emily’s superficial world of Instagram likes and questionable
fashion choices. Perhaps in response to some of the criticism from season one, the French characters were given an ounce more depth and agency in the second season, and Emily is painted slightly less as an imposing American influencer.
But with the new season came more stereotypes; the Brit and the Ukrainian. Ukrainian viewers were quick to complain about the unfair stereotypes used in portraying Petra, a character from Kyiev who shoplifts and is afraid of deportation.
Season two certainly served us with more cringe, and the plot seemed somewhat random. For a show that has been described as a ‘vacation for the mind’, some parts were very hard to watch. Compared to season one, it felt slightly underwhelming. There was too much going on; it was chaotic and a bit confused – seemingly caught between trying to be simplistic and meaningful.
Love it or hate it, Emily in Paris certainly has its moments of entertainment.
Though I felt that season two didn’t quite match up to its first instalment, I still got through all of the episodes in quick succession. The show is fun, fanciful, and different. There’s something about it that people either can’t stand or can’t get enough of. Either way, the creators are doing something right, as Emily in Paris will be returning to our screens for a third season, and I can’t wait to see where they go with it!
Words by: Emma Critchley
Edited by: Simran Nayyar