Emily from Emily in Paris

Gen Z’s New Sex and the City and the Backlash Lives On

What’s been hot and trending as of recently is Lily Collin’s Netflix debut with Emily in Paris. Is it Gen Z’s new Sex and the City? Or has it completely missed the mark as French critics suggest? 

As a female, I’m often looking for inspo within television and film that hits the mark within the same field of work, fashion, lifestyle that I wish to pursue. Emily in Paris for me was going to hit all of these on the head.

Emily Cooper, played by Lily Collins, exudes this sweet, perfectly rounded woman out in the world. She takes on a big move (something we all hope to do ourselves) from Chicago to the City of Love in order to pursue big career moves. She tackles the corporate world despite the personal struggles associated with her love life, demanding coworkers and crazy bosses, and language barriers. She perfectly resembles the 21st century independent bad-ass we want to see on our screens. These things all add up to create a character we can find ourselves (as young 20-something women who have hopes and dreams) wishing we could be (like cmon, who doesn’t want a neighbor as handsome as Gabrielle and a job that pays enough for you to wear a new Burkin bag every day)

Despite the round-of-applause and excitement of the North American audience, our friends across the pond have had some seriously different opinions on the new show. “Cliche, insulting, idealistic” are all terms that French viewers have shared over how Paris, and the French people, are being depicted. Are we, as American and Canadian viewers, fetishizing and degrading the Parisians? I mean, to be blunt, we probably are. What show have you watched that doesn’t focus on the stereotypes of the cigarettes, handsomely-devil men, baguettes, and berets? It’s no surprise that in 2020, there is a backlash towards an American-written show that takes place outside of America. 

We know shows are built on unrealistic expectations and lives. Emily’s first views of Paris from her cab include some of the most well-known monuments and graffiti that Paris is known for. It’s no different than the montage we see in every romantic-comedy of the girl jetting off to the airport only to be stuck in New York traffic with the love of her life running through the cars after her. How much is there really to be expected? But also, should we let this slide? Has our ignorance gone too far? 

There is definitely a point where we have to acknowledge that not all French people show up late, have disrespect for sexist and gender inequalities, and pick wine and cigarettes over nutritional food choices. We have to know that what we are watching on screen is not an accurate, or even at times respectful, representation of what the city, person, job, etc., is really like. This job seems to always be a responsibility of the viewers, and perhaps maybe it’s time we start to push back against the industry we’re so comfortable with to start watching out for these implications themselves. 

Despite the difference of opinions that have filtrated the reviews of Emily in Paris, I would still give it a solid 8/10. There are some minor character flaws that I found to bug me, but the show depicted desire and jealousy in the same way Sex and the City did that makes me want to watch every season. So I will continue to lust over the clothes and shoes I can’t afford and the job I so badly wish I had while acknowledging that what’s on-screen is not the same as reality.