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Relationship 101 From Emily in Paris

Emily in Paris, starring the widely adored actress Lily Collins, recently premiered on Netflix. The show follows protagonist Emily Cooper, a marketing executive who experiences the dream of a lifetime: relocating from a company in Chicago to Paris! She moves to the dazzling City of Love and brings her opinionated American perspective with her.

The show has inevitably stirred up controversy, though, as the passion and excitement Emily experiences don’t quite reflect the love lives – or even the mundane daily lives – of real Parisians in the slightest. But hey, the show is ultimately a guilty pleasure that allows viewers to be part of the romanticized version of Paris we non-Parisians dream about. Critics have commented on the clichés and stereotypes the show plays into as well as the unrealistic portrayal of social media. However, despite the stereotypical and somewhat superficial nature of the show, it’s undeniably addictive, and I’d say we can learn a thing or two about relationships from Emily. 

The producer, Darren Star, who has also produced popular classics like Sex and the City, Bevery Hills, 90210, and Younger, presents Emily as an ambitious, self-sufficient, and opinionated young woman trying to find her way in the world. She dives head-first into every situation, which leads to both triumphs and failures in her dating life and career. What young woman can’t relate to her complicated, yet rewarding adventures? 

The show begins with Emily in a seemingly steady and long-term relationship with her boyfriend in Chicago. They appear to be a reasonably content couple. However, when Emily gets word of her opportunity to live in Paris, her boyfriend is unsupportive and complains that he is unable to be in a long-distance relationship simply because it’s too hard! Many viewers, including myself, found this boyfriend character simple-minded and, overall, a waste of Emily’s time. Real relationships require effort and compromise, yet he never even attempts to make their relationship work and jumps ship the second it gets complicated. 

What can we learn from Emily?

Many young women face situations similar to hers – especially college students who are in complicated long-distance or long-term relationships. Once Emily leaves Chicago, the only place she’s ever known, she and her boyfriend break up, and she moves on to the bigger and better life that awaits her in Paris. Though her deciding factor was much more theatrical than one may experience in real life, maybe such opportunities can serve as a litmus test to see if one’s current relationship can really be a steady, healthy source of happiness. I stand by Emily’s lesson that we women must focus on ourselves and our own goals to avoid being blinded by a consuming or dysfunctional relationship. While relationships can be fun and exciting, it’s imperative to focus on yourself without letting a significant other hold you back. As young women, if our partners don’t completely support our academic or career-related decisions, then it’s definitely time to take a step back, reflect, and reassess our values and goals – and, most importantly, our relationships. 

Emily in Paris is a testament to the idea that love finds you when you’re not looking for it. Once Emily moves on from her complicated break-up, she immerses herself in Parisian culture and gradually develops a rewarding work life. She experiences new types of love and relationships in her beautiful, dreamy new life and discovers a world of endless possibilities (and complications), alongside genuine career fulfillment. This addictive, binge-worthy show captures the complicated yet enchanting dating experiences that Emily has as she struggles to find her place in the world. We, as lovers, as dreamers, and as motivated young women, can all learn a thing or two from Emily.