‘Emily In Paris’ *Isn't* Super Relatable

Even before Emily in Paris came out, I was already getting DMs of the trailer from my friends that knew about my Paris study abroad trip. 

“Vik! You have to watch this!” 

I mistakenly decided to binge it during my weekend at home — with my mom — because I thought it was teen show like Gossip Girl. When the vibrator came out, I truly wished I had never heard about the show in the first place. 

Alas, we surged on, and by the end of the weekend, we were sitting on the couch cursing Netflix for only giving us one season. 

Emily in Paris was good. It was funny, the acting was great and the set was not disappointing. I was able to understand her frustration with the language barrier (but that is a given when you visit a country with a language that differs from your home country), and I’m pretty sure my outfits were just as bad as hers. I even made the same effort to send back an uncooked steak, except the chef wasn’t a forgiving and gorgeous downstairs neighbor. 

Emily’s evil boss Sylvie had a frightening resemblance to my host mom, and I shuddered from the irritation and indifference that Emily faced. Unfortunately, after four months of my study abroad in Paris, I wasn’t quite as successful as Emily. But I will argue that my Instagram pics were on par. 

My group chat of friends from study abroad all heard about Emily in Paris, too. While some of my friends shared my opinion, others definitely didn’t.

“I thought it was really accurate,” my friend Flavia from Brazil said. “When you don’t speak French, they’re super rude.” 

“I made everyone here watch, we’re all obsessed,” replied Maria Theresa, also from Brazil. 

Wassim disagreed, “I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes.” 

While the group chat attacked Wassim for “having no taste,” I thought about why he didn’t appreciate the new, hot show. 

And then it came to me: It wasn’t relatable to him. 

Emily in Paris was curated for every middle-class skinny girl that had dreams of living in Paris. Whether those dreams came true or not, the show capitalized on providing the highly sought experience of the city — but only in a very privileged way. 

Wassim didn’t have the same experience in Paris as Emily, or frankly, as me. He didn’t get invited to private parties and random strangers didn’t eagerly befriend him on the street. 

Yes, Emily faced adversity in her own ways, but her life wasn’t reflective of anyone who wasn’t young, straight and white. 

When you’re a white, middle-class girl in Paris, you fit in. You look like every model and student in the prestigious arrondissements. Everyone else is pushed to the city’s physical and social outskirts — separated by an unspoken racial divide. 

That’s why Emily in Paris is problematic; it does nothing more than fulfill the fantasies of those who already had them.  

Not only did Netflix fail to show us diversity, but it also endorsed offensive stereotypes and exhausted clichés. A French critic for The Guardian called the show “a Wikipedia version of French life” that “whitewashed the diverse streets of Paris.” 

Although I loved this show, I have to agree. The concept of an “Emily” working at a marketing firm is nothing new. I think we all expected Netflix to have creativity beyond a love-triangle and one gay best friend. Netflix could do better. The company has the resources to shed some light on the stories that aren’t basic; I would’ve loved to see a comedy that showed the beautiful un-cliched version of Paris through the eyes of a true foreigner. 

Sometimes it feels good to give in to the feel-good and funny shows. But it’s important to remember that they’re not harmless. Emily in Paris reinforces the narrative that Paris dream is only attainable to the young, white and hot. My Paris experience didn’t deserve another show, no matter how good it felt to relive it all. 

Check out this funny parody video here.