Emily In Paris follows the (mis)adventures of Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) as she juggles her new dream job, frosty colleagues, new friends and romantic possibilities in the City of Lights.
It’s France vs America
If Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada had a fashionable but bumbling child, it would be Emily In Paris. The protagonist Emily, a marketing executive, is clearly influenced by the Carrie Bradshaw and Andrea ‘How Do You Spell Gabbana’ Sachs from the aforementioned series and movie respectively. She’s bright, ebullient, quick thinking, eager to please and as American as apple pie. Emily ends up taking her boss Madeline’s (Kate Walsh) place, when the latter discovers an unexpected pregnancy, and lands in Paris to be the “American point of view” at Savoir, the luxury marketing firm acquired by her company.
Right off the bat, her French colleagues detest her and make no bones about it. She’s too bubbly, loud and doesn’t speak French (sacrilege). Emily, on her part, is determined to get them to like her and uses just about every trick in her arsenal to achieve that.
Her experience of Paris ticks every stereotype Americans have when it comes to France. Her colleagues are lazy, her boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) smokes cigarettes for lunch, the men around her have a non-vanilla view about sex and love, women dress in couture to take their dogs for a walk, people in cafes casually love discussing Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and practically every person she encounters is disdainful of American culture. If the point of the series was to mock the French, then it’s successful. But in the process, the makers expose how insular Americans are. As Sylvie points out, Emily arrives in Paris, intent on making her mark without bothering to learn French because she feels her charm and American work ethics will tide her through. Emily starts out likeable – she’s pretty, perky, feminist, smart and ambitious. But as the series progresses, she evolves into a blundering, tactless, tone-deaf outsider who tackles professional problems of the week that her colleagues can’t in a manner that is supposed to make you sit up and applaud her creativity but just makes you roll your eyes.
A visual orgasm
The show gets better when you stop trying to make sense of it and just look at it. Paris looks dreamy. The message of this show may not be on point but the aesthetics definitely are. Oscar-winner Patricia Field, renowned for her designs in Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty slams it out of the park with her outfits. From Emily’s Instagrammable wardrobe to Sylvie’s chic outfits and everyone else in between, we just know those designs are going to end up on Pinterest boards across the world.
Packed with punchy performances
Emily is a confusing character simply because she can’t decide what she’s going to be, but Collins puts her comedic timing and doe eyes to good use and does a pretty good job juggling all that confusion. Sylvie is clearly modelled on the inimitable Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada but her character isn’t nearly as well-developed or well-written. Even then, Leroy-Beaulieu acts circles around Collins as the autocratic head of Savoir with her quips and repartees. The MVP of this show is easily Emily’s friend Mindy Chen (Ashely Park), a Chinese heiress who works as a nanny in Paris. She’s hilarious, witty, charming and has an engaging backstory. Frankly, we’d rather watch a show called ‘Mindy in Paris’.
WATCH OR NOT
This comedy-drama is as light, fluffy and forgettable as mediocre soufflé.
Creator: Darren Star
Cast: Lily Collins, Ashley Park, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Kate Walsh, Lucas Bravo, Camille Razat, William Abadie, Samuel Arnold, Charles Martins
Streaming on: Netflix