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‘Emily in Paris’ fulfills the perfect French fantasy

Carole Bethuel | Netflix

Imagine walking through the Parisian cobblestone streets in your matching Chanel jacket and cloche hat. You stop by the nearest patisserie and pick up a pain au chocolat and take a selfie. The heels of your Christian Louboutin’s clack as you pass by the Eiffel Tower on your way to work. You cannot help but wonder, is this just real life or is it just a chic fantasy? Well, this is really life for Emily Cooper, the main character in Netflix’s newest series, Emily in Paris.

Emily in Paris, created by Darren Star, the mastermind of the 1999 hit TV series Sex and the City, and executively produced by Lily Collins, is about a girl named Emily, a motivated and spunky twenty-something year old from Chicago. She ends up getting a job promotion at Savior, a prestigious marketing firm in Paris, after her boss is not able to go. In Paris, she finds herself having to prove that she is the right fit for the firm while dealing with her iffy co-workers Luc, played by Bruno Gouery, and Julien, played by Samuel Arnold, and her uptight boss Sylvie, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu. The pièce de résistance of the show has to be the awkward love triangle between Emily and her très magnifique chef neighbor, Gabriel, Lucas Bravo, and his girlfriend Camille, Camille Razat.

Collins’ portrayal of Emily Cooper is phenomenal. She easily captivates the viewer with her expressions of emotions and the cheeriness she adds to the overall character. It’s easy to root for Emily’s success at Savoir due to Collins’ acting. The real superstar of the show, sadly not the hot chef neighbor who makes memorable omelets out of a cast iron skillet, is Mindy Chen, Emily’s first real friend in Paris. Ashley Park’s portrayal of Mindy adds a fun flare to the show and some of Emily’s relationships. Mindy comes off as the friend who is there whenever you need someone, whether it be to dish about that kiss you shouldn’t have had with someone or the advice you need after entangling yourself into a love triangle. Mindy is the friend everyone should strive to be. She also throws in some of the show’s wittiest lines, such as, “She would love to try your meat” and “I’d bone appétit him.”

The show excels in terms of escapism. It’s October 2020, and we have been stuck in quarantine for about seven months. The sense of uncertainty and dread still lingers around us all like an ugly sweater that Patricia Field herself would not approve of. We are all looking for a sense of escape, something easy to watch and a temporary distraction, which is precisely what this show does. Regardless of what the show does right, it does lack in many departments. For starters, where is the representation? Everyone is white with the exception of Mindy who is Chinese and Julien who is Black. On top of that, the plot of the show is just unrealistic. The show works well as a form of escapism but, lets sort this out: An American twenty-something-year-old who cannot speak a word of French is given a promotion to work as a social media manager for a French marketing firm, even though she only has about 48 followers and gets a swanky apartment with a ridiculously good-looking neighbor?

Patricia Field, known as the costume designer who created all those iconic looks in Star’s 1999 hit Sex and the City, brought her fashion skills to Emily in Paris. Some of the looks created for Emily were quite questionable, such as the mix of flashy prints and monochromatic looks. It felt like every other character was given a chic wardrobe while Emily was given a $200 gift voucher to the nearest Rainbow store. The idea that just because you own couture does not mean that you can dress still stands.

Emily in Paris seems to be today’s version of shows like The Carrie Diaries, Jane by Design and Sex and the City. These shows all have a focus on fashion and share the troupe of women trying to become successful in an industry that they are passionate about.

While it may be hard to relate to Emily and her fantastical journey in any way, the show makes it easy to say au revoir to our reality and bonjour to Emily’s life in Paris.

The show excels in what it wants to be, and that is a form of escapism. I found myself constantly rooting for Emily after the constant attempts to break her by her boss and co-workers. I wanted her to dominate Paris and walk those cobblestone streets like they were created specifically for her to strut on.

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  • S

    SamOct 14, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Okay an article and opinion to offer another critical critique to the show:
    * Token ethnic friends: how pop culture taught me I was support, not the lead
    Zoya Patel
    *** She only calls on Mindy when she’s in trouble and never checks in with her.
    *Emily’s entitlement from American Excellence, which was RIGHTFULLY called out in episode 2 by Sylvie
    While its important for viewers to have pieces of art that offer an escape, i implore you to question what is holding media back to move past troupes over saturated in our content.