You show me a cheesy movie that takes place in Paris, and I’ll watch it for the sake of imagining an overly romanticized life filled with fresh baguettes and beautiful balcony views. Maybe it’ll have an underdeveloped plot-line. Maybe the characters fall in love in the same way, encounter the same problems and then somehow end up together. But, you know, it’s PARIS. I can’t say no to something that lets me escape to the magical city of lights.
However, when it came to “Emily in Paris,” I have to say no. I could barely finish the first episode despite my high hopes for this show. With the same creator as “Sex in the City” and the costume designer of “The Devil Wears Prada,” I had anticipated the first episode to be filled with glamorous outfits, striking characters and a fabulous setting. Instead, I was given outfits that looked cheap and overdone, an entirely dislikable protagonist and a setting that felt more like a movie set than anything else. As much as I wanted to see the best in “Emily in Paris,” I can’t see myself finishing the season. That’s not to say that some people might enjoy watching it. If you think “The Kissing Booth” is a cinematic masterpiece, maybe you’ll enjoy it. Maybe you’ll enjoy it if you hate the French and love all things American. Maybe this show will fill that cheesy Netflix romance hole in your life.
For me, however, it was much harder to find good things about this. For one, the main character, Emily, is entirely dislikeable. She is the epitome of an ignorant American wandering the streets of Paris seeking the perfect background for an Instagram photo, paying little attention to the culture and traditions of her new setting. Landing a job as a consultant for a French company, she imposes her opinion with little regard to the ways of the French, attempting to force her coworkers to adopt a more “American” point of view. She doesn’t speak French, expecting everyone around her to understand English. Apart from a few painful “tres” thrown into her sentences, Emily does little to adapt and appreciate the culture around her.
There are so many jabs at the French in the first episode alone. The French are rude. The French never show up on time. The French don’t work hard enough. For a show that takes place in Paris, you would expect a little more respect paid towards its people and culture. Instead, it feels like a spiteful tourist who spent a few days in France made this show based on that short experience as an outsider judging all things French. The show overall feels inauthentic and painfully American — completely ignorant, terribly one-dimensional and entirely uncultured.
Not to mention, the lack of diversity! We are introduced to only two characters of color, both of which are terribly flat characters written as tropes. Mindy, Emily’s new friend in Paris who was originally from Singapore, is given so many lines that jab at the Chinese. But, it’s okay because it comes from an Asian character, right? Julien, Emily’s coworker, is the only other POC character. His character, a gay Black man, is written to be so painfully flat, playing into the trope that all gay men are just “sassy.” I found myself so uncomfortable watching how these characters were presented in the first episode. I don’t think it’s enough to have a few minority characters; they need to be presented as full, developed characters. Maybe this is just a reflection of how the show, in general, is pretty one-dimensional. I mean, the backgrounds of scenes remind me of Hallmark movie sets that are so clearly Hallmark movie sets — the fake flowers, the buildings that are just walls and the extras in the background trying to hide that they know a camera is on them. To make things worse, add this to an uncompelling storyline with uncompelling characters.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think I’ve had enough of “Emily in Paris.” I should give it the benefit of the doubt that it’ll develop into something more worthy of my time over the course of the season. However, I don’t think I want to stick around to see if it does.