Emily in a stereotype of Paris

Róisín Cullen

The market for rubbish escapism television has probably increased since we first heard the word ‘lockdown’. The Kardashians are bearable when you view the series as what it is, a clever business venture by Kris Jenner, that started with a leaked sex tape.  However, everyone has their limit and ‘Emily in Paris’ is it. 

While you might choose to tune in for the bright outfits and scenic backgrounds, the inaccuracy and blatant racism are too prevalent to ignore. The whole series is built on stereotypes of French people and, in particular, being cruel and lazy.

Our protagonist, a plucky, young American (Lily Collins) is a marketing executive sent to Paris to show the experts how it’s done. Telling the French that they need to work more and smoke less may be a dangerous enough social experiment, but Emily tries.

Emily arrives with less than Duolingo French with the perfect opportunity to learn from the best and immerse herself in the culture and history that is to be found just outside her unreasonably priced apartment.

She denies this opportunity and prefers instead to alienate those in the workplace who are unable to speak English. Luckily, there is no shortage of handsome neighbours falling over her feet in the vicinity.

Lingerie, free showers, breaks away; Emily’s life on the continent is such a struggle. If Darren Star was to make this series a little bit closer to reality, the episodes might include our marketing executive crying in Carrefour City or being pickpocketed on the Metro.

The social media influencer is quickly informed that cheating is completely acceptable in Paris, the city without morals. Emily is portrayed as an unfairly treated hero, surrounded by unfriendly French people.

Unsurprisingly, French critics haven’t fallen in love with Netflix’s latest addition.

Charles Martin (Première) was appalled by the stereotypical Parisians presented in the show: “They are lazy and never arrive at the office before the end of morning, that they are flirtatious and not really attached to the concept of loyalty, that they are sexist and backward, and of course that they have a questionable relationship with showering.”

Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu plays horrible boss, Sylvie, who may be the real role model of the series. Her cold demeanour may remind viewers of the original cynical ice witch that was Miranda Priestly.

As time goes on, these female bosses may be far more inspiring than their twenty-something-year-old protégées, who eventually throw it all away for love.

While the series may have gained traction for Emily’s overpriced and unrealistic statement pieces, big names in the fashion world were not as easily won over by the American’s charm. When Vogue asked Stéphanie Delphon, cofounder of a Parisian creative agency for her thoughts, she didn’t hold back: “Hum… allergic? Epidemic?”

Even Emily’s heels were highly impractical for walking around the 7th arrondissement. This may remind us of another overpaid, out of touch creation of Darren Star’s- the one and only Carrie Bradshaw.

Sex and the City’ may have aged badly, but one thing seems certain: New York’s finest sex and relationships columnist was a terrible friend.

Somehow, all of her friend’s struggles became a problem to Bradshaw- chemo, abortions, a slipped disc. Carrie slut-shamed Samantha, perhaps the most progressive of the friend group.

Gay friends existed simply to add to Carrie’s exciting cosmopolitan life or to contribute an added slant to one of her pieces.

TV shows age, notions change. Self-serving, pretty protagonists are forever. Stereotyping an entire nation of people isn’t comedy.

Róisín Cullen

Image Credit: Netflix