While Americans and Brits binge-watched Emily In Paris with aplomb, French women took to a myriad of media platforms to rebuke the perpetuation of stereotypes the show relies on.
By Juno Kelly.
Expectations were high for Emily in Paris, the inaugural streaming venture by Darren Star, the mind behind Sex and the City, Beverly Hills 90210, and Melrose Place, which debuted on Netflix. However, it quickly became apparent that the witty commentary on single life that made SATC, and soapy melodrama of Melrose Place were a far cry from the adolescent charm of Emily in Paris, which runs almost exclusively on Americans’ polemic perceptions of the French.
Upon release, the show amassed a colossal amount of publicity. While Americans and Brits binge-watched with aplomb, French women took to a plethora of media platforms – from the prolific to the obscure – to debunk the perpetuation of stereotypes that the show arguably relies on. One critic described it as featuring “stretched clichés and general inaccuracies, giving a distorted image of a France I don’t recognize,” while another scathingly critiques in a “letter to Emily,” “the manner in which you proceed to shove your “puritanical” American guidelines down French throats is just nauseating.”
However, despite the French’s understandable armored response to an American writer disrobing their culture, the program has cultivated a loyal fanbase. Emily’s young American doe-eyes can be endearing, and, for the plethora of cynics out there, the undressing of her (sometimes twee) American mannerisms, satisfying. At its best, the show serves as a feel-good, COVID-free, opulent fantasy – something most of us are, at present, deficient in to the point of malnutrition.
As the old age cliché goes, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” an idiom that certainly rings true for Emily In Paris, as production begins for the show’s second season. Although the France-hating-Americans angle is embroidered for comic purposes (we have to give Star leeway for poetic license), any American (or Brit), who has spent a substantial amount of time in the French capital (principally those on business pertaining to fashion), will tell you, it’s not entirely fictional. Having said that, neither are the American archetypes disseminated by Emily. Could her costuming be more (unironically) kitsch?