When I first watched the trailer of Emily In Paris, I was excited. And for two reasons: Darren Star (who created Sex and the City) and Lily Collins. To say I waited for the show with bated breath would be an understatement of the year. But before I jump right in, here's the gist of the show in 50 words: Emily Cooper moves from Chicago to Paris when the organisation she works for acquires a French digital marketing firm. In Paris, her life vastly revolves around her work, making new friends, getting tangled in complicated romantic relations, getting a taste of an influencer life, and yada yada yada!
That's it, guys. That's literally it!
Emily is a go-getter, and her French colleagues find it quite annoying. She is classified as one of those work-obsessed Americans (actually, millennials), so she won't stop thinking about work wherever she is. Whether it's a date or a casual walk in a park — work talk tends to come up, and she is always conjuring ideas to win more clients. Emily often ends up mixing work with pleasure, and for a casual viewer of the show, it becomes pretty predictable to gauge her next move. And that's okay because you don't entirely watch these sorts of shows for thrill or mystery, and you know how things usually pan out, but you still don't have to play it to the silly galleries. Emily's boss, Sylvie, is always hard on her, and you'll often find her pitting against Emily. Although Emily says, we're on the same side. This relationship between them reminds you of The Devil Wears Prada. It's also problematic because for how long are we going to portray that older women envy or look down on younger women? Things are changing IRL; there's a mindset shift — perhaps it's about time older women aren't portrayed this way?
As someone in marketing, I know how ridiculous and painfully tricky it is to fetch 1,000 Instagram followers in a month, but Emily quickly goes from 48 to 2,000 followers in less than a week. For screaming out loud, her profile has only two photos edited using an Instagram filter. Yeah, yeah, I get spontaneity and all that, but bro, screw reality, that's an impossible dream. Although this observation is relatively tiny, it gears you up for bigger muddles. Even as someone who hasn't visited Paris, I know for a reason there's more to the city than its Fashion Week, bread, wine (why do French drink all the time? Wait, there's a breakfast wine? — cliched lines have found an abode here), berets, affairs that don't exactly reek of scandal but it's still all hush-hush. It's like most French people have mistresses or affairs, and their partners are fully aware of it, and it's all good in the hood. There's also a particular scene in the show where she sleeps with her friend's younger brother, and his mum asks Emily if he is a good lover, only before declaring her husband is a great lover, and otherwise, he's pretty useless. Textbook definition of cliche!
Let's talk about men — ah, the men who fall at Emily's feet at the drop of the hat. Everyone's extremely good-looking, mysterious, and in love with Emily, even though they are all in the stage of second glances with her. If a pompous professor of philosophy doesn't woo her, she is flirting with her neighbour, Gabriel, who runs a cafe just across the street. And then there's a client (a nephew of a legendary designer), her friend's teenage brother, who she bumps into during champagne tastings. Apart from being eye candies and lending Emily a helping hand whenever she needs it, these men exist just as pretty tools. No, not the pompous professor, though — him, you want to punch.
In every episode, a problem is bounced at Emily. It could be a brand failing to sell enough champagne to make profits or a designer who refuses to show his collection at the Paris Fashion Week. As you might have guessed, Sylvie blames Emily to fix 'em all. There are other employees, too. I'm just saying. Emily conjures up half-decent ideas and social media strategies to resolve issues and win more clients. Errr, it takes a lot of work. In SATC, even Carrie Bradshaw goes through a lot in her city where she is comfortable as a pie, where she knows everyone and has a pack of friends who know the remaining few that Carrie doesn't. Emily is always so well put-together in a new city where she barely has two friends that I found it strangely suspicious. That, and a bunch of cliched dialogues on hope and ambition that she dispenses to every client — I felt Emily's character was underdeveloped and incomplete. In one episode, she fusses over feminism when a naked model is made to walk across a bridge, with suited men staring at her, for an advertisement. In another episode, she tells a designer how much wearing his creation meant to her, even if it's a tiny accessory. But these are shades that you generally don't see in the other episodes. While there are moments where she shines, she comes across as a woman trying hard to please everyone around her, sort of submissive but also not, and wants to fix everything. I mean, everything.
After saying all this, it would be stupid to say the show was entertaining, but it was. They are all decent actors, alright. The show only demands a little of your attention, and Darren Star does a decent job of portraying Paris's cafes and desolate streets at night. Wait a minute, that's Midnight In Paris. Hmm, this just got tricky, guys!
Emily In Paris is currently streaming on Netflix. You can watch the trailer here.