Arts and Entertainment

Cliché in Paris

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Issue 5, Volume 111

By Ivy Halpern 

Have you ever watched a show where all you wanted to do was punch the main character in the face the whole time? Well, “Emily in Paris” is the show for you. While many began the show because of Netflix’s extensive marketing and our current lockdown travel lust, the beautiful Paris scenery doesn’t quite make up for the unrealistic characters, illogical plot, and simply put, everything else that the show does wrong.

The show is about Emily (Lily Collins), who relocates to Paris as part of her job to give an “American perspective” at a marketing firm. She speaks no French and is clueless to classic “Parisian culture,” which is heavily stereotyped in the show. Parisians weren’t happy with this show’s take, with one saying, “some clichés are so extreme that I wonder how the French cast rolled with them.” The main trope of “Emily in Paris” is a portrayal of French dating culture as dominated by cheating and polygamy. Despite the overwhelming criticism, creator Darren Star backs up his show, saying that the extreme stereotyping only goes to show the lens of an American girl who has never been to Paris and does not represent the opinions of the creators.

The first episode alone is filled with more clichés than there should be in an entire TV show, and they. Never. Stop. Emily gets to her apartment and—of course—meets her hot neighbor Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) right away, the obvious chemistry between them allowing for even the most oblivious watchers to predict what will happen an episode or two later. Emily then meets her classic “Devil Wears Prada” type boss, Sylvie. Instead of hating her verbally abusive boss, Emily constantly tries to win her over in what seem like the most ineffective yet cringy ways. The audience, however, can’t enjoy the mendacity Sylvie shows Emily—a supposedly likable quirk—because of her blatant and unlikeable anti-feminist behavior.

Emily is only said to be an assistant in marketing but seen like a powerful executive. In the first episode, Emily says she is meant to just provide an American perspective for a French marketing company, but she is constantly taking on high clients and saving the day with her superhero-like tendencies where her extravagant ideas always somehow just work. Whenever she is faced with daunting challenges throughout the show, she fixes them just a few minutes later in the most impractical yet miraculous ways.

And when you think her job success can’t get any more confusing, all of a sudden Emily is inexplicably an influencer on Instagram and continuously markets for clients without any permission from the company.

Her influencer status is far from the only unrealistic aspect of the show. For example, Emily gets retweeted by the President’s wife and instantly becomes best friends with a random woman she meets at the park. The most unrealistic aspect has to be her high-end attire with severely over-styled looks. In the last episode, Emily is wearing two pocketbooks and a Chanel turtleneck. There is no marketing position that would afford Emily to dress this way, and the audience knows this. In 2020, this styling is just another way Emily’s character comes across as incredibly shallow and unrealistic.

Along with the show’s nonviable aspects, the plot is predictable and extremely unoriginal—even for a dumb meet-cute movie. First of all, why is it that every guy she meets immediately falls in love with her? No matter how many different guys fall for her, Gabriel, her neighbor, seems to be the one she truly likes. Of course, she can’t just be with him, as the writers made sure to add in one of the most overused tropes: a love triangle. Gabriel likes Emily but has a girlfriend, with whom Emily grows to be good friends. The three of them are put in many awkward situations, but in the end, not to worry, everything works out as per usual for this show.

Emily’s token Asian best friend, Mindy, also makes for a clichéd storyline. She is the classic rebellious daughter of rich parents, who have set plans for her despite her dream to be a singer. Of course, she abandons them and their money, which is how she comes to meet Emily in Paris.

Though her whole life has changed throughout the course of the season, Emily goes through no character development, and neither does any of the other characters. Her unrealistic and cloying behavior ensures the show has no real depth or heart, and Emily never becomes a character the viewer can care and root for. Throughout the show, she says that she always needs everything to be planned and perfect, and that is exactly the way everything seems to go for her, stunting the growth of her character and the potential of the story.

I can probably keep picking “Emily in Paris” apart for ages, and if I haven’t made it clear enough, I do not recommend it. The cringe, stereotypes, boring plot, and impracticality make this show incredibly painful to watch. Unlike many shows that are so outrageously bad and cliché they turn out enjoyable, “Emily in Paris” doesn’t even have the sincerity to achieve this.