Carrie Bradshaw voice; And as I sat there watching episode one of Emily In Paris, I couldn’t help but wonder; do we really need another frivolous show set in Paris? With a bright-eyed, twenty-something caucasian American- Blair Waldorf looking, Serena van der Woodsen dressing, Carrie Bradshaw masquerading- mash up as the main character? Whose role is to take us along on her picture perfect Parisian life adventures which her audience couldn’t possibly afford? Show us the same old well worn tourist traps of the city, with baguette totting, Breton stripe top wearing extras milling in the background? Whilst serving up a dollop of warm pain-au-chocolat being bitten into with gusto with the back drop of a pinterest board ready scene? Do we really? We don’t, but we got it anyway so let’s talk about it.
Sooooo, the critics hate it, the French are not happy (I don’t blame them), and some other, other people think this is a complete travesty. I get it; this is a clusterfuck of clichés, as if Paris needed any more of that. If you are looking for all of the overly romanticised stories about Paris, you’ll find them in here topped with the bucket hat. This is every white American girl’s fantasy of what Paris is; croissants, strolls along the Siene, never having to use the metro, (let’s be honest, nobody really likes it, but it is what it is), people watching in cafés, cigarettes, long lunches, breakfast wines, and that age old cliché of the French intolerance of outsiders, but in Emily’s case, I get it and completely concur. She shows up in Paris woefully ignorant, not even learning the basics, and with utter disregard for the culture, language, etc. it would infuriate anyone. I am glad they address this almost immediately and it is a stickling point that rubs, most everyone she works with, especially Sylvie, up several wrong ways; Emily is that American cliché she cannot stand.
Let’s get to it; Emily is an AWFUL person, absolutely- In the words of Lauren Conrad, a SUCKY PERSON! We do not need to be shagging our friend’s boyfriends in 2020, or in 2019 when this would have been shot, or at all! In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 is already fucking us over so we do not need our friends or so called, ganging up on us too. Connard! In season 2, I would like Camille to punch her in the face, opening scene, just BAHM! She would deserve it too. As a character, she garners no sympathies or loyalties from the audience, so her conflicting emotions about Gabriel, who is also a dick for cheating on his girlfriend, makes very little case to justify her nonsensical actions.
The other characters, make this show watchable and for the most part, enjoyable. They do not fawn over her for being ignorant or think it’s cute that she speaks no word of French, or has an utter disregard for their way of life and culture. (And the date thing drives me bonkers; America you are the ones stating the dates wrong… its day-month-year, any other way is just plain stupid and wrong) But I digress, back to the cohorts, they make the show palatable despite the heavy hand of clichés, dose of ageism and tokenism. Julien played by Samuel Arnold is the main Black supporting character, whose wardrobe looks and feels like the reject pieces from Sex and The City, has no development except to push that tired trope of bitchy gay friend that was prevalent in SATC way back when and in that respect, the show feels dated. We are stuck somewhere in between when Carrie accompanied the Russian to Paris and the summer Blair and Serena spent in the city. Sylvie played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu is presented as the ever aggravated older lady boss who does not take too kindly to the new young American girl with her bright ideas and no i in team vibes. Mindy, played by Ashley Park, a Chinese nanny living in Paris who is an heiress to a fastening empire back in China because Crazy Rich Asians…, wins the day, her sexual innuendos are pure LOLs! One of the best moments was Pierre, the dinosaur couturier, acknowledging that utterly ridiculous ending of gossip girl; same Pierre same. Camille, the consummate Parisienne, is a sweetheart, that friend we want to make when we are in Paris for the first time and have no idea what to do or where to go. Shame she only exists in movies. Several of the men fawn over Emily who find her American-ness somewhat intriguing; I told you it was heavy on the banalities, but she chooses to shag her friend’s boyfriend. What a bitch. And of course it’s Paris right? Everyone lives in charming apartments with views to die for between the 6th and 8th arrondissement, and has a sexy neighbour who just happens to be a chef a la Ratatouille.
This is fluff; if you like that whole rose tinted lens of Paris; you’ll like this. It’s not highfalutin, nothing about it is new. It is pure guilty pleasure; filler for your Saturday morning lie-in and we could do with some escape in these here 2020 streets. OH SO MUCH. Those who will like it, will like it, and those who won’t simply won’t. Like Marmite but with a less complex flavour profile.
But the truth is, I wish this were a different story, I wish it had more soul and a main character worth investing in. I wish the storyline, escapist sure, would have been steeped in the realities of being an ex-pat in a foreign country, what it means. I wish this was another side to Paris that we have yet to discover. Another story. We’ve seen it, heard it, watched it and read it all before, walked the streets, lived the life with characters from shows past, in their charming chambre de bonnes. And as for Paris, I wanted something more for her, something other than what tourists reveal of her; a soulless charm cocooned amid a gluttony of monuments; which she most certainly is not if you bothered to get to know her. I wanted more for her than the Eiffel Tour at night (she is still my best girl), I wanted something… real, something much more than exhaustive narratives as if she were that aunt at the wedding trying to relive her hey day, when we barely even scratched the surface of who she really is. Paris can take your breath away if you let her, in the most spectacular of ways and if Emily is taking me to Paris, I wanted her to beguile me. And she didn’t.