Emily in Paris has mad Sex in the City vibes, which could make this the next craze if it gains a following.
This review of Netflix’s Emily in Paris season 1 contains no spoilers. The comedy series will be released on the streaming service on October 2, 2020.
We recapped every episode — check out the archive.
Once you unravel the first three episodes of Emily in Paris you begin to wonder if it will be a self-serving, American comedy about a young, beautiful marketing professional taking on the unknown, battling with the language barrier and falling short due to the rudeness of her French acquaintances. And for the most part, that’s the comedy in its introduction, as Emily becomes accustomed to a new culture while trying to be a polite and bubbly American.
The premise is that Emily decided to take an opportunity while leaving her secure relationship and routine life behind. The Netflix series celebrates Paris in a way where you begin to wonder if the writers have visited Paris themselves — the whole idea of the city is that it is blossoming in romance and setting — that’s only an idea you can get if you’ve never actually visited the city yourself. Emily in Paris season 1 oozes with cliches and tourism-like tropes; it could have easily become a car crash.
Once it beds in, Netflix’s Emily in Paris props a story of an empowering woman battling against adversity in a foreign workplace while handing off sexist French men. Emily is alone in this world so she has to endure finding friends while also teasing out romantic subplots. I have seen criticism in some quarters of the web that suggests that Emily in Paris betrays the central plot of language barriers and tries to platform a “Mary Sue” — a quick reminder that this is a comedy laced with sex, romance, and bad decisions; it was never meant to be a realistic imagining of what it’s like to not be able to speak a language in France for its entirety — imagine how ludicrously repetitive that would be.
And with the plentiful discussions of sex and bad decisions, the comedy shines through by giving Emily objectives in her new job; she’s always against it; always needing to impress, which gives the storyline some output and continuation.
It’s difficult to discuss Emily in Paris without talking about Lily Collins and her representation of the character; the story props her up as this unattainable, strikingly gorgeous woman — every French male character in the series wants her. The series highlights the male gaze at its maximum, with scenes where Emily has to bat away or seduce men of her choosing. But the fact is, Lily Collins is a mesmerizing woman in her own right without this character and with a strong performance, the series is really all about her — the other cast members are merely propping her up.
And in a way, without Lily Collins, Emily in Paris could have easily become a fresh dud for the streaming service. Almost on her own, the actor has managed to carry the series by elevating the writing and ensuring she glows on the screen. This Netflix series has problems and it’s far from perfect, however, Emily in Paris has mad Sex in the City vibes, which could make this the next craze if it gains a following and follows up with a stronger second season.