Ah, Paris. The city of love. And croissants. And La Tour Eiffel.
We might have our own varying impressions of Paris, but these ideas stick out greatly in popular culture. For travellers and romantics all around the world, Paris is the dream place to be.
And just recently, a special new show from Netflix has been reviving these sentiments for Paris and French culture in general, with its audience being drawn further into the appeal of je ne sais quoi. Helmed by Sex and the City creator Darren Star, Emily in Paris stars Hollywood darling and eyebrow icon Lily Collins, alongside notable actors such as Philippe Leroy-Beaulieu and Kate Walsh. It takes us on the Parisian escapades of Emily, a happy-go-lucky marketing executive from Chicago.
Fast-paced, comedic and with the prescribed rom-com balance of drama and intrigue, the show quickly found itself turning into a cult hit, just within days after its release. Audiences around the world were soon pining after the way of the French – all the picturesque sceneries, the predominance of pastries and the sultry love affairs. People just couldn’t get enough of Paris.
However, with the fawning of some audiences also come the ire of the critics – especially those of the French. Many have accused the show of oversimplifying the reality of living in Paris. Personally, I have noted that the show also panders greatly to strong clichés and the overused trope of the gratification of the American dream. Emily came to Paris to offer a fresh perspective to her French counterparts, and she soon finds herself easily triumphing over the trials that come her way – no wonder why many French critics are just scathing at the notion that some American Instagram enthusiast was needed to show them the proper way of life. The Parisians are also initially depicted as snobbish and blasé, among several other stereotypes.
It is still important to look at things from a brighter perspective. After all, the show was never meant to be a documentary of actual life in Paris. In a recent interview, actor Lucas Bravo (who played the part of Gabriel, and is now the internet’s new boyfriend), partly agreed with the critics that while they staged a single version of Paris, it is “one of the most of the most diverse cities in the world.” He then added that “French critics have not understood that what is shown is only visible from a certain angle.” Critics may have been quick to disrepute the image of Paris that the show presents but Bravo responded that “Paris is also this, because it is many things.”
At the end of the day, with the gloomy air that has beset much of the world lately, an aesthetically brilliant and bubbly show, may be just a needed form of escapism. As long as we recognize the true diversity of Paris and its people, getting lost in the glittering world of Emily in Paris cannot possibly be too bad. It is after all, while we might not care to admit, one depiction of our dream life in the city of Paris.
By Sophie Jocson