Guilty Pleasure: Emily in Paris
If you’re looking for an almost entirely substance-less guilty pleasure of a television experience, which – let’s face it – I often am, look no further than Netflix’s Emily in Paris.
Staring Lily Collins as the titular Emily, the series tells the story of a relatively well-to-do Chicago young woman who is transferred to her marketing and advertising (I think – maybe PR??) firm’s Paris office.
The show is immensely watchable, perhaps because of its familiarity. There’s every trope under the sun, from a short attempt at long distance love to a love triangle you could see coming more than a full Parisian arrisdonment away. Along the way, we follow Emily as she establishes herself as something of a fashion influencer (gasp), a career turn which brings at times conflicts with her traditional day job – which seems to involve little more than expensive parties and flirting with handsome French businessmen.
As you might have guessed, the emotional stakes of the show are as low as can be. In that sense it differs a little from a similarly themed show I have blogged about before under the banner of ‘guilty pleasures’, that being The Bold Type. While both are similarly brightly lit and draw heavily on a modern Instagram aesthetic and sensibility, The Bold Type makes, sometimes successful, ofttimes a bit clumsy, attempts to tackle relevant or at least ‘hot-button’ social issues in a way Emily in Paris just isn’t capable.
The closet Emily gets is in drawing enormous and crude generalisations. The most overt is the idea of episode 2, that French women are not feminists and have a view of femineity that draws power from attracting the gaze and appreciation of men, while American women shun such things. Perhaps a kernel of truth at the core (although arguable), but laughably generic.
That said, Collins is quite likeable as the precocious Emily, and anyone who has spent some time living abroad can empathise with her sense of aimlessness and desire for social connections, as well as the feeling that something you dreamed off might not be quite living up to the hype. Of course, for Emily, it ultimately does – her career blossoms, she finds good friends and romantic relationships.
At a time like this, amid a pandemic and a degree of global political uncertainty, it is nice to have that little bit of escapism, if only for a few hours.