Emily in Paris: French viewers furious over gamut of Gallic stereotypes

‘Name a cliche about France and the French, you’ll find it in Emily in Paris’

Lily Collins in Emily in Paris: pretty hard to stop watching

Lily Collins in Emily in Paris: pretty hard to stop watching

 

French critics do not like Emily in Paris, a new Netflix production in which an ambitious twentysomething from Chicago moves to the City of Light mainly, it often seems, in order to meet the gamut of Gallic stereotypes.

“The berets. The croissants. The baguettes. The hostile waiters. The irascible concierges. The inveterate philanderers. The lovers and the mistresses. Name a cliche about France and the French, you’ll find it in Emily in Paris,” said 20 Minutes.

Actress Lily Collins on the set of Emily in Paris last November in Paris. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/GC Images
Actress Lily Collins on the set of Emily in Paris last November in Paris. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/GC Images

“It reduces the capital’s inhabitants to vile snobs sporting Birkin handbags who light up a cigarette the minute they’re out of the gym,” complained the women’s webzine MadmoiZelle. “Three episodes might have been amusing. Unfortunately, there are 10!”

Created by Darren Star, who was responsible for Sex and the City, Emily in Paris tells the story of Emily Cooper, played by Lily Collins, who is sent to the French capital to work at a French marketing agency that her US employer has just bought.

There, wrote Première’s critic, Charles Martin, she discovers “that the French are all mean and all lazy and never arrive at the office before late morning; and that they are incorrigible flirts with no concept of being faithful”.

They are also, Martin said, “sexist, backward and, of course, have at best a fitful relationship with their showers . . . Frankly, watching Emily in Paris there’s plenty to feel insulted about. When they decided to caricature us, the authors didn’t hold back.”

In between “the berets, the cocktail dresses and the invariably spotless streets, Parisians will not find it easy to recognise their daily lives,” raged RTL radio. “Dream apartment with a view over a leafy square. Drinks parties and designer outfits. Roses, handsome Frenchmen who kiss your hand . . . We haven’t seen so many cliches about the French capital since the Paris episodes of Gossip Girl or the end of The Devil Wears Prada. ”

Sens Critique’s reviewer said viewers “will really have to be science fiction fans to enjoy this series, because it seems Parisians can be polite, always speak perfect English, make love for hours on end and only have to go to work if they feel like it”.

The series, ridiculed for its idealised, picture-postcard vision of Paris, has received no warmer a welcome from some of the capital’s inhabitants; one posted on Twitter a remake of the trailer featuring Emily arriving by taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport to a city of burnt-out cars, rubbish-strewn pavements and graffiti-covered doorways.

Others worried that “Americans are going to think we go to Café de Flore every day”, complained that “junior marketing executives are clearly earning more than they used to”, or expressed a desire for Emily to wind up lost in a rundown banlieue.

Several women complained about the impossibly good looks of Emily’s downstairs neighbour, Gabriel. “I’ve lived in Paris for nearly 10 years and I’ve never had a neighbour as handsome as that,” wrote one Twitter user.

A rare few, including some non-French Parisians, begged to differ from the general chorus of disapproval. “After all, if it was realistic it would be just another deadly boring French series,” wrote one commenter on the review website Allo Ciné. “I’m Polish and I’ve lived in Paris for 14 years,” said another. “I can tell you: this is exactly how the French are.” – Guardian

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