Have you seen “Emily in Paris”? It’s fun, but oh-la-la! the exaggerations!

The story is about a young social media whiz sent at the last minute to fill in for a French-speaking senior colleague. Our heroine, Emily, is neither senior nor able to speak French. She doesn’t even have experience in the same sector as the Paris office she’s sent to. But she bubbles over about how she’s going to teach them. No wonder they aren’t happy with her.

The French co-workers almost all speak English, fluently. This part is true, especially in an office full of university-educated people. In my village, the kids started learning English in preschool–age 3–and through high school it’s obligatory. Math is optional after 10th grade, but English is required. And a second foreign language.

When Emily goes into a boulangerie and asks for “une pain au chocolate,” the boulangère corrects her–“un pain au chocolat,” and asks whether she wants anything else. Emily pays no attention, as if nobody is even speaking to her. The baker is a little taken aback. She patiently goes through the coins Emily dumps on the tray to pay. I realize it’s confusing to use new money, but they are all marked with numbers and I assume she can look at the amount on the cash register and add, no French needed.

OMG cholesterol

Some viewers may look at this as an example of French service sector rudeness, but I saw someone being not just efficient and competent but also patient and helpful. I have never had a consistently rude waiter or salesperson in France. Sometimes I’ve been pigeonholed as “oh, no, an American,” but we always get past that. The French are extremely professional. Waiter is as good a job as any, with a living wage that doesn’t rely on tips, and full health-care coverage thanks to excellent socialized medicine. Same with working in retail. It isn’t like New York, where nobody is a waiter–they are actors and singers and artists working at this restaurant to pay the bills until they get their big break and you are annoying them by expecting them to serve you. And often, here, they speak at least some English. Try finding multilingual staff in the U.S. Or signs and menus in other languages. Why are people surprised to find things in French in France?

There’s a story line about how the boss, Sylvie, is the mistress of a big client, and the client’s wife not only knows about it but sanctions it and is Sylvie’s best friend. The show is from the same guy who did “Sex in the City,” so bed-hopping is to be expected. And maybe in certain bourgeois households in big cities, this kind of arrangement happens, the way it does among the wealthy in New York and Los Angeles. Well, probably not the being friends with the mistress part, but the casual infidelity where Mr. Master of the Universe affirms his virility by acquiring a younger mistress while Mrs. MoU looks the other way in order to preserve her place in the realm. (See: famous couple recently infected by Covid-19.) I surveyed my French friends: nope. Not normal. Would be fodder for juicy gossip.

Example: As a pre-coronavirus dinner party drew to its close, the women carried the dishes to the kitchen, and stories were dished over last glasses of wine. There was talk about the adventures of one couple, now deceased. The husband was unfaithful. The wife found out and sought revenge by sleeping with the husband’s business partner. She got pregnant, and their son looked nothing like the husband, although he accepted him as his own. This is not a titillating story. The son, who I’m told is the spitting image of his biological father, seems to carry immense sadness, as if he has a dark cloud over his head in a Charlie Brown way. No wonder.

There’s another scene where Emily is invited to a friend’s family home in the country. She sleeps with the friend’s brother. The mother talks to Emily later, and asks whether the sex was good–she wants to be reassured her son is good to women. That part I can almost believe. Once when visiting some friends, the son’s girlfriend came into the kitchen in the morning, having spent the night. The mother asked whether she had a good time, and told her to insist on it. I think there is no better birth control than the pressure to have absolutely amazing sex every time.

My idea of a floor.

In that same episode, Emily walks out to the pool, where the father is sunbathing naked. She is shocked. He isn’t. It’s set up as if he exposed himself to her, but he was at his home, doing his thing. If you think he realized she was shocked, then what he did was really gracious: he acted like nothing happened. For him, nothing did happen. Nudity isn’t a big deal here. It isn’t like people rip off their clothes, but, for example, if you go for a medical exam, there’s no paper gown to put on. They tell you to take off your clothes (maybe above the waist or below, depending on your exam), and where to put them, and then you sit and wait naked. When I went for a mammogram, I was shuffled topless from the x-ray room to the sonogram room. It was through inner doors, not the public area, but still, walking who knows where, away from my clothes, was like being in the ocean and coming up for air to see your boat drifting away. And then you realize nobody cares about your boobs. Or they do care, but about the insides. They see boobs all day. Get over it.

One scene that’s very true is when Emily bites into the previously mentioned pain au chocolat and it’s a revelation. I vividly recall my first Belgian waffle, at a Belgaufre near la Monnaie, the opera house in Brussels. It was cold and drizzling, of course, and dark even though it wasn’t late. I remember all the people going by, the way the drizzle softened the golden glow of the street lamps and made the sidewalks sparkle. The month must have been November, which is when I moved there. I got a chocolate-dipped gaufre. It was warm–they make them on the spot. The chocolate was amazing, of course. Nobody does chocolate better than the Belgians. And the waffle! Moist, a little chewy, with little crunches of sugar. Some of those little sugar bombs caramelized on the outside of the waffle as it cooked. OMG.

“Emily in Paris” is worth watching, if nothing else, for the radiant smile of Lucas Bravo, who plays Emily’s hunky neighbor, and all the shots of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. It’s Paris porn, which is the best kind.

39 thoughts on “Emily in Paris

  1. Gorgeous pics, ToF, and there is some serious floor envy happening here! And the perfect anecdotes and reminiscences. I shall have to put this on the List as I’m overdue for some fresh Paris porn, without the heavy duty police procedural to accompany it and some froth and cliché instead. I’m gathering there’s been a bit of a mixed reception to said clichés in your lovely land but I’m always happy to suspend belief for the sake of visuals!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For one thing, some of the clichés are, at best, applicable to Paris but not to the rest of France–the treating everybody as hicks. When I was in Belgium, the Bruxellois did the same to anybody not from Brussels, and I certainly got made fun of as a Midwesterner in New York. Big city dwellers are some of the most provincial. Otherwise, some of the stuff is kind of true, but not shown enough from both points of view, and if you just take Emily’s it seems like the French are awful, instead of that Emily is devoid of sophistication.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve now heard (read) so much about Emily i/Paris that I’m sure one day in the future I’ll watch it. ALL comments from inside France are rather negative, those from outside go in the same direction as yours… I’d probably (or so I think) just delight in the visuals and take the ‘action’ as an ‘encore’ – I’d enjoy the things like the pain au chocolat just as you did and I probably would scream a few times at the screen about ‘wrongs’ in the film – but watch it – I would!

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  3. How extraordinary – I’d not heard of Emily in Paris until I read an article this morning where the show was mentioned. And now your blog post! It’s a sign, I should obviously be watching the show!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I watched one episode but the cliché Frenchness of the American girl in Paris it really grated. I’ll probably go back and watch another just for fun but I doubt I’ll get as addicted as I did to Dix pourcent. Still, it’s fun I suppose. I wonder how well it would translate in French though?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What grated was that the show too often acted like she was right instead of “when in Rome.” When you go somewhere the first time, of course there’s culture shock, but only rubes think that they are right and everybody else is wrong instead of that there is more than one way to do things and that it’s up to the outsider to be respectful. I loved Dix Pour Cent (and Sylvie is played by the same actress who was the cheated-on wife in Dix Pour Cent!), but the plots were all the same–star client gets into wacky trouble and must be saved, usually through well-intentioned subterfuge. I guess all the Emily plots are the same, too: naive girl gets lesson in life.

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  5. Hello! It is always nice to see you here! I have heard of the show but have not watched it. I always like to watch shows in France, I love to watch the scenery even if I don’t actually take in the storyline. Weird I know. I will seek it out based upon your recommendation, sometimes we all need a predictable, cliche show with great scenery.
    I received your email and I have yet to find a minute to myself to respond. Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Phew! So refreshing to see a light-hearted review of Emily in Paris when so many bloggers are losing their minds over it. It’s a sitcom not Shakespeare. While many of us are unable to travel to Paris, the purely escapist “Paris porn”, of Emily in Paris is a welcome diversion. It was fun. It made me laugh…a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have just watched the whole series and yes, it was full of stereotypes and clichés but that didn’t stop me enjoying the programme. I’m not looking for deep, challenging TV at the moment, just superficial distraction works fine, Paris was as beautiful as ever and some of the outfits worn by the Sylvie character were to die for. Reminded me just how much I am missing France!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I watched it and almost stopped a couple of times…but the neighbor and the scenes of Paris kept me intrigued. When we lived in Paris, I made friends with some of my neighbors who lamented about their cheating husbands…and one neighbor from Provence would tell me that the Parisians could be snobby to her about her accent. So some of it rings true. I thought my daughter would like it since she is fluent, went to the Sorbonne for a year and worked there…but she thought it was dumb. Oh well…I watched all of them while my husband watched football 🙂

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  9. I really really wish and hope that any american worth its salt that watch this … thing (can you guess I did not appreciated it??) won(t take it for granted…
    As for the others, one can only close ones eyes to the not so worth its salt american…
    Sorry but the current time is dumb enough so no need of this show but to make money, that is my opinion.
    Not even the neighbour is good enough for me.
    If you want and need some Paris porn, there is always some true shows on youtube or other channel.
    Again, I would not recommand this show ever, which is a very bad idea of a show.
    And I have never met a mother that asked me about the sex life of her son…
    Well alright we do need something light and easy to the eyes in those time but THIS is a little bit too easy in my opinion.
    OK I am french so that may be that …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The show does show culture shock–the surprises of going to a new country. But it assumes that the American way is the normal way, instead of showing situations from both sides. Sometimes Emily’s cluelessness is downright rude, even if she doesn’t intend to be. But if someone views it only from her perspective, they will miss that.
      I think that parents in the U.S. give their children a bad outlook on sex. Boys are kind of winked at, like they are expected to push to have sex, boys will be boys, no limits. And girls are shamed for having any desire. So girls are supposed to say no and boys are supposed to talk or trick them into it. There’s nothing about caring, or about everybody feeling good about it. I would hope some parents would realize that yes, it would probably be much healthier for my kid to be positive and caring in sex and not just trying to score.


  10. I’m just catching up with my blog reading, so I’m late to this conversation. I throughly enjoyed Emily and have been really amused at the outrage I have been reading from Americans living in Paris. It reminds me of New Yorkers when Sex and the City was all the rage…we had fits about how unrealistic that show was! (but I LOVED IT for the escape that I so needed it to be at that time in my life) I did not know that Emily was related to SATC, but it totally makes sense now. It’s silly, pretty, escapist fun, and I throughly enjoyed it for what it provided me…a wonderful, and much needed diversion.

    Liked by 1 person

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