Excusez moi, is ‘Emily in Paris’ a faux pas?

Emily in Paris cover art. Photo taken by Carole Bethuel.

“Emily in Paris” cover art. Photo taken by Carole Bethuel.

Charlotte Kelly '23, Staff Reporter

Twenty-something year old Emily Cooper leaves snowy Chigaco on a whim after landing her dream job in Paris. As she navigates the city of love in colorful couture, Emily (Lily Collins) grapples with her inability to speak French, her unsuccessful attempts to please her new colleagues, her flirtations with French men, and her newfound Instagram fame. Viewers quickly became intoxicated with Emily’s new life in Paris. It was no surprise when ‘Emily in Paris’ was announced as Netflix’s most popular comedy series of 2020, the streaming service recording a whopping fifty-eight million households watching within its first twenty-eight days.

With the series’ immense success, ‘Emily in Paris’ has received its fair share of criticism, especially for its stereotypical portrayals of different nationalities. ‘Emily in Paris’ portrays the French as rude chainsmokers, who participate in adulterous activities. The second series of the show presents Alfie, Emily’s British beau, as spending most of his time watching soccer or having a pint in the pub. The show has recently come under fire for its offensive depiction of a Ukrainian woman and has resulted in Ukraine’s culture minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, filing an official complaint to the streaming service. As reported by journalist Kate Abbott for The Guardian, it is confirmed that Tkachenko “sent a letter to the streaming giant to complain about the portrayal of Petra, played by actor Daria Panchenko, who is terrified of being deported in the show, shoplifts while on a shopping spree with Emily and has bad fashion sense.” Abbott continues describing the show’s insulting portrayal of Ukrainian women as “the ultimate faux pas.” 

In an interview with Elle, when asked about the shows criticisms, Lily Collins, who doubles as both a producer and actor in the Netflix original series, explains that after “hearing people’s thoughts, concerns, questions, likes, dislikes about [‘Emily in Paris’], [she] really wanted diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera.”

Still, I love ‘Emily in Paris.’ And I’m not alone in this. ‘Emily in Paris’ appeals to people like me, people in desperate need of an escapist dream. Journalist Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic, believes the initial success of ‘Emily in Paris’ stems from it’s pandemic-era debut, a time when traveling to Paris seemed impossible. Creator of ‘Emily in Paris,’ Darren Star explains that “the timing of the series release was fortuitous for us as everyone around the world was able to become armchair travelers and live vicariously through our cast.”