Our Take: 4/5 Stars
Oh to be sitting in a small outdoor cafe, drinking an espresso out of a comically tiny cup, eating a buttery croissant, clouded in the heavy smell of cigarettes. For many Americans, this dream is now farther away than ever, as entry to France is all but banned. Netflix’s latest original series “Emily in Paris” brings viewers a little closer to this Parisian dream.
“Emily In Paris” follows Emily (Lily Collins, “Love, Rosie”), a sweet midwestern girl working at a marketing firm in Chicago. When her boss can not transfer overseas to oversee a merger with a French firm due to unforeseen circumstances, Emily gets the promotion of a lifetime. She leaves the country for the first time to work and live in Paris, despite the fact that she does not know a word of French.
The ten episode series was released on Oct. 2nd, 2020 and quickly claimed (and remains at) the number one spot in Netflix’s Top Ten list. While critical reviews of the series have been a little harsh, audiences have been much more receptive.
The secret to “Emily in Paris”’ success likely lies with creator Darren Starr. Previous credits on his resume include writing credits for “Sex and the City” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.” One thing is for certain, Starr certainly has his hand on the pulse on the romanticization of being a young person in a big city.
It is this central idea that makes the series so captivating. A small town girl moving to the big city and experiencing life is a narrative tale as old as time. It is not realistic — Emily lives in a huge apartment by Parisian standards, effortlessly makes friends with a cranky haute couture designer and has gorgeous French boys falling at her feet — but that is what makes it fun. “Emily in Paris” is escapism at its best and right now a little escapism is what everyone needs.
While the premise is solid, there are still some hiccups. Upon arriving in Paris, Emily quickly learns that the French are rude, especially to Americans and especially to Americans who do not know French. She is clueless and cringey, something that makes the first two episodes a little hard to swallow. Collins has had no problem playing a bubbly twenty-something socialite in the past, and her performance here is no different.
One of the best parts of the series is its filming location — there is truly no place on earth like Paris. Emily has morning runs along the Seine, lunches in the Jardin du Luxembourg and has work meetings at Cafe de Flore. The show knows its Francophile audience and is not afraid to exploit that. B-roll of the Place du Trocadero, Arc de Triomphe and the Pantheon make even cut scenes pleasurable.
While work was Emily’s reason for coming to Paris, she seems to do precious little of it — a fact explained away by the well known French laid-back attitude. Emily’s new boss, Sylvie, a stone cold “Girl Boss” hates her, providing much of the series conflict. Portrayed by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu (“Call My Agent!”), Sylvie is a woman who has worked hard to make her marketing firm successful and sees Emily as a younger, hotter usurper.
Alongside Collins and Leroy-Beaulieu is a supporting cast of characters that truly make this series worth the watch. Her first and best friend in Paris is Mindy Chen (Ashley Park, “Nightcap”), a billionaire heiress to a Chinese zipper empire who ran away from home to pursue a singing career. Mindy serves a great guide to expat life in Paris and often serves as some fun comedic relief.
Emily’s second friend is a quintessentially French it-girl, Camille (Camille Razat, “The 15:17 to Paris”). Camille’s parents own a Champagne chateau in Champagne and Camille owns an art gallery in Paris. She is effortlessly cool, and almost too nice. Razat’s accent is raspy and charming, making her character someone the viewers can not help but want to befriend.
Of course, in any female-focused dramedy there is an overwhelming amount of devastatingly attractive, charming eligible bachelors. The most notable is Gabriel, Emily’s downstairs neighbor. Played by Lucas Bravo (“Caprice”), Gabriel is a chef and aspiring restaurateur whose looks are that of a French Armie Hammer. His and Emily’s chemistry is so fun, and Bravo and Collins clearly enjoy one another’s company.
While “Emily in Paris” is not going to win any Emmys and certainly does not follow the current trend of ultra-stylized prestige television it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Not everything needs to be ground breaking and have a series message. Some things can just be fun. And “Emily in Paris” and all of its glamour and shenanigans is certainly fun.
Check out “Emily in Paris” on Netflix now.