Show time with Mitrajit Bhattacharya - Emily In Paris

Emily In Paris - Show time with Mitrajit Bhattacharya

If you are a fan of light and breezy rom-coms, spend considerable time on the Instagram and not appointed yet as the official representative to speak against the massacre of the French culture, you will probably like Emily in Paris, the series Netflix dropped last year during the long pandemic break. Parisians were, as expected, up in arms over the romantic comedy that stars Lily Collins as an American upstart overcoming French stereotypes in her pursuit of becoming a social media guru.

The show follows the journey of 20-something Emily, a junior marketing executive at an American company to Paris. The move materialises when Emily’s firm acquires a boutique French company operating in the world of luxury (oh so predictable) and Emily’s boss is unable to transfer to Paris. The company goes against logic, ignores the character’s glaring lack of French language skills and decides to send along young Emily to school her seasoned French colleagues in the ways of Instagram.

The action moves to Paris, or the candy-floss version of it as many would say, within minutes of the series starting. The first few episodes are a kaleidoscope all the French cliches the writers could think of: rich women in haute couture discreetly letting their tiny dogs poo on the street, free-flowing conversation about sex among men in expensive suits, wine for breakfast, love for cigarettes and pastries and a disdain for American culture. Emily encounters every French stereotype possible and tries to rectify it by adjusting it to the American way. Supporting characters point them out as plain bad, but Emily is relentless. “Americans live to work; we work to live”, a colleague sums up the difference to her. Very appropriate for the times we are living in, the series has a fun take on the millennial’s life that teaches us a lot about influencer marketing, instagram moments and trends and the attitude of learning the medium with fearless experimentation.

The real fun part of the watch remains the titular character of Emily. There is an endearing confusion whether to laugh at every misstep of the blundering, tactless outsider or be in awe of the young everywoman hero that we can identify with. Lily Collins is amiably breezy as the new age poster girl of rampant capitalism, yet she brings an oasis like charm that is lacking elsewhere. Emily astonishingly tone-deaf, selfish to the point; love angles are thrown in but always as a side plot, not to derail the main narrative.

For many French critics and viewers, the “proud cultural ignorance” was too misrepresented, and the show has been roundly criticised, mocked and dismissed for perpetuating stereotypes of the French, glorifying an unrealistic theme park version of Paris and absurd characterisation of the French. But for the rest of the world, the series is a peek into the life of millennials and a cultural conflict between the English and the French speaking that will continue to provide us with popcorn entertainment.

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