What ‘Emily in Paris’ got right about Paris

Rachel Arandilla
·2 min read

“Emily in Paris” was released on Netflix last Oct. 1 and immediately went viral. The response was divided. Some thought it was riddled with clichés, while others lauded it for being such a binge-worthy treat.

No matter what side of the fence you are on, it’s no denying that “Emily in Paris” was a great escapist series from current Covid-19 dire realities, offering a light-hearted antidote and some visual eye candy.

Having said that, here are some things the show got right about Paris:

French Cafe

Nowadays, the cafe is often the extension of the office. You order a drink and stare at your screen, cognizant of your surroundings. The French cafe experience is quite novel. In the alfresco area, rather than chairs facing one another, the chairs are arranged facing toward the street. You will notice people just admiring the view while having a smoke or enjoying coffee or wine. The French cafe is a social place, not a workplace.

Forgive them ‘cause they’re French

The “bad” characteristics were well-played out to be quirky idiosyncrasies of the show’s French characters: the philandering perfumer, rude staff, chain-smoking colleagues. Being French lets you get away with a lot of things. And for this, I wish I was also French. They drink too much? It’s because they’re French. They smoke too much? lazy? rude? cheated on you? French, French, French. They’re just so adorable, being French gives you a free, get-away pass for everything.

Joie de vivre

The French way of life, which is the pursuit of pleasure. “Joie de vivre,” is a deep, almost defiant commitment to appreciating the good things in life. Their approach toward life and everything else is charming nonchalance. I think the secret to the French is the quality over quantity. Indulgence of the real thing—real food, good wine, meaningful sex, thoughtful fashion... I guess that’s why despite their French vices, they still manage to live a good and worthwhile life. “When in a party, we don’t talk about work!” Emily got reprimanded for setting professional objectives during a soiree. Another character in the movie said it: We don’t live to work. We work to live.

American vs. French ideals of beauty

American ideals of beauty are “manufactured”: salon blow-dried hair, whitened teeth, perfect smile care of veneers/braces, bold lipstick, eyebrows on fleek. French beauty is more understated. Perfectly imperfect unkempt hair, messy bun, minimalist makeup, consistent with their laissez-faire attitude. Elegant, but in a muted way. Despite not knowing what a brush is, they still look tres chic.