THE SERIES "Emily in Paris"
WHEN | WHERE Streaming now on Netflix.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT An American is, once again, in Paris as Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), an expert in social media strategy, moves from Chicago to the City of Light when she gets a job at a French marketing firm.
Cultures clash and Emily's co-workers are rightly resentful that she hasn't even bothered to learn their language before hopping across the pond, but our protagonist is swept up in the wonder of it all in this desperately insubstantial new Netflix series.
"Emily in Paris," the latest from the "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star, co-stars Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park and Lucas Bravo.
MY SAY We could all use some serious escapism right now, but there's escapism and then there's a show that seems to be painstakingly committed to being as dumb and bland as possible.
This is a truly miserable experience.
It exists in a version of Paris that strips the metropolis of everything interesting and magical to the point where it might as well be your everyday midsized American city.
This is Paris, for heaven's sake. It is a major center of world culture. It's the Louvre and the Musée D'Orsay, Montmarte and the Champs-Élysées. It deserves better than to merely provide the background for Instagram selfies in what is, over the first five episodes of a 10-episode season, an insipid journey of self-discovery.
The sad fact is that the characters are much less interesting than the city they inhabit and the clothing they wear.
Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Christian Siriano — Emily rocks the designer outfits to such an overwhelming extent that she barely even seems to be human. No one dresses like this, all the time.
Then there's the dialogue, which consists in no small part of absolutely terrible puns — "hashtag, oh crepe!" "I'd Bon Appétit him." Watching this, you will groan more than you have ever groaned before.
Collins doesn't have a lot to work with, but she never finds a way to make Emily relatable, or empathetic, or to imbue her with any other quality that might inspire an audience to care.
The character is insufferably perky, captured with broad comic stylings seen in extra long reaction shots that emphasize the show's relentless drive to be as fake as possible.
The writers don't seem to have the slightest understanding of the world they're depicting. Emily is a so-called social expert but mostly makes lame and obvious posts that somehow generate a widespread following. "Paris is for cheese lovers" is not gonna get you that big audience.
Casual sexual harassment is rampant at her workplace, treated as comic fodder. "I would love to stay and educate you on workplace harassment," Emily says to two male colleagues after they have decided to nonchalantly discuss sexual positions with her. "But I have a lunch."
It comes as no great surprise to learn that French critics are pretty down on this show, given that it engages in the most condescending possible stereotypes about the Parisian locals. They're mean, bitter and sarcastic; they have cigarettes for lunch. The show thrives on extraordinarily dumb culture-clash jokes.
The only exception is the dreamy downstairs neighbor Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), whose sole purpose is to provide Emily with food, a shower, and affection.
It's all very exhausting.
BOTTOM LINE This is a terrible show. Avoid it at all costs.