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Emily in Paris Is Going to Seduce You

Emily in Paris is a treat, a beguiling work of Netflix escapism, and also, let’s face it, the closest you will likely get to Paris in the next six months. It is a Darren Star show, which means it’s fun and stylish and only partly steeped in reality. It is unabashedly on the side of its plucky heroine, played by Lily Collins, who dresses like Carrie Bradshaw and is self-involved like Carrie Bradshaw and is also charming, so you will root for her regardless of her flaws, like … Carrie Bradshaw. The first season of Emily in Paris, which drops in full this Friday, contains some moments that are seductive and others that require you to suspend your disbelief so forcefully that they may induce minor temporary brain damage. You also will not care at all about the excessive disbelief suspension because, again, Emily in Paris is a treat, and in 2020, people are desperate for any excuse to treat themselves.

This particular treat doesn’t waste any time establishing its premise. As the first episode begins, Emily Cooper, who works at Gilbert Group, a large Chicago-based marketing firm, is chatting with her boss, Madeline Wheeler (Kate Walsh), about Madeline’s pending move to Paris to work with a boutique luxury-focused firm, Savoir, which Gilbert Group has just acquired. While sniffing some perfume, Madeline immediately becomes nauseous and throws up in her office trash can. A woman vomiting can mean only one thing: preg-nant! No, seriously, that’s the only reason a woman ever vomits on television. Come on, we all know this.

Within four minutes of screen time, after Madeline confirms her pregnancy and passes on the job, Emily arrives in Paris, where she’ll take on Madeline’s role for a year and, in her mind, totally make things work long-distance with her boring American boyfriend. That latter detail seems instantly ludicrous as soon as she cute-meets her downstairs neighbor, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), a ridiculously handsome chef with whom she strikes up a friendship. And by “friendship,” I mean they look at each other longingly a lot until maybe, perhaps, one of them makes a move.

Emily is lucky to have Gabriel and another newly acquired acquaintance, a nanny named Mindy (Ashley Park of Broadway’s Mean Girls), since her co-workers at Savoir — especially Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), who runs the place — want little to do with her. It’s understandable, to an extent. She has no experience working with the kinds of fashion and cosmetic brands that are their core clients. (Her previous big professional win was a campaign for a diabetes medication.) She can’t speak French. She arrives on her first day of work wearing a button-down shirt with an image of the Eiffel Tower on it. She is the quintessential basic American.

For their part, though, her colleagues are dismissive, rude, and largely resistant to new ideas. In other words, they are stereotypically French. This clash of cultures defines Emily in Paris and may call to mind another Star series, TV Land’s Younger. (Emily in Paris was originally intended as a TV Land series, then was slated to air on the Paramount Network before ultimately being picked up by Netflix, which, honestly, is a perfect fit given the show’s binge-worthiness.) In many ways, Emily in Paris plays like a complement to Younger. Both center on women trying to succeed in unwelcoming professional climates. That character on Younger, Sutton Foster’s Liza, is a middle-aged woman pretending to be a millennial, while on Emily in Paris, she’s a millennial American trying to seem more savvy among the French elite. Both Emily and Liza have antagonistic relationships with their supervisors. (Sylvie is a tougher version of Younger’s Diana.) Even the aesthetics of Emily in Paris are reminiscent of Younger, from the glamorous events Emily frequently attends to the time-lapse images of Paris that bridge the transitions between scenes. If you’ve been missing that series about generational warfare in book publishing, Emily in Paris does a fine job making up for its absence.

To be clear: Younger is still the smarter show, in part because it’s easier to buy that Liza is good at her job (since she secretly possesses professional and life experience) but also because there’s often a gulf between what Emily does and the degree to which she is praised for it. This is particularly true when her social-media skills are on display. In the seventh episode, Emily attends an event for influencers hosted by Durée, a chichi cosmetics brand and former Savoir client. She Instagrams a video of herself wearing its lip gloss and, while eating a berry off of a nearby piece of leafy décor, declares it “smudgeproof, even when you’re berry hungry.” (Emily’s brand is basically puns and plays on words.) Within seconds, the head of Durée sees the video and says to her assistant, “I like her, she’s clever.” I assume the Durée lady really got a kick out of Emily’s Insta post in episode nine: a photo of a cheeseburger in a restaurant accompanied by the hashtag #CheeseburgerinParadise.

As cringey as her Insta can be, it’s still entertaining to watch Emily triumph over try-hards and mega-snobs and resourcefully figure out how to smoothly detangle herself from work snags. It’s also a great pleasure to watch her encounters with Gabriel. Collins and Bravo have an easy chemistry, and Bravo, a French actor and model, has a naturally gentle quality that distinguishes him from the other, more presumptuous men who pursue Emily. (Of course, she is pursued by multiple men. She is attractive, and she is in Paris and that means she has to have sex. The show is very clear on this point.) Bravo is also arguably the hottest guy ever to appear on a Darren Star show, and yes, that is a statement. This writer stands by it.

The humans don’t provide the only eye candy on Emily in Paris. Frequent Star collaborator Patricia Field worked on the costumes, which are invariably eye popping and Google-worthy. The whole first season was shot in Paris, and the way the filmmakers, including executive producer Andrew Fleming, who directs multiple episodes, capture the quaint cafés and walk-and-talks along the Seine makes the city seem both tangible and magical. The pacing in each roughly half-hour episode zips right along, which makes it very reasonable to say, “Oh, I’ll just watch one more.” And you will. That’s practically a guarantee.

During one scene, Emily argues with a co-worker who insists French romances are better than American rom-coms because they’re darker and more realistic. “Don’t you want to go to the movies to escape life?,” Emily asks. Girl, thanks to the pandemic, a lot of Americans still can’t even do that. When we want to escape life, we can turn to Netflix, and when we do, Emily in Paris will be there to say “Bonjour,” in a very American accent.


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Emily in Paris is the very silly show we need right now: Review

Lily Collins flounces around the City of Lights in this pretty and frivolous comedy from Darren Star.

Emily in Paris is an aggressively frivolous show. The new series from creator Darren Star is a travelogue disguised as a comedy starring Lily Collins, who flounces around the City of Lights in a series of increasingly ridiculous midriff-baring ensembles. In any other year, I would’ve made it about 13 minutes into the pilot before slamming my laptop shut with a disdainful harrumph. In 2020, I devoured the entire first season (debuting Friday on Netflix) like a tray of petits fours and remain desperately hungry for more.

Emily Cooper (Collins) is a plucky twenty-something living in Chicago. She has a bland boyfriend named Doug (Roe Hartrampf) and a job at a marketing firm, where she helps come up with social media promotions for pharmaceuticals and geriatric care facilities. For reasons that don’t quite make sense but ultimately don’t really matter, Emily’s firm sends her to Paris for a year to be the “American eyes and ears” at Savoir, a French marking firm her company recently acquired. Never mind that Emily doesn’t speak French. Never mind that she has no experience promoting the types of luxury brands that are on Savoir’s client list. For the purposes of this show, Emily has everything she needs: a bottomless suitcase full of stylish outfits and the wholly unearned confidence of the young and naïve.

On her first day at Savoir, Emily arrives wearing a blouse printed with an image of the Eiffel Tower and chirping greetings through a translation app on her phone. Naturally, everyone hates her. What’s interesting about Emily in Paris is that Star seems to know that his heroine is très annoying — just wait until she tries to explain the “male gaze” to a libidinous French perfumer (William Abadie) — and therefore not the best surrogate for the audience. So he surrounds her with a host of entertainingly refined French co-workers (played by entertainingly refined French actors) who voice their disdain for Emily bluntly and often. “You have no mystery,” sniffs her glamorous boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). “You’re very, very obvious.” An older colleague named Luc (Bruno Gouery) regards the American upstart dismissively, citing “the arrogance of [her] ignorance,” while a legendary French fashion designer (Jean-Christophe Bouvet) takes one look at Emily and shrieks, “Ringard!” (Rough translation: “That’s a basic bitch.”)

Despite the constant derision, Emily remains determined to teach these French olds about the power of social media engagement. Just as Star set Younger in a hallucinatory reality where the publishing industry is rife with high fashion and glamour, here he crafts a world in which Emily’s marketing job is more about party hopping around Paris than assembling PowerPoints. (All 10 episodes were shot on location in France.) This gives our heroine plenty of time for meet-cutes with her dashing downstairs neighbor, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), and leisurely lunches with her new friend Mindy (Ashley Park), a Chinese expat who drolly guides Emily through her minefield of faux pas. (“You think you’re gonna change the entire French culture by sending back a steak?”) Park, the Tony-nominated breakout from Mean Girls: The Musical, is a breezy, funny delight; she elevates even the cheesiest dialogue (“I’d bon appetit him!”) with her ebullient charisma. When Mindy’s backstory is revealed in episode 6 — no spoilers, but it involves a show called Chinese Popstar and a zipper meme — you’ll wish you were watching Mindy in Paris. (Not too late for a spin-off, Mr. Star!)

That’s not to say that Collins has somehow failed in her role. Emily is written as an irritating go-getter who relentlessly pursues her colleagues’ approval and believes wholeheartedly that she deserves it. If Collins delivered an Emily who was likable — well, that would be a failure. The actress also serves as a vehicle for Emily in Paris’ other leading lady: Patricia Field. The celebrated Sex and the City stylist, along with costume designer Marylin Fitoussi, drape Collins in a cacophony of clashing patterns, crop tops, extremely mini miniskirts, berets and ridiculous bucket hats, monogrammed turtlenecks, and in one particularly horrifying moment, a see-through raincoat that Emily wears… indoors. I don’t know if this is real fashion, but it was fascinating to watch.

In one of his many moments of Emily-centric ennui, Luc offers her these words of wisdom: “Thinking you can escape life is your problem. You can never escape life. Never.” Maybe not, but if you need a five-hour brain vacation, Paris is a worthwhile destination. Grade: B

Emily in Paris season 1 premieres Friday on Netflix


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Emily in Paris Is a Fluffy, Charming Cliché Soufflé

We’ve all had this fantasy: an imperious French woman levels a stern gaze at you and says, in lilting English, “Delete your account.” Television writer Darren Star has long been a purveyor of fantasy, most famously as the creator of Sex and the City. And so, in his new series Emily in Paris (Netflix, September 30), Star blesses us with this almost erotic moment, a Huppert-esque woman telling us exactly what we should all be doing in these terrible digital times of ours.

On the show, though, the line is meant as an impediment for its titular star, a young marketing whiz who’s found herself cavorting the City of Light after an unexpected career twist. She’s been brought there, quite to the frustration of the locals, to revitalize a French marketing house so that it may better represent luxury brands to the young women of the United States. Emily in Paris is, almost shockingly at times, very much a show about social-media marketing, influencers, and the hideous convergence of commerce and personal life. It’s a love letter to terrible things, and yet I swooned.

Fine, okay, “swooned” might be a strong word. Felt the first tingle of a crush, maybe. I happily devoured it. Glugged it with a bottle of champagne while I sat on my couch, dreaming of traipsing along the Seine, sans mask. (I added the champagne part for dramatic effect, but you absolutely should watch this show drunk.) The point is, Emily in Paris goes down a treat if you can set aside the myriad things it does badly or, perhaps worse, fails to do at all. Anyone with a passing knowledge of how the city of Paris actually functions in 2020 will find the show’s portraiture lacking, to say the least. The way the series values fabulousness and the selling of things over pretty much everything else is also not great for this particular juncture in human history. But if you can tolerate, or even crave, some empty calories right now, Star and company deliver the goods.

Lily Collins plays Emily, a clever but not exactly savvy twenty-something who leaves her native Chicago, and her boyfriend, to fill in for a newly pregnant coworker (Kate Walsh in a recurring cameo, perhaps doing a solid for the ‘flix family on breaks from The Umbrella Academy). Off Emily jets, speaking no French, terribly unprepared for the way French people are. Which, in the show’s estimation, is haughty and chauvinistic and ever lunching instead of working. It’s a pretty quaint view of contemporary Parisians, so steeped in years of American stereotyping that it’s weird that Emily is shocked to find her new co-workers like this. All Parisians aren’t this way, of course, and yet so many movies and shows (including Sex and the City! Which Emily surely would have watched!) have told Americans that they are. So it’s awfully strange that Emily, in this little jewel box simulation of Earth, is so surprised to encounter these styles and customs.

What I mean is, the show should be—or at least could be—a little more aware of its cliché. But, non. It is instead happy to gambol off into its tightly prescriptive version of things without question, tossing its poisson into new eau that is almost entirely of its own invention. Which, I guess, is the show’s prerogative, to depict a place how it wants to depict it. Sociology it ain’t.

Anyway, Emily in Paris moves along at a witty enough clip that you can’t spend much time scratching your head at all its curious anachronisms and flagrant, willful inaccuracies. Each episode is only a half-hour, just like Sex and the City, which means you barely have a chance to question things before Emily has found herself in her next mildly intriguing entanglement, job-related or romantic. Collins click-clacks along the show’s cobblestones with aplomb, selling Emily’s tourist-y guilelessness and her workplace acumen. She does so in high fashion, ornate outfits put together by Sex and the City mainstay clothier Patricia Field and costume designer Marylin Fitoussi.

Just like Carrie’s beaux on Sex and the City, the men in Emily’s life are handsome but not too alienatingly hot. They have at least a slight rumple of real life, nicely off-setting Emily’s TV-made glow. Emily has a sassy, singing best friend in Mindy Chen, a Chinese expat heiress played smartly by Mean Girls the Musical Tony nominee Ashley Park. Emily’s boss—who delivers that withering “Delete your account”—is played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, who sometimes seems a little embarrassed to be there, debasing her people so. Mostly, though, she commits herself ably to the antagonizing, and maybe every so slightly softening, grande doyenne role.

As the show teeters along, it stays curiously muted about sex, particularly considering its source. Perhaps that’s because the series was originally developed for regular old cable, before the Paramount Network shuffled it off to Netflix. (It’s beginning to seem that Paramount has just become a clearinghouse studio for future Netflix movies and shows.) There is at least one very amusing, and almost ethically wrong, sexual encounter that gives the show a much needed frisson of danger, but otherwise Emily in Paris is almost disarmingly pleasant and frictionless, free of real stakes beyond whether or not Emily will have to quit her burgeoning Instagram account to please her stern and stuck-in-her ways boss.

The big business deals are landed and lost, the men bedded and bemoaned. The croissants are flaky, the jokes alternately pop-culture piquant and corny. What more could you want? (Well, a lot more, but these are meager times.) Oh, and the city looks great. No matter what silliness is set in its streets, it is, after all, still Paris.


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Darren Star’s ‘Emily in Paris’ Officially Moving to Netflix

The series from the ‘Younger’ creator was poised to debut on Paramount Network last summer.

It’s official: Darren Star’s Emily in Paris is moving from Paramount Network to Netflix.

The Paris-shot romantic comedy starring Lily Collins was originally poised to launch on the ViacomCBS-owned basic cable network last summer but will officially debut in the fall on the streaming giant.

The 10-episode half-hour comedy revolves around Emily, an ambitious 20-something marketing executive from Chicago, who unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing company — and she is tasked with revamping their social media strategy. Emily’s new life in Paris is filled with intoxicating adventures and surprising challenges as she juggles winning over her work colleagues, making friends and navigating new romances.

Star created the series, which was filmed entirely on location in Paris and throughout France. The comedy is produced by MTV Studios and Jax Media, which also is behind Star’s TV Land favorite, Younger. Jax’s Tony Hernandez and Lilly Burns exec produce alongside Andrew Fleming and Star.

“MTV Studios and I couldn’t hope for a more perfect home for Emily in Paris than Netflix. With their international reach, we are excited to share Emily with audiences around the world,” Star said.

Emily in Paris’ move to Netflix arrives more than two months after news leaked that the series would not air on the ViacomCBS-owned general entertainment network. Paramount Network first developed the series back in 2017, when Kevin Kay ran the cable network. The show’s move, which was developed by ViacomCBS rising star Keith Cox, is part of a strategy change in which Paramount Network is looking for more broad-skewing dramas with big stars as it attempts to replicate the success of Kevin Costner vehicle Yellowstone. The cabler has no original scripted comedies.

MTV Studios, overseen by Chris McCarthy, was launched a few years ago with the goal of tapping into the company’s vault in a bid to monetize its library as it looked to become a content supplier to third-party buyers. While McCarthy most recently picked up Beavis and Butt-Head and Daria spinoff Jodie for Comedy Central, MTV Studios has been able to sell such shows as The Real World to Facebook Watch, among others. To that end, MTV Studios is also prepping a Hilary Duff-led Younger spinoff, which could wind up being sold to a third-party buyer. Younger was briefly slated to move to Paramount Network but execs reversed course and the Star-created series will remain on TV Land as the cabler’s last scripted original.

Star, meanwhile, is fresh off signing a sweeping overall deal with ViacomCBS, that will see him create and develop new programs for both its cable networks, streamers and, yes, outside buyers.