Every now and then a TV show comes along with the most incredibly annoying lead character.
In “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Larry David managed to turn a nasty, dastardly, politically incorrect, loudmouth into a funny character that you just couldn’t bring yourself to dislike.
Larry Davis in Curb is just such an asshole but he’s a loveable one at that because he’s ridiculously funny and has heart!
The cast of “Seinfeld” was known for their selfish, self-centered personalities—but they were funny and had character and heart!
Kramer, George, Elaine and Jerry. Four extremely self-centered people who made a show about nothing one of the greatest comedies on TV. It was relatable and true-to-life and just plain funny!
It’s the same with Michael Scott of “The Office” He is so inappropriate, so sexist and infantile. Completely about him and nobody else. Yet, he loves his employees, considers them family and surprisingly, as much as he annoys his staff, they all have a soft spot for him.
Credit for making Michael Scott tolerable goes to Steve Carell because this remarkable actor turned a horrific boss into a character you felt for. And sometimes liked!
That’s what happens with great writing. Writing a character with faults; one who isn’t perfect and does unlikeable things, but at the same time, has a heart—and so, you learn to love that character.
I cannot say the same for the character of Emily in Netflix new series “Emily in Paris”
I know. I know. The visuals of the city are spectacular but Emily is the most unlikeable character ever!
Before I go on to say more about this fiasco of a series, please let me say that I love a good comedy. I love a show and a movie with heart. I love a character that becomes iconic. I can’t say that about Emily. In addition, I love a good French comedy.
Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a great French comedy with a bit of drama, might I suggest Dix pour Cent! A well-written show with wonderfully-defined characters. It’s about a Paris talent agency and has lots of great guest stars, intelligent writing and the new season is one I’m patiently awaiting!
So, let’s talk about Emily in Paris. This comedy with a touch of drama takes place in……… (drum roll please) …. Paris! And the main reason we watched the show is because our two trips to France this year were cancelled due to the pandemic. The first, to the Côte d’azur and the second, to Paris for our annual Thanksgiving weekend visit.
Because my husband was taking our cancellation to Paris very sadly—he’s not missed a visit in 50 years, and he’s especially homesick these days, we decided to watch the show because of the recommendations to give it a go.
He’s very homesick. We won’t be hanging out at our favorite location–Place Dauphine this year.
Nor will we enjoy our evening walks across Pont Neuf. I think I took this photo last year…or a few years ago.
And…. we have a guest blogger sitting next to me! Bonaparte himself! My Frenchman. We are both going to give you our opinions of Emily in Paris and then in Part Deux, we’ll give you our recommendations for French movies. So on with the show—or blog!
My Frenchman is assisting me! And I’m getting prepared to write!
The series starts off with a Face-time phone conversation between Emily, played by Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) and Kate Walsh (who gives a cameo that you wish had a bigger part) her boss. Emily’s boss is pregnant and cannot travel to Paris to take a position. And so, she gives Emily the marketing opportunity of a lifetime. To move to the City of Lights.
Paris Real Estate:
My Take: The premise, from the very beginning sounds a bit trite but nevertheless, a good one. There is so much that can be done with this simple story line. But it fails and it fails within moments of Emily arriving in Paris. The cab ride to her new apartment is charming but unlike any ride I’ve ever taken from CDG into Paris Centre. The drive Emily takes happens to showcase major sights and not the realistic trek from the airport.
Not every route into Paris Centre has you passing the Tour Eiffel! I snapped this one last year. In 16 years of visiting Paris, I’ve never been inside the Eiffel Tower. Many drive bys but never inside!
Seriously—a great comedic scene could have taken place as Emily sits in the back of the cab viewing the graffiti-strewn road barriers and buildings on the way into Paris. She could have been stuck in one of those late-morning traffic jams that rival the Long Island Expressway into Manhattan! She could have been shown with a “WTF is this shit?” expression which would have made it hysterically funny for those of us who can remember our exact thoughts as we took at first drive from the airport directly into the City of Lights!
This is the reality of the cab ride from CDG to Paris Centre. Bumper to bumper traffic. It’s not a delightful sight!
The Frenchman agrees with me on this! But he also says that the drive from the airport into most major cities is usually not a very pretty one!
My husband is correct on this one! The drive is not a pretty one. Lots of grafitti and not even good grafitti at that. This could have been a hysterically funny first impression of Paris!
Emily has a fiancé or boyfriend or whatever-he-is who stays back in the states but is supposed to visit her. Within the first 15 minutes of the show they break up. Oh. Gee. This certainly sets the tone of about what it to happen…
My Take: Emily arrives at her apartment building and is walking up what is a seemingly endless staircase. This is true. Many of the buildings in Paris have the hundred-step flights to the apartments—it’s most likely the main reason the French are so skinny! Who needs a gym when you have to schlep up a million stairs? Add to that, many of the buildings have an elevator so small that only two people can fit inside. And those elevators are always breaking. I know this. In all the years we stayed at Daniele’s apartment, the elevator was broken more than it was operating. Daniele lived on the top floor. One of the reasons I wished I lived in Paris was so I could climb stairs instead of dieting.
To be honest with you, I wish I lived in Paris. On the top floor of a building because my pandemic weight gain would be lost within a week after climbing this!
The Frenchman agrees.
My Take: But the best is—there’s a scene where Emily argues with the real estate guy who is escorting her to the apartment. And they argue over the flight. What Emily doesn’t realize is that the first floor isn’t referred to as the first floor. It is the “Rez-de-chaussée”—which is the ground floor. In essence, the second floor is the first floor. Got it?
Emily didn’t quite get it so in her arrogant and entitled way, argued about ridiculous the floors’ reference is. It gets better… The Frenchman also agrees with this.
What also could have been extremely funny here was if they had a sort of “who’s on first” kind of exchange in a comical way as opposed to the know-it-all, self-important way we are getting to know Emily!
Finally, Emily arrives at the apartment—she’s rented a “chambre de bonne” which was formerly the maid’s or house help living space located on the top floor directly under the roof. It can get hot but the views can sometimes be spectacular. But our Emily’s dwelling is a hellalot larger to accommodate her many ensembles and accessories (I’ll get to that later).
My favorite Paris apartment. The one belonging to my husband’s aunt, the actress Daniele Delorme. Let me tell you, she was a popular actress and business woman, owning her production company. This was her modest apartment. It wasn’t large by any means and the space was so well thought out and organized. It makes me wonder how Emily was able to afford a good amount of space on a marketing salary!
His Take: Her chambre de bonne is way too large. Actually, his room when he was a teenager was a chambre de bonne in his family’s apartment. His family had three chambre de bonnes. One was his, and it was the larger one but not nearly as large as Emily’s. His sister had a smaller chambre de bonne.
The view from Emily’s Chambre de bonne…
I prefer the view from Daniele’s chambre and parlor where I can see the Eiffel Tower peeking through the rooftops! It’s got character!
And the real estate guy makes a play for her. Hmmmmmm. How many more Frenchmen will make a pass?
Without giving spoilers in case you want to watch it; I’ll focus on the little nuances and stereotypes that ruined the series for both my Parisien husband and me. But both of us were absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful shots of Paris. Quite honestly, the city of Paris is the best actor in the series. I don’t know who the camera people are for this series but boy, the views of Paris are spectacular! The Frenchman adds: And true! He says it’s almost as well-shot as Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris!
Woody Allen clearly loves Paris and it shows from the way he filmed Midnight in Paris. In all honesty, the visuals from Emily in Paris are just as beautiful.
Emily arrives at her new office. Her boss, Sylvie, played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, is one of the best things about the show. Sylvie is a bitch—and rightly so. She’s also incredibly sexy and it pleases me to no end that her wardrobe is spectacular! She wears very sensual clothing without looking trampy! It’s quite the feat! PLB is also wonderfully bilingual. With a trace of an accent when she’s speaking English, I’m flummoxed as to why my Frenchman, who’s been in the States for 50 years, is still hard to understand! She’s over-the-top in being bitchy to Emily but I can’t blame her. Emily is so arrogant and annoying. And she smokes a lot—even in the office!
Emily’s boss, Sylvie is the ultimate bitch. And she’s deliciously cool and bitchy to go! and her wardrobe is epic!
The one thing about Sylvie that I’m not crazy about is she’s sleeping with her friend’s husband who happens to be a client of hers.
My Take: I love Sylvie but I believe sleeping with a friend’s husband is a no-no. I also think having her huff and puff indoors is ridiculous.
His Take: Nobody smokes in offices anymore. Her affair with her friend’s husband is not common but isn’t unheard of. He said it’s a bit of a stereotype.
The office workers. Bruno Gouery who plays Luc and Samuel Arnold who plays Julien. Both of these guys are there to add well-needed comic relief to an otherwise not so comical series. They aren’t really friends but aren’t enemies either. It will be interesting to see how these characters grow if there is another season.
Luc, who is played by Bruno Gouery has the best line in the series. He tells Emily the French work to live whereas the Americans live to work. It’s true. 200 percent!
Julien, played by Samuel Arnold is likeable but I think he and Luc fall a bit under the cracks.
My Take: Ashley Park plays Mindy Chen who becomes Emily’s best friend. And becomes her best friend faster than you can empty a full bladder! Park is a trained Broadway Tony-Award winning actor and when she does sing in the show you realize that had Broadway not been affected by the pandemic, she would be working where she belongs. The banter between Mindy and Emily is pretty vapid and deeply shallow. I know this because I’m deeply shallow but not vapid. It would have been a lot more interesting if Emily and Mindy had met in, say a boutique where Emily was being arrogant and Mindy approached her as how to not behave. Unfortunately, they met in a park under circumstances that was so forgettable I can’t remember why Mindy even bothered to approach Emily.
Ashley Park as Mindy becomes Emily’s best friend within a minute. Park gets a pass from me because Broadway is closed due to the pandemic. I’m thrilled for her she got a job and she gets to sing. The girl has a great voice. But that hat. For Christ’s sake, learn to wear a hat lower on the head!
His Take: is only comment is that Ashley Parks overacted. A lot. I explained she’s BROADWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
My Take: Oh! I forgot! Emily! Played by Lily Collins. Where do I begin? Lily Collins is cute as a button, I give credit where credit is due. And she’s so freaking skinny—I’m jealous! And she has great hair and eyebrows. And her daddy is Phil Collins (who was better with Genesis than on his own). Sadly, I don’t think she’s a fantastic actor. And I’m confused as to how the character of Emily is so appealing to every Frenchman she meets. I mean, every guy she meets wants to get into her panties—and most of them do. Does she take birth control? Does she make the guys use a condom? Is she playing Russian Roulette with her lady parts to see if she catches an STD?
How much fucking money is Emily making anyway? Chanel bags. Chanel coats! It is very upsetting to me. Not because Coco was a Nazi sympathizer, but because I think City Pharma on Rue du Four is a better place to go shopping. Maybe she took euros from all those men she did the bouncy-bouncy with!
Seriously. If the writers of this show had one iota of true comic understanding, they wouldhave showcased Emily going into CityPharma on Rue du Four during it’s most crowded time–which is basically always. It’s the greatest shop for all things skincare and health wise. I live for this place! Screw Chanel. My money goes to CityPharma!
Emily’s wardrobe is also cause for wonder. She’s in her twenties and her wardrobe is worth a fortune. Countless Chanel bags. A few Chanel jackets. It is so ridiculously unrealistic. And don’t even get me started on the way she wears a beret! Splayed across her head like a flattened crepe! WTF does that? Nobody in Paris—that’s who. The heels she wears—I’ll tell you this much. Paris is chock-full of cobblestone streets. Most of us would fall and break our leg or arm or neck walking around in the shoes that Emily does. Let me tell you something. The working women in Paris dress down more than dress up. They save dress up for date nights, weddings, and other social events but when it comes to office attire, the men dress more than the women do.
I cannot get this visual out of my mind–and it isn’t in a good way. WTF wears a beret placed atop her head like a crepe? Emily does and she looks like an imbecile!
Note to Emily. This is how you wear a beret. Worn down low on the head. My mother was obsessed with berets when I was a child and I wore them constantly….
Even my daughter, Oona, wore a beret better when she was a year old!
Emily’s personality does feed into the Ugly American stereotype though. She’s so stinking arrogant. I’ve witnessed bad behavior like hers many times and it is an embarrassment.
Why didn’t the company she works for set her up for an immersion course in the French language? Do the writers of this show not know that this could have been hysterically funny? The French language isn’t easy to master. Lord knows I’ve had my share of mistakes.
Learn the bsics of the language!
True story: The word “vite” in French means “quickly”. One day while my husband and I were walking in Paris I was walking rather fast and was motioning for him to quickly come to me. I said “Ici” “Bite!” Rather than say “Here. Quickly”, I said “Here! Cock!” and I was a bit loud and my husband was mortified and told me I used the wrong word. Something like this could have been very funny.
His Take: He finds Emily totally unattractive and wishes a nice-looking, more approachable American girl would have been cast instead.
My Take: Gabriel, played by Lucas Bravo. First of all, this guy, Lucas Bravo is eye candy. He’s even better looking than Thomas Dutronc—and that’s good looking! He’s model material. Gabriel is Emily’s neighbor. He’s a chef. And naturally, he does the bouncy-bouncy with Emily even though he has a girlfriend and Emily is friends with his girlfriend! Again, the horny stereotype comes into play.
Take a look. There’s nothing more to say about Gabriel the eye candy!
What could have been great comedy would have been if the two of them had a flirtatious repartee between the two of them. The French love to flirt. And they are great at it. That innuendo and repartee is epic and this show missed such a great opportunity! Merde!
His Take: Lucas Bravo is so handsome it is very unlikely he would fall for someone like Emily! At that age, these things like the cheating happen. What he really finds confounding is that Bravo is far too handsome to fall for Emily!
My Take: The constant smoking and smoking indoors. As mentioned above, yeah. The French still smoke but so do Americans. People in my office building that smoke spend more work time outdoors on cigarette breaks than they do in their cubicles. I’ve seen many a Frenchman and woman standing outside the Microsoft building in Issy-les-Moulineaux huffing and puffing on those cigs as though their lives depended on every bit of nicotine they could stuff into their lungs. But they don’t smoke indoors (unless it’s in their homes). And that could actually be a funny thing—bringing up the time spent outdoors smoking as opposed to working.
At least they smoke outdoors these days–but truthfully, come to an American workplace and have a look-see at the “workers” *cough* on cigarette breaks. They smoke more than they work. I know this. I witness it all day long!
The horny Frenchmen. Please allow me to discuss this. This show makes Frenchmen look as though they only want entrance into the love cottage of we women—or rather Emily, and nothing more. Fact is, Frenchmen love the ladies. They respect women in a way that American and men in other cultures do not. The Frenchman will get to know a woman first. He looks for signs of intelligence in a woman. He will be critical and let his woman know what he likes on her—her hair, shoes, etc.
Emily in Paris seems to equate Frenchmen with the horniness level of Pepe Le Pew! And every single one of them want to get into Emily’s panties!
Now this aspect could be a very humorous one—given the fact that it took a while to get used to my own husband’s opinions on what he likes and especially dislikes on me. Let’s just say we’ve had some rather saucy conversations! In addition, some Frenchmen enjoy a bit of meat on their women. I’m blessed!
His Take: Agreed with me.
My Take: The loud American who smiles a lot. Okay. This is true and this stereotype is not showcased enough on the show. Mind you, I’m not talking about arrogance. I’m talking about LOUD! And the constant smiling.
Emily is told she’s loud. I’m greatly confused by this because the writers on this show have absolutely no idea what loud really is. Growing up in a family of five siblings, we needed to shout to be heard! Add to the fact we are New Yawkas, we can shatter a glass with our high-pitched loud! My husband is still, 16 years later, not used to my loudness! At approximately three weeks before our visits not only to Paris but throughout France, he begins to suggest I speak in my indoor voice—which, essentially is still loud—and then he asks me to speak in my whisper voice. Because my whisper voice is basically a normal tone of voice for other people.
NEITHER CAN I BUDDY! NEITHER CAN I!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, in reality, the writers could have had a freaking field day with the loud American aspect—a stereotype that is definitely true.
The smiling American. Yeah. Americans smile to your face then stab you in the back. Happens all the time! (In my case, I have a RBF, Resting Bitch Face. I don’t smile at people unless I know them). The writers could have had an enormous bunch of fun with this. Smiling then backstabbing. Damn. I should have been a writer for this show!
His Take: On the smiling—true! 100 percent! French people do not smile unless they have a reason to smile. They can be very polite and respectful and not smile about it. He feels the same about the loudness. He’s especially surprised at how loud Americans are in restaurants!
Do the French Really Hate Americans?
My Take: French people hate Americans and are mean to them. Not true. Not true at all. In all the years I’ve been traveling to France with my husband—and especially Paris, I’ve never come across anyone being remotely mean or hostile to me with one exception. We were in Nimes and stopped at a café for a soda. The waiter, who must’ve been getting ready for the dinner crowd was a real dick. He was nasty and miserable. All he had to do was explain, in French to my husband that it was a bit late for a beverage because they were setting up for dinner and it would have been fine. But my take was this guy was miserable to everyone—not just us.
But more on this. The first time I had the experience of using the French language, I purchased flowers for my husband’s aunt as a thank you for allowing us to stay with her. I ordered a dozen white roses, in French and the proprietor was incredibly nice to me—especially when I had a hard time figuring out the money. He very patiently went over the correct way to say the currency and was just tremendously helpful. Another time I got “lost” when my husband, his aunt and I went to market. A man selling olives got the best of me and we were enjoying some flirtatiousness and olives. They finally found me and to this day The Olive Man is a running joke.
In the South of France, we were at an Abbaye. Afterwards, we stopped at an outdoor café and I ordered everything in French. Across from us was a Frenchman and his dog. I’m loud and he heard me. He excused himself and gave me his critique on my French—he was so nice about it and it made my husband very happy.
Another time we were driving to St. Tropez and stopped to get gas and snacks. In the shop area, the cashier was a teenaged guy. He heard me (loud again) speaking to my husband and when we paid for our goods, he looked at me and said so cutely “Have…. A…. Good…Day!” OMG. He was so proud and adorable I wanted to hug him. I gave him a thumbs up and to this day it is one of my favorite encounters!
So yeah. If you make an effort to be polite and make an attempt to speak the language, no matter how challenged in French you are, you will be treated respectfully! Don’t confuse being reserved and slightly aloof with hatred. It’s just not true.
His Take: He agrees with me. It’s not because the French don’t smile at you that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. OK? The French express politeness with words more than facial expressions but they don’t hate Americans at all. They find Americans loud and think the American idea that the French should all speak English is arrogant but nothing to hate over.
My Final Thoughts: Although the exterior shots of Paris are visually stunning. I don’t like the show. It was created by Darren Star—he also created Sex and the City. I never watched SATC because having lived as a single woman in NYC, I couldn’t relate to it. Trust me, we all had our trampy moments but overall, we were too busy working to pay the expensive rents and utilities to stay in our apartments. And we had fun with our friends. Lots of parties and dinners and brunches and all had a capsule wardrobe due to lack of closet space.
What really bothers me about this show is it could have been so much better. Star could have made Emily more likeable in two ways. The first by casting someone different. Chloe Moretz would have made an epic Emily because she’s got an edge to her and I think that’s what Emily needed. Margo Robbie, at age 30 IRL, could have been a wonderful Emily because in her position as a marketing ace, she would have been more believable add to the fact she’s so pretty you could see why every guy in Paris wanted to take her panties off!
Margot Robbie could have made a great Emily. Even though she’s Australian, she’s sooooo All-American looking. I could get why guys want to be with her…
Had Chloe Moretz been cast as Emily it would have given the character a more edgy vibe and a bit more snark but in a good way.
But it’s also the writing. Here you have the greatest opportunity to have a young woman in Paris to live. She’s away from her family. Doesn’t know a soul, and more realistically isn’t making a ton of money. She can learn to have style from observing the French women. She can focus on errors made while learning the language. She can turn the every-day mundane existence into something funny. And her character could be likeable if a lonely side or vulnerable side was showcased.
It’s not a show I would like to see having a second season.
His Take: He did not dislike the show as much as I did. Some of the stereotypes described have value—such as the smiling for no reason and the loudness. But overall, he really could not stand Lily Collins as Emily! Oh, la lalalalalala!
Stay tuned for Part Deux where we recommend TV shows and Movies!
Stay tuned for Part Deux and our recommendations! And I promise I will take the beret off!