‘Emily in Paris’: Why It’s So Hard To Admit Love for the Show Despite It Being So Popular

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A fish-out-of-water comedy about a straight-laced North American marketing exec seconded to a louche Paris office, Emily in Paris was created by Darren Star, who is also responsible for Beverley Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Sex and the City. Star Lily Collins is a well-established Hollywood leading lady, sidekick Ashley Park has a Tony nomination and Emily’s nemesis is played by the respected French actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieau.

Make no mistake, this is high-budget, prestige programming for Netflix and the show is popular. It was watched by 58 million households in the month after its debut in 2020 and remained in the UK top 10 list for 40 consecutive days. The third series is expected to also draw high viewing figures.

Despite its popularity, Emily in Paris is the show we love to hate. We enjoy it in secret, worried people might think badly of us. I have a couple of theories why many feel like they can’t openly express love for it.

Emily in Paris is a romantic comedy-drama, a genre that has historically been critically dismissed for a lack of seriousness and for primarily catering to female audiences. That’s not been such a problem for the similarly frothy Bridgerton, with which Emily in Paris has garnered comparisons.

Perhaps Bridgeton eschews the same sort of criticism because it focuses on female empowerment or because it reinvigorates the historical romance through devices such as colour-blind casting and anachronistic music. Bridgerton avoids tired and familiar tropes, whereas Emily in Paris trades – absolutely, undeniably and no doubt intentionally – in clichés.

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