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Emily In Paris - Season 1 Review - It's Supposed to Be This Much Fun

 

Disclaimer: I am not only Emily in Paris’s target audience; I am the bullseye of that target. 

When Younger creator Darren Star’s latest confection landed on Netflix, there was a good deal of giggling and skepticism. People simply could not believe how unrealistic it was or how silly it was. How I longed for Younger to be on Netflix as well so people could enjoy both shows. I was charmed by Emily in Paris, because the show was made for me and my particular kind of Parisian admirer. We don’t remember when we decided Paris was the City of ALL THAT (love, lights, dreams, fashion, food, etc), but it was at a relatively young age. We have at least two pieces of Marie (from Aristocats) merchandise, we own berets (plural!), we listen to the Ratatouille soundtrack weekly, we go out of our way to buy fresh croissants, we went with Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, and we know we’ll likely never be able to go there ourselves. Our romantic devotion to our idea of Paris is undoubtedly ringard, but perhaps there’s a good deal of truth to what Emily (Lily Collins) tells Pierre Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet): without us, would Paris still carry the mystique it does? Emily in Paris is the stuff of our pink and black checkered fantasies, and it is almost always perfectly delightfully silly. 



Leading lady Lily Collins, charming in all caps, wouldn’t be caught dead with an Instagram as dorky as Emily Cooper’s, but Emily’s ‘gram is dangerously close to what a first-time Insta user could have posted a decade ago or so. Does it make any sense that her social media is utterly basic, lacking any real artistic sensibility, when it’s supposed to be a huge part of what she does for a living? It does not, and shhhhh we’re not going to examine it too closely. We’re here to see Paris, to live vicariously through Emily’s many, many strolls through gorgeous Parisian streets in her absolutely chic wardrobe. Does there even need to be a plot? Since not all rules are made to be broken, Emily in Paris does begrudgingly fit in a few lighthearted dilemmas to challenge our heroine. (My favorite of which was the catastrophe at the charity auction!).


After the briefest of Kate Walsh cameos, Emily has arrived in France, left behind her boring boyfriend, been hit on by her realtor, found herself in a room with A VIEW, and met her downstairs neighbor Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) who is so hot he melts the brain and just about every other organ. How on earth will the show keep Emily from picking up what he’s serving? (Not long at all, because he’s a chef, and a girl’s gotta eat and also take showers!). Emily also makes two friends in Paris, a number that is perhaps one of the show’s more realistic touches. Ashley Park’s Mindy Chen is easily a standout among the show’s characters, making it positively exciting that she moves in with Emily at the season’s end. I have high hopes the show will set her up as more of a co-lead for its second outing. Emily’s other friend is Camille (Camille Razat) who exists solely as an obstacle to Emily hooking up with Gabriel. I’m quite curious what the show has planned for Camille; they dropped some hints that she might find a more eligible love interest in the extremely dashing Mathieu (Charles Martins), and I’m all for it. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that Emily’s immediate circle includes a perfumer, a champagne maker, a fashion designer, a musical artist, and a chef! 


The closest thing the show has to conflict is the chill between Emily and her boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), the requisite glamorous power woman who couldn’t scorn Emily any more casually if she tried. I won’t compare Sylvie to other characters of her type, because there can never be too many. Her disdain for Emily is supremely complicated when their client Antoine (William Abadie) strikes up a flirtation with the American. You see...Sylvie is the married Antoine’s mistress! Emily is SHOOK to discover this, as if she fell straight out the pages of an 1800s Victorian novel for young ladies. Surprisingly, nothing too dramatic comes of this, although Sylvie and Antoine have a slight falling out when his wife hijacks a vacation he was going to take Sylvie on. (Mon dieu!). Things don’t get actually messy until the season finale when Antoine’s wife (whose name I did not bother to learn, but also I was expecting all season it would be revealed she and Antoine were the parents of the children Mindy was watching) tells Emily she approves of her as Antoine’s new mistress. (Insert tea-spitting gif!). 


Nearly the entire show is a delight. Does it break the mold? It most certainly does not, but give me all of it! Emily pining on her balcony! Emily pining on someone else’s balcony! Not one but two weak Ratatouille jokes. That’s okay! Emily saying “She’s not supposed to be that much fun; she’s voicing Mother Goose in a Pixar movie!” about an actress she’s babysitting. Oui! The show signaling that Sylvie and Emily are on their way to being teammates by giving them coordinating checkered plaid outfit pieces at a crucial moment! Yes I am here for that too. Antoine’s unexpectedly thoughtful admission to Gabriel that he understands why Gabriel couldn’t accept Camille’s family money. The complicated bromance I need, particularly since this leads to Gabriel staying in Paris so he and Emily can constantly exchange needlessly futile longing glances. Do I hope that the show gets a little sharper with its relationships and plot turns? Yes, I hope for that too. Do I expect it to come anywhere close to the miracle of TV perfection that is Younger? Nope. However, I do expect it to grow and improve as that show did.


Emily in Paris may have some baggage, and it may drag it up several flights of stairs but at the top it’s got everything we want to see. It says something that the scene that impacted me the most was Mindy breaking into song for Emily; there’s a really special friendship there that could be absolute gold if the show mined it, and my second season wish is they won’t take that magic for granted. 

P.S. Perfectly enough, Ashley Park is voicing Colette in the TikTok-created musical Ratatouille being performed New Year’s Day to benefit The Actor’s Fund.