Is ‘Emily in Paris’ Accurate? Part 2Reading Time: 9 minutes
7 Things ‘Emily in Paris’ Got Wrong
‘Emily in Paris’, the latest Darren Star creation on Netflix is all the craze right now – and I bet that by now you’ve checked it out! So, are you wondering how true (or untrue) to real life the show is for American’s living in Paris? How did the show actually overlook the realities of life in Paris, French culture, or the expat experience?
Despite the show nailing a few key notions about life in the City of Love, which you can read here, ‘Emily in Paris’ likewise failed to accurately display certain aspects of Parisian culture and the Expat perception. Wether these things were heightened or neglected for dramatic reasons or simply because of the limitations of a 20 minute TV series, this critique will hopefully give you an insight into what blunders to look out for in ‘Emily in Paris’.
Here are 7 things ‘Emily in Paris’ got wrong. Plus – read to the bottom where I give you a list and google map of all the fun spots Emily visits throughout the show!
** BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD! **
1. Everyday Parisian Fashion
It’s true that Paris is the fashion capital of the world, but it was upsetting to see Emily showing off her naval in countless scenes in the show. She arrives in a crop top, we see her naval on her morning jogs, and she even goes to work on an occasion of two strutting bare skin! You would be torn apart in the streets of Paris and a target for male harassment if you dressed as Emily does in the show!
Another obvious misconceptions is that Parisians go to work each day dressed to the nines accompanied with stilettos. People who have never lived in Paris may think that’s how the locals dress, but let me emphasize that Parisian’s walk – A LOT. Walking is a way of life in Paris. Must I also mention that Parisian streets are filled with uneven pavement and that oh-so-charming but less practical cobblestone? Not to mention that Paris is filled with stairs – building stairs, metro stairs, street stairs – they are literally everywhere! Even Emily, who lives on the 5th floor of her building doesn’t have the luxury of an elevator, as is true in many old Parisian buildings.
So, unless you’re rich enough to own a car (and a parking space for that matter) or pay for a taxi to chauffeur you around everyday, heels just don’t fly in Paris from a practical sense! Parisians opt for the more efficient white sneakers or classic black flats. In the winter, you’ll see more boots and in the spring, sandals. Parisians save the heels for Fashion Week or evenings out on the town.
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2. Only Showing the Impeccable Spots in Paris
I loved that ‘Emily in Paris’ showcases Paris in a beautiful light, but that’s not to say that all of Paris is impeccable, spotless and perfect. There are less desirable gritty and grungy spots and neighborhoods that are just as much a part of the city as the Instagrammable parts. Paris encompasses urban, unglamorous buildings and streets, and without showing this side, the show is really missing out on a vital piece that makes Paris who she is.
Like the diverse features of the city, I didn’t see much diversity in the cast either. For the most part, everyone is pretty and mostly white. I hope that season 2 brings more diversity and color not just to the city scapes, but also to the faces on screen to show the international nature of where we are.
Other posts you might enjoy:
Discover and embrace these 10 Secret French Lifestyle Rules Revealed
Explore the highlights of the city in this Paris 101: Landmarks & Monuments blog post
To find out more about me, your Paris concierge, you can read my blog post Why I moved to Paris
6 Mistakes Expats in Paris Want You to Avoid for the best advice on how to live in Paris
3. The Distaste of Americans by the French
Ok, so not all French people love and adore their American counterparts (some honestly do), but they don’t necessarily hate us either. ‘Emily in Paris’ displays a harsh disdain for Americans that I found was slightly misleading. In some instances, the French think they are arrogantly superior to Americans and that they do things better and with more class. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the portrayal of the French attitude is that mean.
Emily’s building concierge yells at her, the florist refuses to sell her the nice flowers because she doesn’t speak English, and a client audaciously calls her ringarde to her face (or fashionless prick). They can be rude at times, even quietly annoyed, but the nasty attitude from the mean French people in the show, including Emily’s boss, Sylvie, towards her is just plain mean. The show really played up the stereotype that the French hate Americans, which isn’t necessarily true. These character traits were exaggerated for the narrative purposes to build drama and tension. In fact, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the world were French – so don’t believe everything you hear about them. They just may surprise you if you get to know them a little (and warm up to you if you’re lucky).
4. The French Workplace Culture
‘Emily in Paris’ hilariously overdoes the French workplace conduct. Let’s see – the fact that the marketing agency doesn’t start work until 10:30 AM (which had me LOL, to be honest), to the instruction that, ‘you don’t talk about work at a work party’, to boss Sylvie candidly smoking in her office during business hours – I have to call BS on all these, but with a wink. These workplace behaviors may not be completely true, but the show uses these assumption to play up the drama in a fun way.
Yes, work starts later in France, usually 9:30 or 10 AM but 10:30 AM is a bit overblown from reality. If the show makes the French look lazy, I would argue that it’s probably from their reputation of loving les vacances, but this helps them be super productive in return. And French people love to talk about work when they are at any party, for work or otherwise. They especially love gossiping about the latest office flings and workplace blunders. As far as smoking in the office like when Sylvie lights up a cigarette in Episode 4, I have seen people smoke inside (smoke detectors don’t exist in France – jk), but not exactly during actual business hours. The thing to remember is that some of these cues are written in simply to heighten the tension and should be taken with a grain of salt.
5. Notion of Commitment
I have to defend the French on this one cause I don’t think that they live up to the reputation of being noncommittal and/or cheaters. I mean cheating partners exists everywhere in the world. Why the French are known for it more than others probably comes from an old cliché, or it has something to do with their understanding and acceptance of romantic commitment and marriage.
For one, I think the French are less inclined to get married than their American counterparts, they often times bunker down to have kids then later consider marriage as an nice extra. I think that their delayed response to marriage or unwillingness to marry doesn’t work in their interest when it comes to American’s seeing them as cheaters. In my experience French boys, friends and couples are often times extremely committed to their significant other, but the way they see it is, they don’t have to have a contract to show that commitment. Yes, French men and women cheat, but so do Americans and I’m sure every other nationality… I’m also certain that French women do not accept their partners cheating on them more than anyone else would as is implied with Antoine’s wife complying with his love affair with Emily’s boss throughout season 1.
For more insider secrets check out:
Where to stay in Paris: Insider Secrets to book Luxury Apartments to discover alternatives to booking luxury hotels.
6. Size of Parisian Apartments
The perception of Parisian apartments really pissed me off. In Episode 1 when the real estate agent hands Emily her keys and explains to her that she’s living in a chambre de bonne, or maids quarters, I yelled at the TV “That’s no chambre de bonne!”. The concept that Emily’s apartment is a tiny 10 meters squared (107 sq ft) of living space (which many Parisians do actually endure living in for years with cheap rent) was just false! Real chambres de bonne apartments are tiny rooms with enough space to fit a sink, a bed and a shower – the toilet is out in the hallway and shared with the other tenants on the floor.
I wish that the show demonstrated the reality of tiny apartments in Paris a little more. But who knows, maybe they will play this up in Season 2 with Mindy moving in with Emily in the finale (I told you there were spoilers!).
7. Social Media Following/IG Influencer Culture
Lastly, the reality of Emily gaining a following of over 10K in a matter of weeks just by the fact that she’s posting silly pictures of Paris with witty hashtags is a big dud! Ok, I get it, for the sake of the show, she has to go from a nobody to a somebody – this is all part of her character arc and the story narrative, but come on! I mean, this was really exaggerated. I would say that the show got this one way off, but we’ll let it slide for Emily’s sake cause – let’s be real, aren’t we all a little curious to see if Emily will redeem her working relationship with Sylvie in season 2 or if she will gain a frenemy in Camille in exchange for winning over Gabriel’s heart?? There are just some narrative elements we’re all willing to overlook for the sake of binge-worthy comedies!
Despite the show’s exaggeration and sometimes failure to accurately portray life in Paris and the clash of cultures, I would say that the show didn’t flop either. The show isn’t perfect, but it’s pas mal, not bad (in a good way)! It’s actually very fun to watch, especially if you live in Paris. As we all know, no piece of work can satisfy everyone’s tastes or be true to everyone’s experience. Nonetheless, I am excited for season 2!
In my first critique of ‘Emily in Paris’ with the 7 things the show got right, I am amused, entrained and delightfully surprised. The show is fun and a nice gift for a 2020 that has been merde !
If you plan to come to Paris in 2021, you can always contact me for your very own personal itinerary so, you too, can have a fun, stress-free, sophisticated adventure like ‘Emily in Paris’!
Jardin du Palais Royale
The garden where Emily meets Mindy
Place de l’Estrapade
The neighborhood where Emily lives and the address of the restaurant where Gabriel works at
La Boulangerie Moderne
The French bakery where Emily tries her first pain au chocolate and later frequents
Marché des Enfants Rouge
The open-air-market where Camille and Emily explore
Place de Valois
The location of her office for Savoir
Le Grand Véfour
The Michelin-Star restaurant where Emily tries and fails to get a dinner reservation for her work client
Café de L’homme
The venue that overlooks the view of the Eiffel Tower where the work party is held for Savoir’s client L’heure
Emily stands in front of the Panthéon as her boyfriend breaks up with her
Where Emily attends the influencer’s lunch held my Durée
That same Durée event overlooks the Place Vendôme from Hôtel D’Évreux
Passage Du Grand Cerf
The covered passage where Emily enjoys a night out on the town with Camille and Gabriel
Emily strolls down with Camille and Gabriel at night
Atelier des Lumières
The art center where Camille takes Emily and Gabriel for an interactive art exhibition of Van Gogh
La Maison Rose
The lovely cafe in Montmartre where Emily and Mindy eat
Rue de L’Abreuvoir
The charming street in Montmartre where Emily ends up posing with a bed for a marketing stunt for one of her clients
The beautiful basilica where Emily poses for her IG pics
Colonnes de Buren
The elegant square where Emily and Mindy pose for IG pics
The famous red windmill where Emily and Mindy pose for IG pics
Eiffel Tower carousel
The colorful carousel Emily and Mindy pose in front of for IG pics
Café de Flore
Emily meets Thomas, the intellectual and fling here
Canal Saint Martin Neighborhood
The neighborhood where Emily goes on a double-date with Camille and Gabriel
Place Saint George
Emily walks around this very pleasant area in an episode holding Starbucks
Where Emily sees the show Swan Lake and tries to win over a client
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
The hotel that the American star, Brooklyn, stays at
Season 1 Episodes
1. Emily in Paris
2. Masculin Féminin
3. Sexy or Sexist
4. A Kiss Is Just A Kiss
5. Faux amis
7. French Ending
8. Family Affair
9. An American Auction in Paris
10. Cancel Couture