Emily in Paris is the new Netflix Original series starring Lily Collins as Emily, an ambitious twenty-something marketing executive from Chicago, who unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing company, Saviour. From showrunner Darren Star, the series offers up the beauty of Paris, fashion, and more, all through the lens of a Millenial who is experiencing the City of Lights for the first time.
In Emily in Paris, Emily is uprooted her life and takes on the mammoth task of revamping their social media strategy. Emily has a Masters in marketing and strong social media acumen. We get to see her as she single-handedly reshapes Saviour from a traditional marketing firm that refuses to use influencers or social media into a firm that is working with the creme of the crop. The best part about this series is that Emily’s new life in Paris is filled with intoxicating adventures that equal the surprising challenges as she juggles winning over her work colleagues, making friends, and navigating new romances.
Now, in theme and fashion sense, Emily in Paris has clear nods to The Devil Wears Prada. But while this series obviously pulls inspiration in from the iconic film, with Emily as a new employee looking to make a career and Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) as the mean boss who refuses to understand her, it deviates sharply. This isn’t a series about a woman finding confidence and transforming herself to fit other standards, no. This is a story about a woman who knows her worth, her skill, and even when heartbreak hits, keeps moving forward.
While there are classic romanticly comedic elements and love triangles sprinkled throughout the series, the heart of Emily in Paris is about watching Emily overcome the obstacles in her way by embracing her intellect and always believing that she is the subject matter expert in the room, even when the old guard of marketing puts her down. This is something that marks the series as different. Most series that deal with women and their careers or moving away from home is centered on the question; “Am I enough?” But, instead, we see a story where Emily shapes the world around her, while also knowing her own limitations on where to listen and learn. As a protagonist, Emily is remarkable. She’s independent. She’s fierce. And even when she’s anxious, she continues to bet on herself.
Additionally, the friendships in Emily in Paris are examples of female friendship that pushes back the “catty” stereotype even when love interests intersect. But, the best relationship of the entire series is that between Emily and Mindy. An heiress to a rich Chinese family, Mindy (Ashley Park) has cast aside her parent’s expectations and paved her path in Paris as an au pair. But, she has other dreams. It is this piece that makes their friendship more than the one typically shown on screen. Usually, the protagonist’s story is central, which means the best friend exists to push her forward, to help her reach her dreams, and ultimately ends up being one-note.
While this is especially true for women of color cast in a best friend role in a series like this, Emily in Paris doesn’t rely on the best friend trope. In fact, Emily is a great character, not just because she is successful and funny. Emily is a great character because she supports those around her and pushes Mindy into her dreams, just as much as she relies on Mindy to push her on the path to hers. This is what helps to ground her, and ultimately is just one way that Emily shows that she cares for the people around her. Plus, Mindy has her own episode where we get to see her with her friends from home who also help subvert what you expect from representations of female friendships on screen.
The only issue I have with the series is that it embraces some of the romantic elements that it tries to subvert in a way that while they don’t hurt Emily’s character’s growth, can cause an unnecessary mess if the series gets renewed for a season two. The only fault in the show is its ending and my worry of it’s final twist hurting Emily as a character.
Beyond the relationships throughout the series, Emily in Paris is also sure to be a fan favorite because of the sheer amount of fashion. From high fashion to streetwear and office attire that I can’t imagine any person wearing in real life, there are so many different examples of fashion that will inspire your next online shopping trip. The ability of the series’ costumers to fit every character in the series in ways that fit their personalities, growth and showcase where they fit in Paris is unmatched. From the account managers at Saviour who breathe high fashion to the chef who wears a biker jacket over a band-tee to an art gallery opening and the black dress, Emily wears to the ballet, every outfit in the series hits differently for each character.
Finally, the cleverest thing that Emily in Paris does is integrating social media into the series. While this isn’t a new element, it is a piece of exposition that can easily overwhelm the frames and detract from the narrative. That said, the way this series utilizes social media flows naturally with its storytelling. Emily understands influencer marketing and social media better than most of those around her. The writers avoid making her the stereotypical Instagram model and instead, use her personal account, @EmilyInParis, to explore concepts of social media marketing that while expository, also adds to the depth of her character. Does she take selfies? Yes. But, when she does, the audience understands why and how she is able to grow her personal brand and work on others. By looking at social media as a lens to view the world, the series pays respect to it as a tool, something that isn’t always done when we see social media integrated into a series or film’s storytelling.
Overall, Emily in Paris is a series that blends rom-com drama, feel-good plot points, and always shows its protagonist as capable, even when others don’t believe in her. As Emily, Collins is radiant, not just in her beauty, but in her character’s ambition and determination as well. This series more than deserves a second season and with how it ends, I hope it gets it. Equal parts The Devil Wears Prada and Sex in the City, this series pulls the best of those titles while avoiding the worst well.
Emily in Paris is streaming exclusively on Netflix, October 2, 2020.
Emily in Paris
Emily in Paris is a series that blends rom com drama, feel-good plot points, and always shows its protagonist as capable, even when others don’t believe in her. As Emily, Collins is radiant, not just in her beauty, but in her character’s ambition and determination as well. This series more than deserves a second season and with how it ends, I hope it gets it. Equal parts The Devil Wears Prada and Sex in the City, this series pulls the best of those titles while avoiding the worst well.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.