Emily in Paris is as deep as a puddle. It feels like a shallow, American amusement park ride version of the famed French city, complete with expensive costumes, elaborate set pieces and a few well-produced songs to round out the experience. Though critics have lampooned the show for its superficiality, there is something bewitching about the series — a certain “je ne sais quoi” that has hooked audiences around the globe since Season 1 premiered in 2020. To be sure, Emily in Paris doesn’t pretend that it’s prestige television, and it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, it’s a show meant to enjoy like a dessert. Sure, it’s pretty to look at and full of empty calories, but Emily in Paris puts its viewers in a good mood, which is all fans want from this delightfully surface-level series.
Emily in Paris follows a naive young woman from Chicago who travels to Paris to work as a marketing executive at a high-end French ad agency. Its storylines are simple and straightforward, making it near impossible for viewers of Emily in Paris to get lost in the plot because of how formulaic and predictable the story threads are. Each episode features a basic, easy-to-follow narrative that viewers don’t have to pay attention to in order to understand what’s going on. As a result, Emily in Paris is a shallow, cotton-candy-sweet visual feast for the digital age — a show simultaneously beloved and reviled for its lack of depth.
The hit Netflix series is a fluffy, guilty pleasure of a show with little to no stakes. Nevertheless, that is the exact reason why people love Emily in Paris so much. It’s a form of junk food background noise that audiences don’t have to engage with to enjoy fully. It’s silly and unrealistic, making for a captivating “hate-watch” for viewers who crave something carefree and disposable to fill their vacant hours with. Gone are the days where binge-watching a show means dissecting the plot and analyzing every frame for hidden meaning or hard-to-miss details. Instead, welcome yourself to the age of Emily, where hollow pageantry, over-the-top fashion, attractive actors and charming Parisien backdrops cover for lack of narrative substance.
For better or worse, “ambient TV” is rising in rank. People want to be distracted by something light and fun during their downtime, especially nowadays, considering the current state of the world. Emily in Paris is so successful because it’s an uncomplicated escapist treat about romance, career fulfillment and pursuing new experiences. There is something comforting about what’s familiar, which is another reason why people like the show’s tried-and-true formula so much. It’s also passive and undemanding to boot, making it an easy watch for people who find it hard to put down their phones and pay attention. Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons why people hate Emily in Paris, too. Critics have slammed the series’ inescapable American gaze, trite characters, dated stereotypes of French life and culture, as well as its hopelessly rose-colored, fairytale view of the “City of Love.”
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