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Primetime Picks… 10/2/20

Oct 02 Posted by in Features | Comments

Early this morning Netflix dropped the first season of the hilarious new comedy Emily in Paris, from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. Emily Cooper (Lily Collins, Les Misérables) loves working at the the Chicago-based Gilbert Group marketing firm. She is great at her job and is looking forward to a promotion. The company has just acquired the small French marketing firm Savoir Paris, and Emily’s boss Madeline (Kate Walsh, Grey’s Anatomy) is about to move to France for a year to handle the transition. However an unexpected personal situation changes her plans and, despite the fact that she doesn’t speak French, Emily is the one sent off to Paris instead. While Emily is excited for this one in a lifetime opportunity, her longtime boyfriend Doug (Roe Hartrampf, Madam Secretary) isn’t too pleased with the idea of a long-distance relationship.

As Emily arrives in France, she quickly falls in love with the beautiful sights and delicious food of her new locale. However, there is also a bit of a language barrier, and some surprising differences in the French culture and attitudes towards sex, work hours, and relationships. When Emily makes her way to the Savoir office, she quickly discovers that her time there is going to be an uphill battle. Everyone seems to have preconceived notions of and biases towards Americans. Her boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Mirage) couldn’t be any less enthused to meet her. She was expecting someone more cultured who could speak French. Savoir’s client portfolio includes high fashion and luxury brands, but Emily’s experience is in working on campaigns for pharmaceuticals and products for geriatric care facilities. Sylvie doesn’t see how she can help with important client Antoine Lambert (William Abadie, The Con is On), the top nose and head perfumer of a luxury fragrance company.

Emily’s talents lie in social media, and upon her arrival in Paris, she creates her @emilyinparis Instagram account to post about her experiences during her first trip out of the country. Emily was brought in to Savoir to help add social media and an American perspective to its client’s campaigns. However, Sylvie and the others have their doubts about this—and Emily doesn’t really make a good first impression when she when she suggests on her first day in the office that her French coworkers and her both have things they could learn from one another. Emily’s new coworkers, Julien (Samuel Arnold) and Luc (Bruno Gouery), don’t really give her the time of day, avoid her at lunchtime, and even give her the nickname of “The Hick”. The office culture at Savoir is also quite different from what Emily’s used to—some of the talk, discussions and client/employee relationships are not very PC, would be considered harassment, and get people fired in the U.S., but in France people seem to have a very different, more open way of life.

Luckily for Emily, she seems to make friends more easily outside of the office. While walking in the park, she meets Mindy Chen (Ashley Park, Tales of the City), who moved to Paris about a year earlier from Shanghai. Mindy’s father, “The Zipper King”, wants her to get married and work in the lucrative family business, but Mindy wants to be a singer. However, she currently works as a nanny and Mandarin tutor for a pair of spoiled children. Mindy quickly becomes the person Emily can vent to when she gets frustrated about work and the oddities of French culture in general, since Mindy can relate as a fellow outsider. Emily also becomes fast friends with art curator Camille (Camille Razat), after a brief meeting at a flower market, but that friendship becomes a little complicated.

Paris is the City of Love, and there seems to be no shortage of attractive men vying for Emily’s affections, some welcome, and some not so much. On her first day in Paris, Emily has an accidental meet-cute with downstairs neighbor/chef Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) when she gets confused by the floor numbering schemes of old Paris buildings. It seems that wherever she goes, there’s always some hot new guy drawn to Emily—whether that be a potential client, or just a fellow patron at a cafe. However, the men in Paris are much more forward about their intentions, which can be a little surprising at times for Emily.

I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious and entertaining series—it definitely has all the usual markings of a Darren Star comed, with quirky characters and relationships, sexy and sometimes awkward sexual situations, witty writing, and lots of humor, and also adds a fun fish-out-of-water element into the mix. Lily Collins is so delightful as the always upbeat and positive Emily. No matter what gets thrown at her and no matter how much negativity comes her way, Emily always looks at the bright side and comes up with a solution. She is great at her job, and will never stop trying to prove that to her boss and co-workers. No matter how much Sylvie says that she hates Emily’s ideas, she can’t help but be impressed by the results (though she tries her hardest not to show it). While Emily isn’t necessarily looking for love, it definitely seems to constantly find her, and we see her go through series of fun and awkward relationships as she learns how in some ways French guys are very different, but in others they are also just like every other guy.

The series is filled with lots of quirky and interesting characters, from the firm’s various eccentric clients, to Emily’s oddball coworkers and boss at the office. Luc always had me laughing out loud with his over-the-top, totally inappropriate workplace banter, and Mindy is wonderful, wild best friend for Emily—even though they just met, it feels like they’ve known each other forever. The writing is so witty, with lots of fun twists and turns, and makes use of some hilarious double-entendres, and turns of phrases and playing with the French language. The city of Paris is a whole character in itself, and the love for this beautiful city can certainly be felt in every episode. Emily’s wonder and appreciation for Paris is infectious, and I dare any viewer not to want to book a trip (once all this COVID stuff is over) to check out the food, sights, and culture.

The series make nice use of an excellent French pop soundtrack as well Star’s familiar bubbly instrumental scores at scene transitions. Throughout the episodes, we also see Emily’s perfectly-hashtagged Instagram posts pop up on the screen, tracking her likes and followers as her role as an influencer grows as the series progresses. Emily in Paris is such a delightful, fun show that after you binge through these ten episodes, you will certainly be saying “Oui” when asked if you want to see more.

Tonight, I’ll also be checking out Monsterland and The Graham Norton Show.