Emily (Lily Collins), a marketing executive based in Chicago, lands her dream job in Paris. When her company acquires a French luxury marketing company, she is tasked with renovating their social media strategy. Her colleagues are initially chilly, particularly her boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). But Emily goes about making new friends like Mindy (Ashley Park). She also has a cute new neighbour in Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) but he's not her only love interest...
What is 'Sex and the City's Carrie had gone to Paris for work or in search of love, instead of tailing behind a boyfriend who wasn't right for her? What if in 'Friends', Rachel had said "Bye Ross" and got on that plane? Or what if Andy in 'The Devil Wears Prada' after tossing her phone into the fountain at the Place de la Concorde, had stayed in the French capital to make a new life for herself? Yes, Hollywood has dabbled with the idea of escaping to Paris. But its female protagonists always come home whether it's for love, a sense of place, or whatever. At last, in 'Emily in Paris', we see how if you're daring enough, the city can revitalise you, and be a place where dreams come true.
The likeness of 'Sex and the City' to 'Emily in Paris' emerges from the fact that they're from the same creator, Darren Star. Essentially, 'Sex and the City' ran so 'Emily in Paris' could stroll. It's not nearly as revolutionary or sexy as its predecessor. In fact, 'Emily in Paris' often opts for silliness and humour over eroticism, even with the sexuality of France so at the forefront. Emily is transformed by the city, going from cautious and guarded to carefree and sexually liberated. She seems to make friends, allies, lovers or business partners (increasingly muddling the latter two), everywhere she goes. Lily Collins is perfectly cast, this role the most fitting one has ever seen her in. She has a cute, friendly, enthusiastic, nature and that "je ne sais quoi" factor that everyone falls for.
'Emily in Paris' is oh so French. Emily's apartment is on the 5th floor of an old building with plumbing issues; she gets hit on immediately by every Frenchman she meets; and her first breakfast is a pain au chocolat. Not to omit the fact that she's an American in Paris who can't speak French.
The culture differences make for much of the dialogue and can be a little overdone; then again, the coming together of two nationalities typically inspires comparing and contrasting. One episode proves particularly interesting as it surrounds the topic of gender equality and the #metoo movement, which historically had very different implications for the US and France. Then there are some funny moments that arise from the language; for example, when Emily thanks her neighbour for the "duche", or a dinner table chat about the deliciousness of his "coq". The crazy world of social media influencers versus real marketers provides another focal point for the show.
Generally, 'Emily in Paris' is basic but enjoyable escapism. It's formulaic - things go wrong; Emily claws her way back, and figures everything out so as not to let anyone down. Its feel-good factor - and did we mention the glamourous clothes and stunning locations? - and light approach make for entertaining viewing, particularly geared towards that 'Sex and the City' fandom.
'Emily in Paris' streams on Netflix from Friday, October 2nd.