COVID Watching: Emily in Paris


Lily Collins as title character Emily Cooper

Right now, everything is uncertain. People across the nation and world are concerned about COVID-19 and what it means for their jobs, their health, and their everyday lives. It is no surprise then that a show romanticizing Parisian life and shot from a refreshingly non-quarantined angle would be so popular right now. This is, of course, in reference to the popular TV show Emily in Paris, which made its debut on Netflix on October 2nd to mixed reviews.


The show follows lead Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) as she moves from America to Paris to work at a marketing firm. Over the course of 10 episodes, each about 30 minutes in length, the audience learns about Emily’s new life in Paris. She grapples with her French boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), falls in love with her neighbor Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), and makes new friends in the city. As an American with no knowledge of French language, culture, or customs, she struggles to connect with the city.


Emily in Paris is shot from an incredibly idealized view of not only Paris, but Emily’s life itself. She is chosen for promotions that she does not really deserve, she feels no qualms about packing her bags and moving halfway across the world on a dime, and she attracts men without trying. Every facet of her character is seemingly perfect with no effort. Although this might make the show seem unrealistic, Emily has entranced viewers with her easy way of life. In a time where everything feels so stressful, watching Emily breeze her way through life with hardly anything to burden her down can be a fun change of pace. Viewers praise the show for offering a refreshing break from the chaos of the current world. On Rotten Tomatoes, critic Lauren Veneziani from WBAL-TV described the show as “the perfect escape from reality we so desperately need right now.” When the world outside is full of political drama and health concerns, the romanticized Parisian lifestyle that Emily in Paris promotes can be a highly needed break.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Emily in Paris as of November 18th, 2020

However, not everyone has been so enamored by the show. There is a great divide between viewers of Emily in Paris, both critics and casual bingers alike. Viewers praise the show for offering a refreshing break from the chaos of the current world. However, Emily in Paris has also drawn critique for its heavy use of clichés. In the French publication Premiere, critic Charles Martin wrote that “no cliché is spared, not even the weakest.” He added that the French people in the show are portrayed as “lazy and never arrive at the office before the end of the morning, [..] flirtatious and not really attached to the concept of loyalty, [..] sexist and backward.” Large numbers of other critics, French or otherwise, have agreed. Craig Mathleson from Australian media outlet The Age commented that “frivolity has a place, but this is shameless.” 

Emily (Lily Collins) and Mindy (Ashley Park) celebrating in front of the Eiffel Tower.

No matter which side of the debate you stand on, there is no doubt that Emily in Paris has become this popular for a reason. In these uncertain times TV has become a beacon of reliability and comfort for many, and Emily in Paris was released at a perfect time to maximize popularity. Due to its high popularity and mostly positive reviews, the show has been renewed for a season 2, although the release date is unknown. If you haven’t watched Emily in Paris yet, and you have Netflix, it is a great quarantine watch! At around 10 hours for the full first season, it’s a short but sweet way to spend any extra time.