Words by Molly Openshaw

Over Christmas, I was the lucky recipient of a positive Covid test, leaving me susceptible to binge-watching Netflix and obsessively rereading novels. One of these shows that I enjoyed was season two of Emily in Paris, following the quirky American Emily travelling to Paris to work in a very suave marketing firm. With the beautiful set of Paris and the attractive casting, this show has been considered stereotypical, romanticised or hypersexualised. 

With season one setting up the series with Emily making friends, having difficulty fitting in and establishing a love interest; season two starts with more love drama, even more, ridiculous outfits (if that is possible) and more problems in translation. 

This show positively encourages the motif that Paris is the city of love, with a multitude of love interests as well as an overarching laissez-faire attitude to sex and relationships. When discussing the marketisation of Paris and a large amount of capital being made off of the romanticisation of the City, Emily expresses ‘so what if marketing capitalises on romance, being a romantic and a realist are not mutually exclusive. I think that this statement perfectly exemplifies the beauty of Emily in Paris, there is a sense of attainability to the dream of living abroad and finding love in another city. The act of romanticising Paris as well as depicting the hardships of language barriers, missing home comforts and being a foreigner blend together to create an entertaining, yet (sometimes) realistic. It is portrayed that finding the balance between the real and the romantic is the key, particularly in making capital off of Paris. The context of Valentine’s Day is used in this show, demonstrating how using love for the marketing of Paris is often deemed unethical, yet this romanticisation is not separate from the real experience of Paris. With Valentine’s Day approaching, it is not uncommon to experience the bombardment of love, hearts and roses, which often feels less like an expression of content relationship, and more of a technique to profit off of love. 

This representation sparks the debate of whether profiting off of love on Valentine’s day is unethical, and who is also guilty of doing this? It often seems that half of February is washed over with red tint with everyone carrying cuddly toys, roses and chocolates, but is art and media responsible for this? Emily in Paris almost breaks the fourth wall here, deciding that it is aware of the show’s romanticisation of Paris. The whole show seems to mediate between the perils of living abroad with the absolute beauty of Paris, with Emily herself demonstrating how ‘finding a balance’ is essential between the real and the romantic. 

In terms of the show’s reception, it is quite evident that people are unhappy with the depiction of Paris, with Deana Korsunsky arguing that the show is ‘a plethora of generic tropes’, yet bingeable. By representing Paris as clean, beautiful and effortless, the show ignores the pickpockets and the high expense of living in the city. It seems that there is a cultural ambivalence in which the show is not quite Parisian due to the American influence. But this brings into question how far artistic licence can go. 

Etymology of the edition:


An Adjective. Beginning in the fourteenth century, this adjective denotes something that is physical or real. Moving onto having a more symbolic meaning in the fifteenth century, being used in relation to things. In the late sixteenth century it was meant to be genuine or ‘nonsense’. With the colloquial usage in the twentieth century, for example, ‘get real’ it is associated with genuine or actual beliefs or practices. 

Badger A noun. Coming from the sixteenth century, badger is seen to evolve from the Anglo-French badge meaning a mask or token, due to the white markings on the animals head. looking g at the french word blaireau, bler meaning ‘marked with white’, this is evident. We can also see influence from the Old French bauzan meaning ‘black and white spotted’. Looking at Old English names for the animal, brock was borrowed from Celtic in Ireland and Wales with connotations of a white streak but also meaning ‘dirty’ or ‘lowly’.

Categories: Arts In Review

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