I used to go to Paris every spring. It's my favorite city in Europe, maybe in the world, so of course I'm going to watch a tv series called Emily in Paris
, even if it is terribly heteronormative.
Scene 1: Establishing shot of Chicago. Emily (Lily Collins) is jogging (5.3 miles in 40 minutes, not bad..) Then she goes to work in a skyscraper. Her boss, Madeleine, who does something in advertising-marketing-moving and shaking, has just been offered a job in...Paris! She loves Paris because "young French men love older women." Heteronormative!
They try on a new perfume that makes Madeleine sick.
I know where this is headed.
Emily meets her sports-speak-spouting boyfriend (Roe Hartrampf, who has 3,000 shirtless and underwear shots on Google Images, and about 1000 more on his instagram page).
Madeleine is pregnant, so she won't be taking the job in Paris, and Emily volunteered. Boyfriend is not happy with the prospect of a long-distance intercontinental relationship. Besides, Emily doesn't speak French. Heck with that, she's going!
Scene 3: Emily is in Paris! (You can tell because of the Eiffel Tower, which you actually can't see from everywhere in the whole darn town.) Her taxi also takes her past the Luxembourg Gardens, the Musee d'Orsay, the Arc d'Triomphe (hey, that's back in the other direction!), the Palais Royale (back the way we came!), and finally to her apartment building in what looks like the Invalides, on the Left Bank across from the Louvre.
She is met by the rental agent, who escorts her up to the fifth floor (sixth, in American terms) to her crappy apartment. The 5.3 mile in 40 minutes runner is out of breath. But at least it has a nice view. He then asks her out, but she refuses: "I have a boyfriend." Besides, it's like 5 am her time, and she's been up all night. I can never sleep on that plane.
Aerial view from her apartment window across Paris. Hey, I was right. The Invalides.
Emily goes to the office, a quaint old building, where the receptionist, Julien (Samuel Arnold, left), doesn't speak English. She meets the boss, Sylvie, who is shocked because she isn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow (with jet lag and all), and why would anyone come to work in France who doesn't speak French?
Paul Broussard, the founder of Mode...um, I mean Savoir (a fashion and "luxury product" company), complains about American food (pizza is "like quiche made of cement"), asks why all Americans are so fat, and so on. Spot on! When I visited Europe, I always claimed to be Canadian, to avoid spending the entire trip apologizing.
Sceene 5: An office meeting around a quaint round table instead of those shiny rectangular monstrosities. Emily alienates everyone by not speaking French and by "shouting" (Americans talk too loud). She wants to crank up the company's social media presence...but wouldn't that all be in French?
Scene 6: M. Broussard and Sylvie argue in the hallway. Who is that girl? She knows nothing! What idiot sent her here? Sylvie points out that they are stuck with her -- unless she decides to leave. Cue the sinister laughter.
Scene 7: Unaware of the evil scheme, Emily stands on a deserted bridge at night. I think the Pont des Artistes. She sends a photo to the boyfriend in Chicago: "Isn't it amazing -- the entire city looks like Ratatouille" Ugly American!
Wait -- this is the evening of the day she arrived? She's been up for 36 hours!
Back at her building, Emily accidentally tries to get into an apartment on the wrong floor. A hunk answers. Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) from Normandy. She says: "I know that beach from Saving Private Ryan." Has she even looked at a map?
He flirts with her.
Scene 9: Establishing shots of Paris, including, of course, the Eifel Tower. Emily stops at a bakery, where the shopkeeper corrects her French. Arriving at the office, she finds the door locked. Oh, you didn't know -- we start work at 10:30 am here.
She alienates the social media director by being brash and American, and not speaking French.
She invites her coworkers to lunch, one at a time, but they all reject her.
Scene 10: At lunch in the park, Emily meet-cutes Mindy (Ashley Park), a Chinese-Korean girl working as an au pair, who flirts with her
Mindy loves everything about Paris except the people -- "So mean." Wait - when I was in Paris, everyone was super-friendly. Of course, I spoke French.
On the way back to the office, Emily sees all the coworkers who refused lunch with her, having lunch.
Scene 11: Coworkers have a new nickname for Emily -- La Plouc (the hayseed).
Scene 12: At a cafe near the Pont des Artistes, with the Louvre across the river and the Eifel Tower in the distance. Emily sits by herself. A hunk asks "Is this seat free?", and when she says "Yes," takes it to sit somewhere else! I hate it when that happens.
Luc from the office (Bruno Goery) stops by and apologizes for the La Plouc nickname. He says that everyone is afraid of her because of her big, brash American work ethic -- starting at 8:30 am! 45 minutes for lunch! For Americans, their work is their life -- everything else is trivial. "I love my work!" Emily protests. "I like accomplishing things, being a success." "What you call success, we call a prison. We want to enjoy life."
Darn -- he was going to ask her out, but then they started insulting each other.
Scene 13: Boyfriend calls at 3:00 am, unaware of the time difference (really?). Nice chest shot, and we finally get his name -- Doug. They begin cybersex, but get cut off. Fortunately, she brought a vibrator --- Emily, no! You need an adapter!
She shorts out the electricity all over the neighborhood. The end.
Beefcake: Just Doug having cybersex.
Other Sights: Lots of exteriors of Paris landmarks. I could usually tell exactly where they were filming.
Gay Characters: Mindy strikes me as a lesbian, but it's probably just subtext. In future episodes, Julien turns into the sashaying, snarky gay best friend of 1990s romcoms.
Heterosexism: Lots of boy-girl stuff. The second episode is entitled "Masculin-Feminin"
The Ugly American:
I kept being embarrassed for this poor girl making one faux pas after another. Did she really get on that airplane knowing nothing whatever
The Fashion Industry: This reminds me very much of The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty.
Will I Keep Watching: Maybe to feel nostalgic about those days and nights in Paris.
Here's another Roe for the road.