Is Emily in Paris intentionally bad?

Netflix’s Emily in Paris sounded decent: magical setting + Sex and the City creator (even if SATC was cringeingly biphobic, among other problems).

But the show itself is TERRIBLE. And apparently this consensus is shared among Americans and French people alike.

So I couldn’t help but wonder (WINK!) if it was on purpose. Is Netflix playing us?! Is Emily in Paris the same kind of garbage as The Bachelor, Love Is Blind, Selling Sunset, and The Room? That is, is it designed to be immensely hateable?

Let’s look at the facts.

  1. Emily is staggeringly, horrifyingly awful. She speaks ZERO French upon arrival and seems to relish every opportunity to belittle French culture and customs. She’s basically a caricature of an Ugly American, Millennial, and Basic Bitch all rolled into one. She Instagrams EVERYTHING, thinks pathetic puns are the height of cleverness (saying something is “berry” anything instead of “very” is très dad joke), and makes almost no attempt to assimilate to her new culture. I mean…SHE WEARS A BERET IN PARIS. Literally no one does that, especially not the French. Jesus.
  2. Emily lacks the basic likability we expect from a heroine, especially one following Carrie Bradshaw and Liza Miller. It’s almost like we’re supposed to hate her. She has ZERO wit or charm. She pales in comparison to her sexy, mysterious boss Sophie (about whom I’d GLADLY watch a show). Her main, possibly only, personality trait is her love of Instagram. (In one episode, she says she loves organizing and putting things in containers, which seemed like a desperate, belated attempt to give her a second character trait.) She’s as one-dimensional as the period at the end of this sentence. Instead of being an interesting woman, or even a woman at all, she’s a girl, or to be most accurate, an emaciated Samantha doll. Why are we supposed to like her? Darren Star, can’t you give us at least one good reason?
  3. Netflix knows we’re all trapped at home. Maybe instead of making a good show, a nuanced show that takes more than a cursory glance at what it means to be an American woman in 2020 and how French culture is more complex than stereotypes, Netflix decided to make a show that’s deliciously awful. After all, what better way to get people tweeting and talking about it? We’re already spewing vitriol everywhere on account of the hateful idiot running for reelection and his mismanagement of a virus that’s already killed 200,000+ people, so maybe Netflix decided to harness our rage and give us another target for it. OR maybe I’m giving Netflix way too much credit.
  4. It’s just astoundingly bad. Emily in Paris isn’t funny or clever or delightful the way Sex and the City seemed decades ago or Younger is today. Even the title is awful–it sounds like a children’s book starring a bear. Emily in Paris? That’s the best you could do, Netflix? Nothing cutesy like Bonjour, Love! or Emily, Mon Amour? I mean, I guess if the target audience is Midwestern conservatives who have never left the country and have zero exposure to European culture, this show works? But egads. It’s soooo bad. And yet I can’t stop watching.

So a half-hearted and begrudging congrats to you, Netflix, for making something else addictive to pass the time during quarantine, but yikes. Emily in Paris sucks. I can’t wait for the second season.

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