The reviews of Emily in Paris who were positive mostly focused on calling the show easy, sweet escapism. To me, Netflix's fish-out-of-water comedy is exactly the kind of escape that doesn't make me feel better – it frustrates me even more. In 2020, a frothy confection full of "charming" selfish characters (and admittedly some beautiful clothes) won't help me escape the real world. For me, escapism is entertainment that offers us a better alternative to the real world than one that only gives us an airy shine.
Emily in Paris is so obsessed with its aesthetics that it misses the most important part of storytelling: giving us characters to put down roots for.
At first glance, Emily in Paris looked like this should be my kind of show. It's a light comedy with a girl power / rom-com glitz, full of enviable fashion and even more enviable Parisian views. So why if I enjoy similar shows – even shows from the same creator as Younger – Did I not only disappoint the first episode, but also see it actively irritated? Part of that I think is that Emily in Paris is so obsessed with its aesthetics that it misses the most important part of storytelling: giving us characters to put down roots for.
We should be delighted with Emily's do-it-yourself attitude and empathize when these evil, condescending French colleagues abuse her. But let the quick dialogue and the carefree hats bring it to the point, and Emily is fundamentally difficult to find: She is the chipper, arrogant employee that we all had at some point and who is so convinced of her own correctness Otherwise there is no belief. There's a scene in the pilot where a slightly friendlier co-worker advises her that it was incredibly arrogant to expect to roll into a French job without even speaking French, and Emily calls it ignorance, not her own arrogance . We're supposed to find this charming and confident, but it really doesn't come off that way. Add in some terrible French stereotypes, a deceptive act, and a very poorly researched idea of how social media actually works and it all feels like the viewers are condescending.
It's hard to "escape" into a world dominated by a selfish heroine who embodies the worst stereotypes of Millennials and Americans when there is selfish behavior at every turn in the real world that has consequences that have many greater than the impact on Instagram follower numbers. Watch out Emily in Paris frustrates me and makes me feel like I'm being patronized, as if it provides me with a shiny, sparkling distraction full of beautiful places, hot french guys and stylish outfits. For me, escapism isn't about an aesthetic that distracts me Emily in Paris seems to be thinking. For me, escapism is about stories that acknowledge that things aren't always great, but rather offer something optimistic and instead emphasize the best in people.
So I've increasingly turned to conversation that is kind but remembered to acknowledge when something goes wrong. My holy trinity of comedies was Schitt & # 39; s Creek, The good place, and One day at a time. All three are stupid and funny and comfort in their basic friendliness – but they are not pure fluff. All three also deal with exhilarating subjects, acknowledge real problems and mistakes, and have remarkable emotional depth. I also saw the political drama of the early 2000s The western wing, which, with its portrayal of idealistic, competent, deeply flawed, but fundamentally decent political actors, feels like an alternative universe in which I could happily live, in which people get confused and make bad decisions, but also have each other's backs, recognize them by mistakes and strive to always be better.
The difference between these two approaches to escapism is that one offers a temporary, largely aesthetic, distraction while the other offers some kind of comfort that feels at least a little achievable. The best kind of escape is not just a literal escape. it brings us back to the real world with the actual hope that maybe we can make our world a little more like the fictional ones we just left. There are many shows that strike this hopeful balance, but in my opinion Emily in Paris is not one of them.