The untold truth of Emily in Paris

Emily in Paris is the binge-watchable, escapist rom-com fantasy set amidst the splendor of the City of Lights you’re looking for. The Netflix series was created by Darren Star — a.k.a. the television genius behind such hits as Beverly Hills, 90210Melrose PlaceSex and the City, and Younger – Emily in Paris follows the exploits of a young American woman who’s recently relocated to the French capital from the USA.  

According to the Netflix synopsis, Lily Collins stars as the titular Emily, “an ambitious 20-something marketing executive from Chicago” who “unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing company — and she is tasked with revamping their social media strategy.” Viewers get to share Emily’s experiences vicariously, as well as all of the adventures and challenges she juggles, on top of the demands of her new job, and the task of making friends — all while convincing her skeptical colleagues she actually knows what she’s doing. Naturally, she’ll also be “navigating new romances” along the way.

Read on to find more about this intriguing series by delving into the untold truth of Emily in Paris

The star of Emily in Paris is the daughter of an '80s rock star

Lily Collins is not an unfamiliar face to viewers, with some of her more high-profile projects including the film Tolkien, the Amazon Prime Video series The Last Tycoon, and portraying Fantine in the 2018 PBS miniseries adaptation of Les Misérables.  However, fans of ’80s rock may also know her as daughter of Phil Collins, drummer/frontman for Genesis and, as a solo artist, purveyor of hit after hit in the 1980s — particularly his iconic 1981 single “In the Air Tonight,” which has a hidden meaning. 

Sadly, Collins doesn’t have a great relationship with her father. As she wrote in a Billboard excerpt from her 2017 book Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Meher rock-star dad was often away on tour when she was little. Then, after her parents’ divorced when she was just five, her dad moved from the U.K. to Switzerland. This separation from her father, she admitted, led to multiple issues later in life, from difficulties in maintaining relationships to developing an eating disorder. “I’ve realized that many of my deepest insecurities stem from these issues with my dad,” she wrote.

The French are not fans of Emily in Paris

It would be logical to assume Parisians would embrace a series devoted to showcasing their city in all its magnificence. In the case of Emily in Paris, however, that decidedly did not happen. In fact, denizens of Paris scoffed at the series’ wildly unrealistic depiction of the famed metropolis. 

In France, reviews of the show were scathing. “Quote a cliché about France and the French: you’ll find it in Emily in Paris,” stated a review in 20 MinutesPremière critic Charles Martin chided the show for its depiction of French people as being lazy workers who “never arrive at the office before the end of the morning,” who also lack loyalty. Sens Critique‘s review may be the most sarcastic, joking that anyone who watches the show must “love science fiction,” given that Emily in Paris presents Parisians who “are mostly friendly, speak irreproachable English, [and who] make love for hours.”

The New York Times summed it up by noting “Darren Star’s latest serial goes down like sour wine with les vrais Parisiens.”

One critic said Emily in Paris has a diversity problem

Complaints of clichéd stereotypes about the French aren’t the only criticisms of Emily in Paris. Writing for Canadian fashion mag Flare, reviewer Katherine Singh took the show to task for what she perceived as a stunningly tone-deaf lack of diversity.

In her review, Singh pointed to a “big representation problem” in the show. Given that the series is set in such “a multicultural and diverse city,” she wrote, “Emily in Paris is pretty white. And in the words of Emily and her *very* limited French vocabulary: that is legit merde.” 

Not only does this make the show feel hokey and “inauthentic to both the time we’re in and the IRL demographics of our world… it’s also a missed opportunity to explore real social issues,” she continued, pointing out that a lack of diversity seemed to be a problem in all Darren Star’s shows. Comparing Emily in Paris to Star’s iconic HBO hit Sex and the City, Singh pointed out that “both shows are incredibly white, with casts of entirely white leads and few, if any, supporting characters of color.”

The chic outfits in Emily in Paris come from Sex and the City's fashion guru

Speaking of Sex and the City, a key similarity viewers may notice between that show and Emily in Paris is the fabulous fashion on display in both series. That’s hardly a coincidence; Patricia Field, the costume designer responsible for the iconic outfits worn by Sarah Jessica Parer’s Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, is filling the same role for Emily in Paris

Field discussed her approach to curating Emily’s wardrobe in an interview with Paper magazine. According to Field, films such as An American in Paris, and the style of actresses Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron, left her with “a fantasy about Paris… I just love the idea of Paris chic.”

Field brought the same philosophy that drove her fashion choices during Sex and the City to Emily in Paris. Her goal, she explained, is always to make the characters “look as good as I can,” even if that means stretching credibility. “I really don’t say, ‘Oh, Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t afford this Manolo Blahnik,'” she explained. “To me, my job is to create the most interesting, original and beautiful wardrobe for my actors.”

How did Darren Star nod to Sex and the City in Emily in Paris?

Sharp-eyed viewers may have picked up on a few subtle references to Darren Star’s Sex and the City in Emily in Paris. Among these: a scene shot in the famed Plaza Athénée hotel, where Carrie Bradshaw stayed with Aleksandr Petrovsky (ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov) during her time in Paris. In addition, Lily Collins’ Emily is briefly seen wearing a tutu, a throwback to the iconic opening sequence of Sex and the City – one of the hidden Sex and the City details only true fans notice. “In the beginning, we did a small nod to the Carrie tutu but with updates,” costume designer Patricia Field told the Los Angeles Times. “We had it made longer and in black to be a subtle moment but at the same time completely different.”

Meanwhile, Collins explained that Emily’s look would be influenced by Sex and the City because she’d obviously be a big fan of the show. “She would be thinking about the episode when Carrie Bradshaw goes to Paris,” Collins explained. “She probably thought, ‘OK, if I’m going to go to Paris what would Carrie do?'”

Spotify put together an Emily in Paris soundtrack and it's "full of bangers"

Along with the fab fashion and the splendor of the Paris locale, another factor that contributes to the ambience of Emily in Paris is the music used in the show. Along with oodles of French indie pop, noted Radio Times, the series features an eclectic array of music ranging from Eartha Kitt to French chanteuse Edith Piaf to the occasional classical piece, including “Espiègle” by composer Bram Tchaikovsky.

Part of the show’s storyline involves Emily’s friend Mindy Chen (Ashley Park) — here’s why Mindy from Emily in Paris looks so familiar — and her singing aspirations, which includes a scene featuring Mindy singing Sia’s “Chandelier” for an audition. Meanwhile, in another scene, Mindy sings Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.”

While Netflix hasn’t produced an Emily in Paris soundtrack, Spotify has. Spanning over five hours, Spotify’s Emily in Paris playlist includes 95 songs used in the show, offering a chance for the music to transport listeners to Emily’s world. As journalist Heidi N. Moore jokingly tweeted, “It is with a heavy heart that I must say this: The Emily in Paris soundtrack is full of bangers.”

Why Lily Collins now sees "sadness" in Emily in Paris

Emily in Paris made its debut during a particularly fraught time in history, something that’s not lost on star Lily Collins. Speaking with the Associated Press, Collins admitted that promoting the series and recalling her experiences while living in Paris for four months led her to look back at that time with sadness. “It’s like, ‘Wow, that was the world before everything that happened in the past five, six months happened.'”

However, Collins also sees the flip side of that timing, with Emily in Paris arriving at the precise moment when viewers are more than ready for a frothy, escapist rom-com full of stunning locations and vibrant fashions. “I think it was meant to come out now,” she continued. Need more? Here are the most underrated rom-coms to add to your Netflix queue right now.

Once the world returns to some semblance of normality, series creator Darren Star is hopeful Emily in Paris will encourage Americans to travel internationally. “Americans have a big country and we don’t travel as much as everybody else does around the world and I hope this show inspires people to do that,” he shared.

How tourists can visit the Paris locales seen in the show

When a TV series is shot on location in Paris, it’s understandable that the city would become woven into the fabric of the show, essentially becoming a character in its own right. That’s certainly the case with Emily in Paris, which takes viewers to one iconic Parisian location after another in a dizzying, dazzling visual travelogue.

Visitors to Paris can journey to the locations used in the show, and Solosophie has done the homework by listing all the famous locales that are featured. As the site pointed out, when Emily leaves Chicago and first sets foot in Paris, viewers are greeted with a montage of famous landmarks, including the River Seine, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera. 

While the American cast members found plenty to discover during their months in Paris, the same held true for the Parisian Emily in Paris actors. “All the places that I thought I knew, I rediscovered,” French actor Lucas Bravo, who plays Gabriel, told The Oprah Magazine. “I’m a tourist in my own city now.”

Emily in Paris wasn't originally destined for Netflix

Anyone who’s binge-watched multiple episodes of Netflix’s Emily in Paris can attest that the breezy rom-com is a perfect fit for the streaming service. However, those same viewers may be surprised to learn that Netflix wasn’t the original home of the show, which was initially intended to air as a weekly series on a cable network.

Months before Emily in Paris made its debut, Variety reported that the show had been scooped up by Netflix, after previously being ordered by the Paramount Network (which launched in 2018 by taking over what used to be the male-themed Spike TV channel). According to the magazine, Emily in Paris would have been “one of the few scripted series” bound for network, with the only other scripted series at that the Kevin Costner-starring drama Yellowstone

Emily in Paris creator Darren Star was thrilled to see the show land at its new destination. “MTV Studios and I couldn’t hope for a more perfect home for Emily In Paris than Netflix,” Star said of the show’s move from the Paramount Network. “With their international reach, we are excited to share Emily with audiences around the world.”

Where you've seen the Emily in Paris cast before

Viewers of Emily in Paris may watch the show and wonder, “Where have I seen that actor before?” That’s a natural question; while star Lily Collins is certainly a familiar face, other members of the show’s cast likewise have pretty extensive rosters of film and TV work under their belts. 

For example, Emily’s boss in Chicago, Madeleine, is played by Kate Walsh, whose voluminous screen credits include playing Addison Montgomery on Grey’s Anatomy and spinoff Private Practice. Then there’s Ashley Park, who portrays Emily’s Parisian pal Mindy Chen. Not only is she a Tony-nominated Broadway star, she’s also appeared in the TV series Tales of the City and Nightcap

Some of the show’s French actors may also prove familiar to viewers. William Abadie – who plays Emily’s primary client, perfumer Antoine in Emily in Paris will be familiar to fans of Gossip Girl for his role as Roman, the gay French model for whom Harold Waldorf (father of Blake Lively’s Blair) leaves his wife. Meanwhile, aficionados of French cinema will recognize Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu (Emily’s cold-as-ice boss Sylvie), whose extensive list of screen credits extends back to the early ’80s.

Social media reaction to Emily in Paris was hilarious

When Emily in Paris premiered, viewers took to social media en masse to share their thoughts — and those thoughts were hilarious! Those who watched the show seemed to have something of a love-hate relationship with Emily, recognizing the show was a fluffy, shallow, unrealistic TV confection that got them hooked nonetheless. “Emily In Paris is an absolutely horrible show that I binge watched last night and I would watch it again,” tweeted one viewer. “I loved it.”

Meanwhile, fans on were quick to point out some of the show’s most glaring incongruities on Twitter, such as the fact that a relatively inexperienced social-media marketer would be handpicked for a cushy job in Paris that includes a free apartment – despite only having 48 Instagram followers and not being able to speak a word of French. Still others viewers took issue with Emily’s high heels, pointing out she would not fare well in the cobblestoned streets of Paris.

The final word goes to a Twitter user who perfectly summed up viewers’ feelings about the show when he wrote, “Emily in Paris was so annoying” and “I can’t wait for more episodes.”

Actual influencers didn't buy the unrealistic depiction of social media in Emily in Paris

Lily Collin’s titular character in Emily in Paris is super successful, all because of her mad social media skills. During the course of the first season, Emily manages to increase her Instagram following from double digits to 25,000, making her a bona fide influencer — simply by posting clichéd Paris images such as sidewalk cafes and hunks of cheese at a market. 

Vulture reached out to some actual social media influencers to comment on the show, and they zeroed in one of the show’s most unrealistic plot points. That takes place when Emily attends a soiree for Durée Cosmetics, and then posts herself eating a strawberry, accompanied by the punny caption, “Durée is smudgeproof, even when you’re berry hungry.” The story then enters the realm of pure fantasy when she’s tracked down by the company’s CEO, who is so impressed with that single social media post that he offers her a job on the spot as Durée’s brand ambassador.

“That would never happen,” one of the real-life influencers insisted, while none of them were particularly impressed by the phrase “berry hungry.”

The actor who plays Emily in Paris' hot chef once worked as an actual chef

One of the storylines in Emily in Paris involves Lily Collins’ Emily becoming romantically entangled with a Parisian named Gabriel, a chef who lives downstairs and, rather inconveniently, has a girlfriend.

Gabriel is portrayed by Lucas Bravo, who revealed that not only does he play a chef on TV, he used to be one in real life. “I was a sous-chef in a restaurant a few years ago, so I have some cooking skills,” he told Vulture. However, those skills are apparently no longer as impressive as they might have once been. Bravo recalled he and co-star Ashley Park (who plays Mindy) competing in “some kind of cook-off competition” while promoting Emily in Paris. It did not go well. “I completely burned my omelet and cut my finger off,” he admitted, “so I’m trying not to brag about my cooking skills anymore.”

In fact, Bravo was glad there was only one occasion that required him to actually cook on-screen, when he whipped up an omelet in a kitchen scene. “Luckily that one was a success,” he joked.

There's already talk of a second season

Once viewers had binge-watched all 10 episodes of Emily in Paris‘ first season, the inevitable question that arose was whether there would be a second one. 

While Netflix hadn’t made an official announcement of a second season pickup order, series creator Darren Star has hinted that another season could be coming. In an interview with TVLine, Star used terms such as “the next chapter” while discussing some of the ideas he’d like to explore in the second season. “Season 2 will open up some interesting and surprising relationship avenues,” he revealed. Star shared similar hopes for a second season with The Oprah Magazine. “In season 2, [Emily]’s going to be more of a part of the fabric of the world she’s living in,” he said. “She’ll be more of a resident of the city.”

Star Lily Collins, who’s also a producer on the show, said she’s all-in for more Emily in Paris. “I would love nothing more than to be able to go back to Paris and do [a new season],” she told Vanity Fair, explaining that Netflix wanted to see how the first season performed before committing to a second.

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