'Emily in Paris' Review: Lily Collins only saving grace in dated and predictable Netflix rom-com series
Spoilers for Netflix's 'Emily in Paris'
Midway through Netflix's latest series 'Emily in Paris', the protagonist Emily Cooper is told that happy endings are very American -- "You can never escape life." But the statement is ironic for the nature of this romantic comedy.
Played by Lily Collins, Emily suddenly bags a dream job in Paris after Madeline (Kate Walsh), her colleague and boss back in Chicago, discovers her pregnancy. This new offer is too difficult to refuse and Emily finds herself on a plane across the ocean willing to thrust herself at every new avenue that the city might have in store for her.
And so begins Emily's tryst with the City of Lights. She shows up in this foreign country without any knowledge of the language they speak, using a translator on her phone to convey her social media campaign ideas. Needless to say, this arrogance rubs her peers the other way and she is reduced to being the butt of office jokes.
But it is Emily's zestful nature that redeems her in the eyes of everyone around her. And soon enough, her colleagues Julien (Samuel Arnold) and Luc (Bruno Gouery) come around as friends. Her tense relationship with her new boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), however, remains intact with her job being on the line on several occasions. For the duration of ten episodes, this undulating rapport becomes unbearable to watch but somehow, making an ironic point as aforementioned, Sylvie comes around too.
'Emily in Paris' focuses heavily on her love affairs too, obviously. Who doesn't come to Paris and fall in love? One after the other, suitors continue to line up for the leading lady. Whether it is the hot chef who is also her downstairs neighbor, a professor she randomly meets at a cafe, or even a client at work, love, for Emily, always seems to be lurking around the corner.
In this new city, Emily quickly makes friends but that is also arguable as the show doesn't fully explore the potential by completely under-utilizing the talents of Ashley Park, who essays Mindy Chen, and Kate Walsh. While Walsh makes very rare appearances at the beginning of the show, Park features throughout as an aide and, well, a sidekick. She has her own little backstory to provide for the benefit of the show and for Emily's sake it works well. But might we add that her backstory is far more interesting than Emily's, which is hardly explored. All we know about Emily's life in America is that the ambitious 20-something had a boyfriend and after moving to Paris, she doesn't.
When the trailer of the show first hit YouTube, French audiences immediately deemed it "cringe" in the comments section, knowing fully well that it feeds to the American fantasy of the city -- love, fashion, and passion. Creator Darren Star (who is best known for creating 'Beverly Hills', '90210', 'Melrose Place', 'Sex and the City', and 'Younger') doesn't care to even try and prove otherwise. Via Emily, he tells the story of every young girl who romanticized a dream life in Paris with incidents plucked from cheesy rom-com. In other words, 'Emily in Paris' could have easily come out in the mid-2000s and not made much of a difference. Star doesn't care to innovate his stories except for adding some politically correct jargon that, as it appears, enjoys little space in Paris, and characters making them all mirror images of each other. And frankly, a bore. That said, Collins is (somewhat) enjoyable in this outdated tale as she breathes life into the girl next door.
Towards the end of the show, 'Emily in Paris' becomes a grand predictable affair. Emily's peppy and enthusiastic attitude, which worked in her favor throughout the series, turns into a redundant watch and almost impossible to buy into. While it is rich of us critics and audiences to expect otherwise from a Netflix romantic comedy, it is difficult not to rue over the lost opportunities of the storyline.
All episodes of 'Emily in Paris' are currently streaming on Netflix.