Et is a cathartic scene as Sylvie sits at her desk and Emily, who is standing in her doorway, once says clearly, “I think you’ve done enough. Could you please close the door?” But what, how! Replies Emily. “It’s business, Emily. Door!” And Emily’s face disappears behind the door.
So it takes almost three seasons until Sylvie, the French head of a marketing agency in the series “Emily in Paris”, calmly puts a stop to the title character (played by Lily Collins). Because since the motivated employee from Chicago has been working for her, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) has had to scold a number of times: because Emily doesn’t keep agreements, because of Emily’s embarrassing way of dealing with customers, because Emily doesn’t make an effort to learn French. The relationship between Sylvie and Emily seems to have been based on a sentence by the writer Edith Wharton: “Compared to the women in France, the average American woman is still in kindergarten.”
Ménage-à-trois in colorful outfits
However, the American always got through with her infantile manner: somehow she still found the customers charming, somehow her concepts worked out in the end, and somehow everyone can actually speak English. So life in Paris was extraordinarily easy for Emily: she insulted the Parisian elegance with terribly colorful outfits, hooked herself between a couple for a ménage-à-trois and, in American naivety, smiled away a French snobbery. So the series offered enough to get excited or laughed at, and it quickly became the most-watched show on Netflix in 2020.
At the time, Paris-based fashion journalist Monica de La Villardière wrote a letter to Emily for British Vogue to at least dispel some clichés (e.g. that the French aren’t all rude or sexist). While she and her Parisian friends laughed at a lot of the series, they weren’t sure if they were laughing at the right thing.
Should the French or the Americans be obnoxious? Are clichés being intentionally exaggerated here, or do the series makers not know how to paint? Is this satire or soap opera? Series creator Darren Star (who also produced “Sex and the City”) only vaguely explained: Of course, this has little to do with the real Paris – the series is just a “glamorous presentation” of Paris and its inhabitants.
In the third season, the series remains true to itself as a soap opera (love dilemma at the altar, product placement, unnecessary singing, cliffhanger). Emily also still causes moderate disasters – but the series hits the side of the French for the first time. Because Emily can no longer wriggle out of everything.
She’s not just messing with some luxury marketing Parisians — she’s messing with the de Leon family, who run a certain company called JVMA. It doesn’t take a huge transfer feat to understand what a powerful family it was that upset Emily: the head of the real Pinault family and owner of LVMH recently became the richest man in the world. Even the cheeky Emily Cooper can’t compete with him. So: door!
Maybe it’s an omen that at the beginning of the season another American woman leaves town in horribly colorful outfits. The boss from Chicago realizes that if the Parisians don’t like you, it’s bad for business.
As a result, Emily at least follows the fashion of the boss from Paris and wears muted colors (Sylvie’s outfits by Schiaparelli, Valentino and Proenza Schouler show what distinguishes style from fashion). She still chatters in, but speaks French now and then. And she closes the door when Sylvie asks her to. It will probably survive a fourth season in Paris: as a cliché that adapts.