One of my favorite comic book artists, Erica Moen, described 50 Shades of Grey as follows:
It’s like McDonald’s. It tastes good but has zero nutritional value.
This is how I feel about Emily in Paris. A lightweight, utopian show that just so happened to reveal my own nostalgia. Ninety percent of my family lives in Paris. Meanwhile, my parents, (both artists) decided to make the City of Angels their home.
Growing up between two countries is a humbling privilege. From an early age, I felt lucky that my second home was full of cheese and wine. I was also educated in the United States, which meant that my lack of French history and language skills were as robust as my American arrogance. I may be French on paper, but I’m American in the streets.
And Americans, as Emily’s fictional experience entailed, are not warmly welcomed in dear old Paree.
The French Disdain Was Heartwarming
Emily, with her doe eyes hovering over a permanent smile, is the butt of the joke to all the Parisians she meets. While her co-worker's behavior is exaggerated, there is a pinch of truth to every joke. France and America are distinct western countries with stark cultural clashes. What French people value often counters what Americans value, and vice versa. I thought Emily in Paris honed in on that conundrum pretty well.
A Real-Life Example of French Disdain Towards American’s.
Meet my (American) friend Charlotte. Who, while living in Paris, had an unusual experience with a (French) boyfriend and a pencil.
While living in Paris, Charlotte fell in love with Guillaume. As months became a year, Charlotte adapted to Parisian culture. Yet, no matter how hard she tried, everyone recognized that she was American. She couldn’t even pass for Canadian, and finally had to ask her boyfriend why.
“You smile too much.” Guillaume promptly replied. Explaining that her American ‘tell’ was her constant smirk. The solution? Charlotte was to put a…