Emily is still in Paris. Why are we still watching?

I started watching this show out of the worst symbolic loyalty, because I have unshakable sympathy for any young woman (even if imaginary; even if she wears bucket hats) whose profession (like mine) requires the use of the word “society.” A straight-faced noun. Far be it from me to demand intuition from a rom-com experiencing character development for the first time, but watching Emily spout marketing logic like “corporate mandates” and brush off her every faintly cruel joke left me wondering: Want this show? Am I supposed to laugh at the particular brand of honest, millennial smarm that Emily represents? Or should I be cheering her (very American) refusal to change, despite all the hardships she goes through in Paris?

To say that Emily chases after anything is to claim too much agency that even her creators don’t dignify her.

In both literatures And cinema, Paris has long been the setting for a certain class of restless, cosmopolitan, and upwardly mobile white American women who find themselves in the city chasing (often fruitlessly) the things her homeland denied her: a new sense of self after a broken heart; liberation (sexual and intellectual); Sometimes adventure; Occasional adultery. Paris shelters Edith Warden’s Countess Olenska, when the foolish society gentleman she falls in love with has neither the backbone nor the stomach to claim their life together. In her memoir, “My Life in France,” Julia Child recalls her arrival in Paris as still a “loud and unserious Californian.” City, with her loving husband Paul, which made her a woman known to the world. Carrie Bradshaw in Paris, perpetually in love with the idea of ​​love, finally realized that all it did was make her more miserable. Emily Cooper is not one of these women. To say she’s chasing anything (except maybe a constant approval pillow from her bosses) is to claim so much agency that even her creators don’t dignify her.

In 1919, Wharton was an expatriate in Paris. wrote that “Compared to French girls, the average American girl is still in kindergarten,” she might be talking about Emily. Nowhere is this more evident than millennial Emily Cooper’s portrayal of what young people are like today, fashioned from a boomer’s dream: lazy, addicted to their phones, and obsessed with getting rewarded for doing the bare minimum. The show’s architects have given him what’s known to be his generation’s worst trait: a compulsive devotion to online oversharing and a cult of manufactured relativity. But what sets Emily apart is the Bambi-like appearance and the hollowness of nothingness beneath the sweet ebullience.

The Chekhov’s Bangs incident later turns out to have very little payoff, with Emily once making a life-changing choice that fosters absolutely zero introspection. For a show that made the complexity and even the anger of betrayal seem saccharine Pain or chocolate Emily posts on Instagram with the caption “Butter+Chocolate = 💓” after seeing her friend give herself what she calls “drama bangs,” suddenly raising the stakes in the Emilyverse. But for those of us who keep watching, we do it despite the mess — like Emily plucking her hair — even though we know it’s a mess.


Eva Dixit is a staff editor at the magazine. She wrote last Green Onion Recommendation Letter.

Source photos: Stephanie French/Netflix

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