50 Most True and False Moments in Emily in Paris, by a Real American Girl in Paris

In true 2020 fashion, I heard about Emily in Paris on Instagram. The IGTV preview trailer caught my eye – a brunette American girl with big eyes moving to France’s capital city? It couldn’t be so…

After I shared the trailer to my story with a caption along the lines of “This looks so ridiculous but I’m so watching it this weekend,” a French friend of mine wrote back to me, “C’est un peu toi!”

Yes, the similarities were certainly there – I’m American, I have long brown hair, and I moved to Paris from a big American city during my late 20s. I am even a “micro-influencer” just like Emily.

But there’s no way I could actually relate to such a clichéd version of the “American girl in Paris” …right?

It turns out that while Emily in Paris is an idealistic version of the American girl’s experience in Paris, some moments during the show were very relatable to me! What’s more, is that there are just as many American clichés in this show as there are French clichés.

Memorable Moments from Emily in Paris

Here are the moments that stood out to me the most during the series and just how real or fake I found them to be!

Quick note: there are some spoilers in this article (mainly at the end), so watch the show before reading if you don’t want me to ruin it for you!

Netflix Emily in Paris Thoughts from a Real American Girl in Paris - wearing a red beret in Paris and an APC Trench Coat
Debating whether or not to embarrass myself by wearing this bright red beret in Le Marais, Paris

Emily Takes Her Colleague’s Job in Paris

False. Right off the bat, the show begins with a wildly impossible scenario: Emily Cooper casually takes the spot of her coworker who was scheduled to move to France in the immediate future.

I laughed at the prospect of the French government simply changing the name on a working visa for an American after months of paperwork, interviews, background checks, fingerprinting, and general bureaucracy.

In case anyone was wondering, there is absolutely no way you can just up and transfer a long-stay visa from one person to another – no matter their relation, job, etc. It’s just impossible. The French government only grants working visas to foreigners whose employers have proven that this person and only this person can do the job required for the business to function.

In reality, Emily’s move would be delayed by months once she decided to go. She would be wondering if her dossier was good enough for the French officials. She would agonize over the fact that they asked her to submit more documents than what was required.

Oh, how lovely would it be if we could all just decide to move to Paris in the span of what, a week? 🙂

Emily’s Apartment

Half True. In the first episode of the series, we see Emily arriving to her new apartment in Paris. After lugging her suitcase up five flights of stairs, she arrives inside her chambre de bonne – a very inaccurate description of what I think is a reasonable size apartment for an American to be living in Paris.

A chambre de bonne is a small, studio apartment that formerly served as the maid’s quarters for wealthy Parisian families living in the apartments below. These types of apartments are always on the top floor – 6th in France, 7th in the US. They were considered the most undesirable place to live because of the many stairs you had to walk up just to get there.

Emily does not live in a chambre de bonne, but her apartment is actually reasonably sized for an employee who was transferred abroad by her American marketing firm.

As we learned, the apartment should have gone to Emily’s older colleague Madeline, who presumably earned enough to afford such a large place in Paris. Since Emily is a mid-level executive at her marketing firm, it’s also reasonable to imagine her living in a decent apartment in Paris, especially considering how much cheaper Paris is than many major cities in the USA.

So my only caveat with the apartment situation is that it’s not a true chambre de bonne in technical terms.

Emily’s Wardrobe

False. I don’t know anyone – French or American – who dresses like Emily. On her first day, she wears a button-up shirt with the Eiffel Tower printed on it. (To the show’s credit, it’s actually sold out at Farfetch.) I don’t think any American girl would be daft enough to wear this type of outfit in Paris. She pairs it with a green snakeskin print skirt. Mais, pourquoi?

I have no idea what decade we are in regarding fashion on this show!

The costume design reminds me of a mix of the characters from Gossip Girl and Sex and the City when they went to Paris, but here’s the thing – we’re in 2020! Has fashion not changed since then? Those multi-colored, mixed-print outfits worked in the 2000s, and ok, maybe the 2010s. Do we not have fresh, minimalist style in the year 2020 to share?

Not to mention, Emily seems like she only wears stilettos when she’s not jogging, a very impractical choice for the city’s narrow and uneven sidewalks. Walking in stilettos on cobblestones is insanely difficult and very uncomfortable – as any New York girl who has gone clubbing in Meatpacking can attest to!

Patricia Field was in charge of costume design on Emily in Paris. I don’t mean to be critical of someone who is obviously incredibly accomplished but… Could the producers not hire a younger stylist to take on this role?! Did they really need to hire the same woman who has been working for the last half-century? Give someone else a chance!

I wish a younger stylist could have had the chance to work on this show and bring us good fashion. It’s truly the biggest shame on this show. Hopefully, they’ll go with a fresh face for Season 2 who will give Emily’s wardrobe a better transformation arc.

Monsieur Brossard, the founder of Savoir

False. When Emily meets the founder of Savoir, Monsieur Brossard, in episode 1, the first thing he does is insult her hometown of Chicago – their deep-dish pizza is degueulasse, the people are obese, and they create medications to treat their self-inflicted diseases. This wouldn’t happen in real life.

French people can be rude, but no one would start off a conversation with direct insults. This shows a lack of manners and a lack of education on their part. If there’s one thing the French value, it’s manners. In fact, if you want to insult someone in France, tell them they are mal éduqué – they’ll go nuts. This guy was not bien éduqué at all.

Having a Hot Neighbor

Probably False. Ok, sure, you could get lucky and have a hot neighbor living below you. But here’s the reality: you’re far more likely to have an old married couple, a young American girl, or a student with bad taste in loud music as neighbors. I’ve had all three! 😉

Masculin/Feminine Words

True. When Emily orders a pain au chocolat for the first time, the woman running the boulangerie corrects her saying “pas une!” to signify she has used the wrong gender pronoun. This is my biggest struggle – remembering whether the word I want to say is masculine or feminine! However, people won’t correct you on this. It’s a very minor error and not a huge deal. They will correct you on bigger words, though.

Emily’s Co-Workers Avoiding Her

False. I don’t think French people are so snobbish that they wouldn’t agree to lunch with her. Are they going to invite her to their summer homes? No. But lunch is reasonable. I wish Emily had at least one ally at the office in the series.

You see French people are fascinated by Americans way more than they will admit. Someone would have definitely taken her up on her lunch offer, even if just to tell their friends, ‘I had lunch with une américaine aujourd’hui!

“French people – mean to your face” – Mindy

True. Emily makes her first friend in France at the Jardin du Palais Royal in central Paris. Mindy expressly claims that Chinese people are rude behind your back, but French people are mean to your face. I have to go with true on this one! French people are very direct, and it can come across as quite mean or unpleasant.

Work Ethic in France

Somewhat True. From showing up late in the morning to long boozy lunches, Emily gets a taste of the supposed lack of work ethic in Paris. Her experience is somewhat true, though very exaggerated.

“You live to work. We work to live.” – Luc

Emily runs into her coworker at a cute café with Berthillon ice cream on the Île Saint-Louis. The two begin a conversation on American and French work ethic. I found this quite stereotypical of the overworked American and the laidback French person. French people do work hard, but no one judges you if you don’t. In the US, I think there is a higher level of judgment if you are not hard-working, even though some Americans are not.

Americans also find happiness and self-satisfaction in their work. “Work makes you happy?” Luc says, full of bewilderment. 100% true of the cultural differences!

Emily Gets By Without Speaking French

False. “You came to Paris and you don’t speak French. That is arrogant” – Luc

Luc rightfully calls out Emily’s lack of French as arrogant, albeit in a light-hearted way during their brief run-in. I’m going to say it clearly: the French don’t tolerate a cutesy avoidance of their language. They may cater to you when you’re buying something, but if you want to have any sort of relationship beyond a transaction, you need to speak French. There’s no way everyone will go around accommodating your lack of language skills the way that they do in this series!

What bothered me most is that Emily refuses to even try to speak French. It doesn’t help when Sylvie shakes her head in disgust saying “Perhaps it’s better not to try,” something no French person would say. French people love when Americans make a solid attempt at speaking their language. They don’t care if you make mistakes – the important thing is that you care enough to try.

It made me so mad when Emily says “what a relief” as she sits at Ralph Lauren’s restaurant upon learning that “they’re not even allowed to speak French here.” She gives Americans a bad name when she refuses to show any sort of admiration for the French language.

On the flip side, it’s equally unlikely that Emily’s entire office and friend circle would speak English as fluently as they do. The French people in the series speak very good English, which isn’t the case for most French people. They may have a basic level of English that is far better than your average American who took three years of French in high school – but it is still nowhere near as fluent as it appears on this series. If the series were real, every person on it would have had to spend at least a few years living abroad to attain that level of English.

“I’m not offended by anything.” – Luc

True. I love that this line was included in the series. In comparison with American safe spaces and microaggressions, Luc captured the French spirit of anti-offendedness perfectly here! When you admit that something bothers you in France, you admit utter and total defeat.

“Lonely in Paris”

True. After her coworker Luc departs, Emily is left alone at the Île Saint-Louis café. She posts a selfie and captions it “Lonely in Paris.” This was the only time the show depicted the reality of being a single expat in Paris. The loneliness is far too real. While being lonely doesn’t make for great television, I wish the series could have captured this feeling a little bit longer and a whole lot better.

I have sat at Parisian cafés for hours by myself. You may say, but you’re sitting at a café alone in Paris and yes, that may be true, but the older I get, the more I realize that there isn’t much of a point to magical experiences if you don’t have anyone to share them with.

Stepping on Shit

True. I liked this reference to Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw goes to Paris and her beautiful day is ruined by stepping in dog poop on the streets of Paris! Yes, you have to watch out for dog poop in Paris.

The Art of Mystery

True. “You want to open doors. I want to close them” proclaims Sylvie as she explains why Emily won’t be working on the account of one of the firm’s most prestigious clients, “You have no mystery. You’re very obvious.”

The French art of mystery is one that many women desire but few can replicate. Sylvie was the personification of the elusive French woman with that je ne sais quoi effortless charm. I loved the character of Sylvie and adored the French actress who played her so well.

Having a Cigarette for Lunch

False. I don’t know anyone who just smokes for lunch. When Emily starts devouring hors d’oeuvres at the De l’Heure party, Sylvie advises her to “have a cigarette” if she is so hungry. I hate that this narrative was perpetuated because it’s totally false. Yes, French women eat less than their American counterparts, but no one is puffing on cigarettes instead of consuming something.

“We’re at a soirée, not a conference call.” – Sylvie

True. Emily went way overboard in sharing the details of tracking each and every social engagement for her previous marketing clients during an encounter at a fancy soirée. Sylvie rightfully scolds her for this, “Are you crazy? You don’t talk about work at a party.” Furthermore, user tracking is not something French people are interested in. They just passed a huge privacy law called GDPR to restrict company’s access to citizens’ data, for Christ’s sake!

Emily Holding Her Champagne Glass By the Bowl

True. Few American girls realize that you must hold a champagne or wine glass by the stem to avoid changing the temperature. Emily naively holds her champagne by the bowl at the De l’Heure party – a mistake a bonafide French woman would never make. One of my good friends from Spain was the first person to correct me on this when I was living in New York! I continue to meet Americans who hold their drinks this way.

“I think he was just being French.” – Emily

True. Emily nervously stutters this line when Sylvie accuses her of being a little too friendly in her interaction with their client, the night before. It’s true that French men do have a way of flirting with women in a completely casual way. It makes you wonder if they are truly interested or they are just having fun. Most times, they are just being French!

“He’s married!” “He’s a client!”

Emily pulls out just about every American excuse in the human resources employee handbook as to why she isn’t interested, but the French know that none of that really matters when it comes to love…

Antoine

True. I only need to write his name. The character of Antoine was necessary to this series. From his sexual innuendos like referring to his company’s perfume as an “aphrodisiac” to his bold confidence, Antoine is the epitome of the flirtatious French businessman. The fact that he hits on Emily, thus cheating on his mistress Sylvie, with whom he is cheating on his wife made him all the more français.

Extramarital Affairs: “I think it’s probably tolerated more than discussed” – Mindy

Rarely, but True. Emily is in total shock when she discovers that Antoine’s wife is probably fully aware of his affair with Sylvie, her boss. Mindy tactfully explains that it’s basically an unspoken understanding in French marriages that affairs happen because “no one wants to have sex with the same person forever.”

Antoine’s is the only marriage we get to see in this season, so we are left thinking that all marriages in Paris must be unfaithful ones! I don’t think this is 100% true. If I had to generalize, I’d say that most marriages in France are monogamous, while some marriages, particularly in Paris, can be more subtly “open” as depicted on the series.

As Mindy says, “the French are romantics, but they’re also realists.”

Emily’s Encounters with Taken Men

Sometimes True. From Antoine to Gabriel, fidelity doesn’t seem to be a thing on French men’s minds. I hate to say it but this one is sometimes very true!

If you don’t have at least 2 married or taken French men hitting on you, are you even really in Paris?

Fidelity seems to be an abstract concept to many couples here. I’m not saying every Parisian man is a cheater, but I have found myself questioning if anyone truly understands the concept of a committed relationship here in Paris.

That being said, I do think that French love, love, love to flirt – BUT that does not mean they will jump into bed with you. Without going into too much detail, I’ve found myself in this sort of situation before and I can definitively say that just because a French man is flirting doesn’t mean they’re ready to leave their partner or even hop into bed with you. Sometimes, they just want to know they still have what it takes to “play the game.”

“Nope, here the customer is never right.” – Mindy

True. Emily’s steak isn’t cooked to her liking, so like the American she is, she decides to send it back. When the waiter insists that the chef has properly cooked it, she utters that oh so classic American business customer service phrase, “the customer is always right!”

Mindy quickly corrects here in a funny moment I related to all too well. In France, the business is always “right” and many businesses do in fact, treat customers as if they are privileged to be a client of theirs.

While the Netflix version of this learning moment in French culture results in a cute interaction between Emily and her hot neighbor, the real-life version can leave you departing a business in tears as I’ve learned one too many times!

The employee at SFR tells you a function will work on your phone, but it turns out he was wrong and even admits it? No refund for you, Mademoiselle! You need to buy one thing at 7:45pm when the store closes at 8pm? Sorry, but we’re already closed, Madame!

That is the reality of being a customer in France. You are never right. You are never important.

Emily’s Social Media Growth

False. No, you can’t get a thousand followers overnight just because you shared a picture of a pain au chocolat or the Pont des Arts. There are millions of other tourists who shared the same picture. And don’t even think about Brigitte Macron retweeting you. That’s not happening either.

“This was a big mistake. I should never have come here!”

True. After Emily’s boyfriend dumps her and she gets stuck marketing a female vaginal suppository at work, Emily regrets her decision to move to Paris. This one was resoundingly true. Every expat questions her decision to move to Paris at least once.

“I like Paris, but I’m not really sure Paris likes me.” was another line in the show that every foreigner can relate to at one point or another.

“Paris is the most exciting city in the world. You never know what’s going to happen next.”

False. Mindy tries to raise Emily’s spirits by telling her what everyone wants to hear – Paris is exciting and full of twists and turns! I am going to go with false on this one. I know that sounds crazy for someone who moved to Paris to disagree with this line, but it just didn’t resonate with me. I think that life in general is exciting and mysterious, and it’s about what you make of it.

You could put “New York” in place of Paris and it would have been more appropriate. Paris isn’t about living an “exciting” life the way that LA and New York are. It’s not a flashy city. It’s a city with rain, heartbreak, and disappointment. It’s about dealing with the bad things and rising up above them. Paris can break you down, and it can also build you back up.

“You’re single in Paris? Your life is croissants and sex!”

True. Madeline is gushing with delight when she learns that Emily is single in Paris. It’s true that being single in Paris is quite fun – during non-pandemic times of course!

Emily’s Electricity and Shower Problems

False. Paris is an old city. As Gabriel says, “The plumbing is 500 years old. Literally.” But it’s not falling apart! While things break down often for Emily, you don’t have to worry – it’s rare to have the extensive infrastructure issues that Emily runs across during her time in Paris!

“If you keep smiling like that, people will think you’re stupid.” – Sylvie

True. Sylvie aptly tells Emily to quit smiling before the start of their workday. I loved this moment! As Americans, we are taught to smile. It’s our way of saying to the world – hey, I’m friendly and nice! In France, not so much. I’ve definitely found myself smiling far more often than my French friends. Especially when you don’t speak the language well enough to join the conversation, it’s the only way you have to communicate. A smile says “I may not be talking, but it’s not because I’m a bitch, it’s just because I don’t speak your language!” The French just aren’t into smiling the way that Americans are.

Corporate Culture

True. The “corporate commandments” scene was a hilarious part of the series! Two of Emily’s French coworkers are shocked to discover the American management style corporate commandments from the Chicago office.

“Thou shalt always maintain a positive attitude?!” Luc exclaims in horror. French people love complaining. This rule didn’t go over well with him.

Emily emphasizes that they are a team and must work together. She pulls out the childhood phrase every American kid hears, “There’s no I in team!” to illustrate her point. Sylvie quickly claps back with the smart line, “Well, the French word for team is équipe, and there’s an I in équipe!”

I thought that line was so clever on the part of the show’s writers!

The scene finishes with Luc exclaiming, “You would like to destroy our French soul!” and storms off in all of his Frenchness. Brilliant.

Emily’s Red Beret

False. No, most French girls don’t walk around Paris wearing bright red berets. Only foreigners do this! It would be like a New Yorker walking around in a white “I Love NY” t-shirt. This is just one of the French fashion clichés that Emily seems to have not got the memo on!

French Intellectualism

True. During a debriefing on the De L’Heure commercial shoot, Sylvie quips back at Antoine that Emily “has no references” when he mentions that surrealism is a long tradition in France, noting artist Man Ray and writer Jean Cocteau. This was a quick example of the French intellectual elite in Paris who look down on people who can’t discuss the work of famous art and writers of the past.

This pretentious intellectualism is later personified in the character of Thomas, who feels he is better than Emily’s friends from outside Paris due to his education and upbringing in the capital. There is even a word “province” to designate all the area of France outside of Paris, further highlighting the mild disdain for those not from the capital city. Thomas highlights this when he says to Gabriel and Camille, “The two of you have something in common. Neither are from Paris.”

Chérie, I’m a woman, I’m not a feminist.” – Sylvie

True. While the #MeToo movement and its French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc certainly made the news here in France, it never really took off the way it did in the States. In fact, many prominent French actresses denounced the movement altogether. It’s no surprise that Sylvie is not on board with Emily’s sexist take on the De L’Heure commercial shoot featuring a naked model who dreams of being the object of men’s desires.

“Desire does not mean lack of respect. In fact, quite the opposite. It is a sign of respect. There is no bigger compliment.” – Antoine

True. I liked this line from Antoine in explaining his choice to feature a woman dreaming of being desired by men while wearing his perfume. It highlights the differences between American thoughts on sexual desire and French view on romantic interest. In America, desire is absolutely seen as a lack of respect or sometimes even an insult. In France, this is not the case at all. Desire is validation, approval and a sign of esteem and admiration. It was a quick moment that was necessary in light of feminist movements in both countries.

Of course, Sylvie isn’t having any of it and she doesn’t hesitate to call Emily the “prude police.”

“Impossible!”

True. French love telling you “non” and “impossible.” It was a great moment when the plumber came to fix Emily’s shower and of course – he simply cannot.

“That’s the French way. They’re very disagreeable.”

True. Mindy is in shock as she reads Emily’s positive-attitude no-workplace-romance corporate commandments even saying, “…You told French people this?! No wonder they hate you.” This one was true! French don’t value agreeableness the way that Americans do. They have no problem stating their thoughts even if it isn’t in line with the person who is receiving them. Emily struggles with this as her strength is her likability – a highly valued American trait.

Drinking Before Noon

False. No, French people don’t drink wine at all hours of the day, despite what the series might have you believe. I’ve never heard of Sancerre as a “breakfast” wine. A glass of wine at lunch is acceptable, however.

French Reluctance to Be Friends With Americans

True. Sylvie expertly articulates the reason why so many expats find it hard to make French friends in Paris saying, “After a year of food, sex, wine, and maybe a little culture, you’ll go back to where you came.” Sadly, yes, many French people don’t invest in deep friendships with foreigners for this reason. But don’t give up hope, there are exceptions to this rule.

Fabien

True. At a party that Mindy throws for her, Emily meets the young and charming building painter Fabien. They start out by cutely exchanging French and English words before the conversation takes a sharp turn when Fabien says “I like American pussy.” While they may not be as blunt about it as on TV, there are a ton of Parisian men who want nothing more than sex from the (foreign) women they meet. This interaction could very well be real.

“Paris seems like a big city, but it’s really just a small town.” – Camille

True. Paris is such a small city once you live here. Everyone knows everyone. It’s far smaller than New York! One day I ran into 3 people I knew in just one day.

“It’s one thing to cheat on your wife with your mistress. It’s another thing to cheat on your mistress with a young American!” – Luc

True. Don’t mess with your boss’ boyfriend!

False. If someone invites you to a gallery opening in the Marais, it will most likely not span multiple rooms and look like a museum!

“This is the French way. Now that you’re in Paris, you’ll find the most wonderful things exist outside of your… how do you say? Box.” – Antoine

True. Antoine says this line after giving Emily lingerie. It’s true that French people have a different way of looking at life. They don’t see life as a fairytale waiting to happen. They see it as full of ups, downs, and detours. Antoine’s playful nature is confusing for Emily because she likes to compartmentalize every person and situation in her life. Everything is good or bad, black and white to her. The French don’t think like this.

“Remember the first time I took you here Sylvie?” – Antoine “Nope.” – Sylvie

True. French women never give men the satisfaction of knowing they are into them. Sylvie also did a great job at being unavailable after Antoine messes up their vacation. Go Sylvie!

Emily books the 8th of November instead of August 11th

False. Emily makes the typical American gaffe of booking the exclusive Le Grand Véfour on the wrong date – 8/11 instead of 11/8 – because she doesn’t realize that the French write the day before the month, not the other way around. However, the writers of the show forgot one important detail…

No one would be working on August 11 in Paris! Not Sylvie, and certainly not Antoine! There’s just no way. Every Parisian takes a vacation during the entire month of August – and if not, then, at least the two weeks in the middle of it!

I’m surprised that the writers didn’t shift this date one month to the 9th of December mixed up for the 12th of September. It would have made way more sense for everyone to be in Paris at that time.

“He called you a basic bitch!” – Julien

True. Emily should know better than to wear an Eiffel Tower bag charm on her handbag! She gets called ringard by the ridiculous French designer Pierre Cadeault and embarrasses her coworkers.

Café de Flore as the “coolest” café in Paris

False. The night Emily meets philosophy professor Thomas, he tells her she’s at the “coolest” café in Paris. While this may be historically true and his backstory is factually correct, today, Café de Flore is far from the “coolest” place in Paris. Sure, the Café de Flore does have an illustrious past, but word has spread too much about it and today if you go there, it’s completely swamped with tourists. It’s just no longer a “cool” place to be and any true Parisian knows this, even if sometimes they still like to go there once in a while for the famous hot chocolate.

True. When Thomas and Emily join Gabriel and Camille on their date in the 10th arrondissement, they head to Canal Saint Martin, where Thomas describes the hip area as “popular.”

It’s funny how this was translated. The word “popular” has a negative connotation in French, which most viewers wouldn’t necessarily know. Popular means it’s become too famous and too crowded, therefore too “basic” almost – like a tourist district. It’s no surprise that the pretentious Thomas would look down on the Canal Saint Martin neighborhood in this way.

I learned this because once I described a cool and popular restaurant as “populaire” and my French friend explained to me that fréquenté is a better word to use to describe a popular place without giving it a bad connotation.

Hearing the Neighbors Have Sex

True. Walls are so thin in old Parisian apartment buildings. I hear music, conversations, phone calls, and yes – sex! No surprise that Camille and Gabriel hear absolutely everything when Thomas spends the night at Emily’s! Mindy says it best: “These walls are made of straw… It would be harder to not listen!”

“French Ending”

True. In their discussions about American versus French cinema, Luc explains that “you can never escape life” when Emily claims she goes to the movies to escape life. The discussion is short but on point. From the realism of the Nouvelle Vague movement to contemporary cinema, French filmmakers are more likely to show a realistic version of life in the movies, while American films tend to show the idealistic version of a story.

“A girl could be dead in that room. And not just any girl. An American girl.”

False. Ohh la la. I can’t believe this show pulled an American exceptionalism line like that. When Sylvie and Emily can’t get ahold of the famous American actress Brooklyn, Sylvie describes the gravity of the situation by pointing out Brooklyn’s nationality. No, you can’t just say “But I’m American” and get away with anything!

“I don’t want 100% of anyone and I don’t want anyone to have 100% of me.” – Sylvie

True. Sylvie continues, “If you’re committed or married that never happens anyway. It’s a fairytale.” This moment was true in the sense that Sylvie’s mentality certainly exists in France. Call it realism, but the French don’t buy into the American version of romantic fairy tales. She sighs at the notion that Emily believes in “happy endings.”

Camille

False. Clearly, Camille is the dream friend to have when you’re an expat in Paris. She’s cool, beautiful, well-connected, and charming. She even invites Emily to her family’s chateau in Champagne when she barely knows her! In reality, becoming close friends with someone like Camille isn’t easy and takes time, as it does in any other city.

“Collège”

True. When Emily first meets Camille’s youngest brother Timothée, he explains that he just finished collège. In French collège means “middle school” so it’s no surprise Emily confuses this with the American version of college (aka University!). Fair enough.

“Money he hasn’t had to work for”

True. When Gabriel meets Mathieu at Camille’s art gallery opening, he scoffs at Mathieu’s success as the heir to the Pierre Cadeault fashion brand. It’s true that money is a bad word in French culture – especially money you didn’t have to work for. (And even if you did earn it all by yourself, you’re still a contemptible person!)

“It’s impossible to fire someone in France.” – Julien

True. I loved how dramatic the filmmakers made Emily’s firing – from the slow and dreary music to Emily’s mouth wide open in shock! …only to have Luc and Julien explain to her that French workplace bureaucracy takes months or even years! This is true as my former French employer told me when I worked for them in New York. France is a country with strong worker protection laws that make it extremely difficult to “fire” someone. On the flip side, for this reason, it’s extremely difficult to secure a steady salaried job in France.

Gabriel Ditching Camille for Emily

False. Ok, so really, this one would be extremely rare. The show makes it seem like Gabriel just falls for Emily right off the bat, and leaves his beautiful and cool French girlfriend for her simply for the fact that she’s – American and pretty! Now, sure, ok this kind of thing could happen – but it’s extremely unlikely.

French people, in general, are not so open to dating foreigners. Some of them are, but this show makes it seem like every French guy Emily meets is romantically interested in her from the get-go. Think about it – imagine you start dating someone who can’t communicate with your friends and family. Imagine that person just moved here from another continent across the ocean. How do you know they will even stay here?

It’s not easy to date someone from abroad, and this show makes it seem like Gabriel is ready to jump into a relationship with Emily when he barely knows her! It’s just not realistic, but, then again, sometimes love is illogical which is why I can’t say that this scenario is totally impossible.

Emily Sleeps with Gabriel

False. Ugh. Save the worst for last, right? I hated this moment in the show. No, no, no.

So maybe I’m projecting myself onto Emily, but I really don’t think any American girl would be so stupid to sleep with the boyfriend of the ONE French girl who was the NICEST to you out of everyone. I mean, really Emily??

Camille really wanted the best for Emily and went out of her way to invite her to events, dinners, and her family’s chateau!

Camille did not deserve Emily screwing her over like that and I hate that the “American girl” was portrayed this way. If you think it’s only Americans watching this show – think again. French people are definitely watching it and while they know it’s fictional, it doesn’t make us American girls look good!

Since this moment was clearly inspired by the famous opening episode of Gossip Girl, I’m guessing that Camille and Emily will go through some drama and then become friends again in Season 2.

On verra!


On that note, let’s tally up the total amount of true and false moments from this show!

True – 38
False – 19

It looks like I found the scenarios from Emily in Paris season 1 “true” 38 times and “false” 19 times! As much as everyone likes to hate on this show, it’s clear the screenwriters did their research, even if they exaggerated some of the scenarios to make for good entertainment.

So what did I think of this show overall?

Personally, I loved Sylvie’s one-liners (“That’s not black, that’s off-black.” “I need you to be… less.” “Oh God, the last thing the Louvre needs is more friends from America.”) and she was my favorite character in the show! She was a strong, independent, no-bullshit French woman and I aspire to be like her one day.

As for the story, I was pretty bored by it. I wasn’t invested in Emily as a character seeing as she showed no interest in even learning French. She didn’t really struggle with much of anything which made her quite unrelatable as an American in Paris, too.

I liked the beginning of the show a lot. The first half was funny and cute as Emily discovered Paris as a foreigner. However, the show went downhill after the first few episodes. The fashion was totally ridiculous. I guess you could say that I loved the beginning, but hated the end!

I was, again, extremely disappointed when Emily decided to sleep with Gabriel at the end – it kind of ruined the show for me. If Gabriel’s girlfriend was some abstract character that we didn’t really see much and she was just insufferable, I could understand it. But Camille was a dream friend! Come on, Emily…

Since Netflix just announced there will be a season 2, I guess we’ll be seeing a lot more of Emily very soon!

What did you think of Emily in Paris?

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8 comments

  1. My BFF and I watched the whole season and loved it! I’ve never been to Paris but she has so she did explain some stuff. You def had a lot of good true and falses!

  2. I thought the show was ridiculous, but loved Sylvie and the sights of Paris. I watched it while writing voter postcards for our election. Not the kind of show you need to pay strict attention to.

  3. I stopped reading about midway down, because after more than a quarter century in France (not just Paris), you see and here everything. I could contradict the author and the series (I did not watch it, but my French child did, and thought it stupid)… But a good debate is very French, is it not?

  4. I think a lot of the opinions of Americans in the article are biased since its an American girl writing the article, you mention some of emily’s mistakes couldn’t be and Americans are not like that but you’re defending yourself here, however Americans do act in these terrible ways here in Europe, and all of Europe knows Americans to be this way. This show is not giving you a worse image whatsoever

    1. This self righteous and condescending attitude is just so tedious, already. Grouping whole entire cultures and swaths of people together as one shows a glaring lack of enlightenment and lack of discernment.

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