There’s much about Emily in Paris which is just plain wrong. Like all the stilettos. Nobody wears stilettos anymore. Especially in Paris. It’s all trainers or clunky boots. High heels no longer make any sense, not that they ever did. Have any of you (where-ever you land on the spectrum) tried wearing vertiginous heels lately? What happened? How did we ever walk in those things? Were we mad?
Post lockdown, they look like museum artefacts from a strange time in history when women voluntarily slowed themselves down to look pretty…desperate. Chic Parisiennes are known for their Isabel Marant trainers or Celine slouchy boots. They move fast. They don’t hobble on the cobble.
So the footwear is off-key as is the notion everyone starts work late. Non. Frenchies are early risers. School starts at 8.30am. The cafés are buzzing in my little village on our walk to école. They’re up and at ‘em for a few hours of focused work before a two hour lunch starts from 11.30am onwards.
Or during dinner. Or on their holidays. Or after 20.00. As Emily’s co-worker in the show says, Americans live to work, the French work to live.
As someone who spent years oinking down petrol station chicken rolls in cars as a TV news and entertainment journalist too busy to stop, it still takes practice not to pick at the baguette on the way back from the boulangerie.
I have witnessed a plate of biscuits remain untouched on a table where children are running around…until my rebels arrived obviously. The concept of wait to be served has yet to translate.
For all its paint by numbers flaws, I’m still four episodes into the Netflix fluff series and prepared to go back for more. Some bits are giving me a right chuckle. Like when Emily sends back her steak haché, which is basically a raw minced beef patty. Years ago, Nic in all his wisdom, ordered the Tartare de Boeuf after a day touring his home city of Paris. Big mistake number one was ordering for me, even if the menu was just French. Ask first! Big mistake number two was choosing the tartare.
The waiter was not dissimlar from the one in Emily in Paris. Unimpressed and uptight. We were having a bad date. Anyway a lot has changed since then, like ditching meat, choosing more appropriate footwear and figuring out a few French words so I can speak for myself, however imperfectly.
French critics may have accused the show of lazy stereotypes but feck it, we’re all stereotypes, like it or not, no matter how we try to wriggle free from our cultural conditioning. Clichés arise from common behaviour and every country has its personality.
America is workaholic, optimistic and prizes consumerism. Clashing cultures against each other is a rather crude form of entertainment, but it is fun and we get to savour the beauty of Paris. Now let’s see if Emily manages to nab her hot neighbour in episode five.