I watched Netflix’s latest rom-com show, Emily in Paris, as soon as it aired and . . . well, I have thoughts. Lots of thoughts. Emily in Paris was directed by the creator of Sex and the City, Darren Star. It’s a feel-good, lighthearted show, released at a perfect time, amidst an ongoing pandemic, whilst most cities are going back under lockdown. It’s the story of every girl’s dream: getting an absolutely amazing fucking opportunity in a dream job, moving to the dreamy Paris and becoming a bit of an Insta influencer, all in a very short time period. (Like, a week.)

(Btw, I’m totally going to include spoilers!)

Emily in Paris | Netflix, 2020
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The opening episodes of Emily in Paris encapsulates the dichotomy between American and French lives. It carefully shows us the differences in culture, the arrogance of the American girl who doesn’t speak a word of French other than basic oui and bonjour we all know, and the (as is portrayed in this rom-com) often unfriendliness from the French (I found them to be so polite when I visited Paris, so what is this even about?). As the show progresses, we see Emily’s (played by Lily Collins) naïveté and superiority complex shine as she tries to turn her French workplace American, by implementing rules and guidelines to change the system in place at the office.

Of course, going to any country, when you don’t know anyone, is vastly different and can result in culture shock–but instead of properly trying to learn the ins-and-outs, the culture, the language (though she did try to take a language class, not that it would’ve been enough, in a short time frame, to learn the complexities of the French language!), and lifestyle, she tried to change it to what she was familiar with: her settings in Chicago. Disrespectful af.

Emily (Lily Collins) and Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) in Emily in Paris, not talking about how they need to tell Camille and stop being the dickheads they are

Maybe it wasn’t on purpose, and she was just trying to feel at home, but it sure as hell didn’t go over well with her colleagues.

In the ten glitzy episodes, we uncover a number of smaller storylines, plot twists and characters, making it feel somewhat more realistic and true to life in a way that made it a feel-good show. We get an absolutely beautiful singing moment from Mindy, in the park, which I just . . . j’adore.

Mindy (Ashley Parks) singing ‘La Vie En Rose’ | Emily in Paris (Netflix, 2020)

Emily also explores whirlwind romances with French men, learning the rules of dating, and passionately makes out with her neighbour (who of course lives a floor beneath her) who happens to be the boyfriend of her new friend, Camille.

Emily (Lily Collins) and Camille (Camille Razat) in Emily in Paris, talking about everything except what’s important: Gabriel is a piece of shit!

What I found utterly bizarre and shitty of this was how it just glossed over the cheating. Not only did the kiss happen more than once, neither deigns to tell Camille the truth. Emily and Gabriel flirt behind Camille’s back, and whilst the kiss was the physical cheating and didn’t escalate, there were an insurmountable number of times where emotional cheating took place. As a friend, Emily should’ve had the decency to fess up to Camille, an utter sweetheart and an overall gentle soul who didn’t deserve to be treated in such a terrible way.

I mean, shit you’d think the moment you find out the guy you kissed and flirted with constantly had a girlfriend, you’d tell her. Any decent human being would. But nope. Emily doesn’t do that. She stays friends with Camille and even has the audacity to go with her and Gabriel to the estate Camille’s family owns (granted, it’s also for work purposes, but still!)

Camille had been nothing but a friend and an amazing girlfriend, and had it all thrown in her face, without her even knowing. I absolutely detest how Emily in Paris romanticised cheating–it could’ve had so much potential, if not for this shittiness. Of course, Emily gaining thousands upon thousands of followers within a matter of days, when she started off with 45 or whatever, is extremely unrealistic–especially with the utterly shit hashtag she used (and on a selfie too?).

Emily holding a bouquet of pink roses and a coffee cup | Emily in Paris (Netflix, 2020)

Twitter user, Fabiola, wrote “I just finished Emily in Paris, and I feel like we should start a petition to make Camille the main character. I no longer feel like watching shows where the ‘protagonist’ is romanticized for being a cheater and a narcissist. The triangle storyline had potential, but no.” — which I completely agree with. I’d much prefer a show all about Camille, instead of a season 2 renewal for Emily in Paris, much as I loved the show for everything else it had (oh my god, the outfits! and Mindy’s (played by Ashley Park) singing, which was just oh so beautiful.

Kate, on Twitter echoed the sentiment, saying “CAN HE STOP CHEATING ON CAMILLE FOR 2 MINUTES” (lol right?? He’s such a fucking douchebag and I hate him. Like, everyone who ships him with Emily, are you okay???? Emily’s a dickhead, just like him. They’re both cheating assholes who don’t understand the meaning of loyalty and are willing to hurt someone they both supposedly care about.)

Emily in Paris | Netflix, 2020

The season ends with Gabriel and Emily hooking up, though (thankfully) it’s after Gabriel breaks up with Camille and calls off his move to Normandy. But just because they have sex after he ends the relationship doesn’t make it any better, because firstly, he still cheated and secondly it was instantly after breaking up with his long-term girlfriend.

Some people could argue Emily didn’t know Gabriel had a girlfriend when she first kissed him, and while this is true, when she found out she had multiple opportunities to tell Camille. But she didn’t. She kissed him again, while fully aware of his relationship, and sure she didn’t have any proper commitment to Camille and it was Gabriel’s duty to remain loyal and faithful–but Emily knew about his relationship and kissed him anyway. She wanted to keep her friendship and keep this ‘hot guy’, who made her omelettes once, around.

If she’d come clean to Camille at the start, there could’ve been two things: Camille cut Emily out of her life and ask Gabriel do the same or cut them both out.

Obviously, Gabriel is a tool and a shit boyfriend, considering he entertained it all while in his relationship. God. It’s horrifying to think men like this actually exist. The damage cheating does is, often, irreparable. And I hope if season 2 happens, and Camille finds out, she’ll choose not to forgive either of them. Because god, she deserves so much better.

And whilst this show is a glitzy and sparkly escape from reality of a modern-day fairytale where Emily is the type of woman who could be, honestly, anyone in reality, it romanticises, normalises and glamorises cheating. Fuck Emily and fuck Gabriel.

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Things I’ve written lately:

Communication matters
I stopped wearing my hijab because I was scared for my life
Times Two: a short story
Why I still listen to Taylor Swift
The Brown Girl Guide to Moving Out
Why my sexuality is none of your business
Dating in a pandemic

Posted by:Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a Muslim student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light.

7 thoughts on “Emily in Paris: where’s the loyalty?

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