Because at the end of the day we’re all basic bitches.
Apologies for the sweeping generalisation and calling you a Basic Bitch, but the fact that Emily in Paris is trending at number one (at least in Pakistan) and every publication – from Vogue to Buzzfeed – is churning one piece after another on the show – which apparently isn’t worth watching – proves that there is SOMETHING in Emily in Paris that has struck a chord.
Is it the basicness?
When haute couture icon Pierre Cadault screamed “Ringarde”, was he talking about Emily Cooper or the show in general? Because the Netflix show, Emily in Paris is exactly that: Ringarde AKA Basic. When you hear the title “Emily in Paris”, you think “Oh, we’re going to watch a certain Emily make it big in Paris”, and that’s exactly what you see, making the show so predictable that by the end of it you start believing you’re a fortune teller.
My excuse for hate- watching (as some of us are calling it) the show was Lilly Collins, her eyebrows, her hair, her fashion and all the other shallow reasons that you can think of. And she served in all the aforementioned categories. Fashion experts are divided over her styling game – some find the quirky-basicness alluring while others think Patricia Fields got a little too nostalgic and tried to recreate a Carrie-Bradshaw-ish vibe, but failed.
Fields, if you don’t yet know, has done the costumes for Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and I’m sure you get the drift? I loved the bold neon jackets, floral dresses, and even the extremely inappropriate (for workout) eyelet blouses Emily jogs in.
We’re made to believe that everyone in Paris dresses like they’re ready to hit the runway. And everyone – except the Americans – talk like you’ve stolen their Hermes and refuse to hand it back. And they walk around the cobblestoned pathways, in their heels, as if they smell roses and not pee.
You see, Emily in Paris is full of clichés
The famous designer is too stuck up to reinvent. French men only have sex on their mind. French men and women objectify women and glorify male gaze. French people have no moral compass when it comes to relationships or anything really. French people live on booze and cheese. Americans, with their superior knowledge, are only trying to help French people evolve, but they’re too uptight to dance at the fingertips of an American Marketing Executive.
And yet people are watching it. Why?
Do you remember why you watched The Princess Diaries, Mean Girls, and The Devil Wears Prada?
All of them have a central character, who is talented enough to conquer the world, but in comes the villain – think Regina and Miranda – which inadvertently helps them glow and grow into beautiful swans.
We all love a glow-up. We love seeing our flawed protagonists fumble, stumble, overcome obstacles, and then thrive.
Did Emily in Paris serve on that account?
No, that’s why we all feel cheated. And even if Darren Star – writer, director and executive producer – tried to weave a similar magic, he failed.
Firstly, Emily Cooper isn’t flawed. In fact, she’s presented as the opposite. I, being in the exact same position as her professionally, can say that her job and talent was grossly glorified. You don’t come up with brilliant social media strategies in the blink of an eye. Yes, some good ones come to you in the shower, but that happens once in a few months. Not every single day – morning, evening, and night!
Also no one loves their job as much as Emily does. And if they do, they need help. Okay, now I’m just being salty.
Speaking of presenting Emily In Paris as an inspiring journey of a female soon-to-be boss lady. You’re a lollipop; don’t try to be aged wine. People will watch the show once and erase it from memory – if you wanted to enter the league of Devil Wears Prada, you should’ve worked a little harder on adding nuances in your characters and dialogues and protagonist and plot.
Sprinkling in a little sermon on “male gaze” and “I am proud to be a basic bitch” is not enough; either don’t step into the water and if you do, then swim to the other side. The entire conversation between Emily and her perfume-selling-wife-cheating client was lacking the depth the issue required.
Darren Star is the brain behind the much-acclaimed Sex and the City series, but times have changed. In fact, I might be one of the few ones who hadn’t seen Sex and the City (the movies) until recently, and after watching it I don’t see what all the fuss was about?
It might’ve been groundbreaking when it was released, but in 2020 it looks like one, big cliché.
Surprisingly, I don’t feel the same way about Mean Girls, The Princess Diaries, and The Devil Wears Prada. That’s probably because I watched them when I was young (and hopeful) and now the magic of nostalgia refuses to make me speak, or think, ill of them. They’re my comfort shows.
Emily in Paris could’ve been a comfort show, but unfortunately, it falters.
And this comes from a person who is not into highbrow entertainment. In fact, I wish to preserve my brain to the point that I always opt for trashy TV. I don’t wish to use my brain when I’m being entertained, which often leads to disappointment and frustration, but that hasn’t stopped me. I once read in my science class that our brain stops producing neurons at 13 and ever since, I’m preserving whatever neurons I’m left with for important stuff: like making money.
It feels like Darren Star and Lilly Collins were also on a neuron-saving mode when they produced Emily in Paris.
In case, you haven’t seen the show, here’s a little summary. I won’t even say “spoiler alert” because there is nothing to spoil.
Emily Cooper, a talented Marketing Executive who has the power to create social media campaigns out of thin air, lands a job in Paris after her boss becomes pregnant. This Chicago brunette leaves a dude-bro boyfriend behind. He’s into football, has got the built of a footballer, but has the emotional capacity of a golf ball.
He promises Emily that he’ll visit and they’ll bloom their romance in the most romantic city. Does that happen? Of course not! Long distance never works.
Humein tou pata hi nahi tha.
Moving on, as soon as Emily moves to her new apartment, she finds out that her neighbor is…can you make a guess? Handsome in the most perfect way. In fact, Gabriel is a little too handsome.
Good looking neighbours, who’re amazing cooks? Surely a phenomenon we’ve never explored before! Naturally he owns a café too and comes to Emily’s rescue multiple times.
B for boring
In a bid to add twist, the makers introduced Camille, the handsome neighbour’s angelic girlfriend.
A good looking neighbor, who keeps his girlfriend a secret from his female good looking neighbor? Groundbreaking!
Anyway, moving away from the neighbourhood of all things cliché, let’s dive right into a professional space that’s all things cliché.
The boss woman, Sylvie, is Miranda Priestly reincarnated or at least they’ve tried. The series moves on, as Emily saves one day after another Powerpuff Girls style. They also introduce a subplot of the on-the-run Asian heiress, but the less we speak of it the better.
Finally, Sylvie, in all her snugly dressed and sexy hair glory, begins to warm up to Emily, just like Miranda did in Devil Wears Prada.
What a twist! Slow clap.
But is Sylvie as memorable as Miranda?
No. Nada. Nope.
The makers also took the creative liberty to show that most Frenchmen were dying to court the quirky, talented expat. The other creative liberty was the calming presence of Camille – Gabriel’s rich girlfriend. No one’s THAT nice or naive.
The journey of me watching Emily in Paris doesn’t seem fun. It wasn’t. My eyeballs got more exercise than my laugh lines. In fact, I didn’t even smile once. I was lying there, propped against my pillows, having chai and popcorn occasionally. But I completed the show and it seems many others did too.
I’ve touched upon my reasons above, what is your excuse of watching this big, fat piece of cliché?