Where Did Pleasure Go?

Why loving Emily in Paris feels like an act of resistance

Evan Kinzle

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Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

Netflix’s newest hit show, Emily in Paris, is a frivolous tale about a gorgeous American woman who doesn’t speak French and who clumsily romps around Paris after getting sent there to work for the French branch of her marketing agency, Savoir.

The titular character, Emily, has very little tact, an armload of charm, and an Instagram account that inexplicably gains thousands of followers when she posts a picture of a croissant, which is the catalyst to many of the show’s pivotal moments. Emily seems to become a social-media-marketing savant who solves all of her problems by using Instagram as inspiration, leverage, and exposure.

The show is ridiculous, tawdry, and endlessly cheesy — and I absolutely loved it.

Because we live in an era of constant digital surveillance, my phone knows I watched the show and now presents numerous articles and reviews about it on my Google explore page every day. Ever a slave to the machine learning that turns my phone into my own private rabbit-hole of niche interests, I have read several of these articles and reviews, hoping to see some cute listicles on Emily’s best outfits or analyses of which of her love interests are the hottest and why.

Unfortunately, every piece of media I’ve seen on the show pans it. They say it’s vapid, doesn’t represent the French properly, has terrible plotlines, etc. At this point, there are more articles panning the show than Emily has Instagram followers, which is saying something — she was up to about 25,000 by the end of the series (and growing!).

As I read these reviews that are smothered in thinly-veiled superiority complexes, I can’t help but wonder when society forgot how to enjoy things.

Do I have to care that the show is unrealistic? Does it matter to me if Emily gets everything she wants after minimal struggle? Does it offend me personally that Emily constantly looks like she is about to step on a glittery Barbie runway at any given moment, or that the French people portrayed in the show are walking stereotypes taken to near-lethal extremes?

Or are these things allowed to be precisely why I’m watching the show — to escape the depressing reality…

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Evan Kinzle

Writer, marketer, avid reader, and expert on all things pertaining to being a gay man and eating cheese. Find me on Instagram and Twitter: @evankinzle