This will come as no surprise to anyone because we all know I’m captain basic bitch, but I recently finished watching Emily in Paris on Netflix. Everyone was talking about it on social media, and look, Melbourne has endured a four month lockdown. Forgive me for wanting to indulge in a little trashy fodder.
Everybody seems to have a strong opinion on Emily in Paris. Rightly so, the problematic use of yet another white girl as the bumbling American girl in Paris has been a hot topic of conversation, as has Emily’s ridiculous idea of what makes good content in 2020. The fashion also hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the show’s stylist Patricia Field boldly clad the cast in outfits reminiscent of her time on Sex and the City, and I’ve even heard people gushing that it really spoke to their ‘relationship with Paris’ – I have absolutely zero idea what this means by the way, but alright. I mean, if you’re French or have lived there, sure, I expect it hit different. But if you’re referring to your inner Parisian soul that you nurtured during your 5 day trip circa 2013, I’m diagnosing you with a case of the bullshits.
Anyway. Naturally, I had thoughts too. Duh. And look I’m not going to lie to you. A lot of them involved Gabriel. A lot.
But when I wasn’t ogling hottie-McChef-pants, I found myself howling my views on the toxic workplace and the completely unrealistic financial profile of the characters, which to be honest I should’ve expected from a Darren Star production (ahem, Carrie Bradshaw).
How the F*ck Did Emily Survive The Toxic Workplace?
The Savoir workplace, to be honest, set my anxiety alarm a’ringin’. After each episode I kept saying ‘this show makes me so anxious I can’t watch it anymore’, but then Gabriel would appear and I’d remember actually I could endure it if it meant more content for my random never-going-to-happen daydreams. Funny that.
Without wanting to defend Emily’s many, many flaws, watching her be mocked, ignored, ridiculed and to be frank, borderline emotionally abused by her boss and colleagues brought memories of marketing jobs gone by screaming back to me. The fact that it was water off an insufferably delusional duck’s back didn’t help the flashback-induced panics. Emily being the duck.
The way Sylvie treats Emily is a pretty accurate representation of how things are done in marketing. She had zero respect for Emily’s ideas, zero respect for her work ethic, took pleasure in her failures and actively went out of her way to undermine her. The fact that Luc and Julien eventually became Emily’s confidants proves that their name-calling and exclusion of her in the earlier episodes was all at the hands of puppeteering from the top.
Of course, Emily’s character had her own suite of issues, but trust me; the senior boss being threatened by junior ideas is all too common, and so is the catty behaviour and deliberate undermining of ability. Leaving her out of the group lunch and calling her ‘le plouc’ (however accurate it may be) is just, well, nasty. And when a similar thing happens to you at work, it feels like shite.
Then we have Antoine, who thankfully seemed to buzz off after the first few episodes and only ever resurfaced as a buffer for when storylines appeared to be running a little dry. The fucked up internal politics of Savoir meant that when he behaved hideously inappropriately to Emily by sending her god damn underwear and making crude remarks, she was the one that was judged for it. In fairness, that also seemed like water off a duck’s back, though when she voiced her opinions on the advert that objectified a woman’s body, she was shot down – including by Sylvie.
How the F*ck Did Emily Afford Her Wardrobe?
On her way to the workplace where dreams go to die (read: be emotionally abused and gaslit), Emily would stomp out of her apartment (also the residence of hot pot of the year, Gabriel) wearing bold clothing emblazoned with Ganni prints and more Chanel logos than an a YouTuber’s walk in wardrobe. To her job as a marketing executive. Hmm.
Now look, I’m not one to begrudge a girl a designer bag or two, providing she purchased them for her own personal happiness and not to keep up appearances and send herself broke in the process. But we’re not talking a designer bag or two. We are talking upward of twenty designer bags and countless designer outfits across ten episodes.
So I crunched the numbers. According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average salary in the US for a marketing executive was $60,473 per year. Now of course, she’s been deployed to Paris on a last minute relocation, so maybe they sweetened the deal with a tasty relocation bonus, and yes sure, they’re probably paying for her accommodation. But the sheer volume of designer clobber she has is unbelievable. It begs the question why Emzie didn’t flog a couple of her limited edition Chanel bags to help hottie-McChef-pants buy the restaurant herself… but we’ll come onto that later.
It just cannot add up. The relocation bonus would have had to have been upward of $200K for any of it to be remotely realistic. And look, I know I’m being a party pooper. Why can’t I just enjoy the show for what it is and leave the nonsensical nature of the characters’ finances out of it? I could, but to be honest I just thought we were past that weird aspirational utopia phase. Guess not.
How the F*ck Are Gabriel and Camille Gonna Get Over This Restaurant Investment Issue?
Alright I know it’s a bit clunky but I’d already run with the ‘how the f*ck’ title theme and I had to make it work. But seriously. This is going to be a doozy of a season two opener (and guarantees the return of hottie-McChef-pants’. Nice work.)
This storyline was interesting from a financial perspective too, though. Gabriel didn’t want to take the investment from Camille’s parents because he wanted to build the business in his own right, but then took investment from that cockroach Antoine with little convincing.
So what’s the deal? Was it as simple as he knew he didn’t see a future with Camille and didn’t want to risk propping his restaurant up with her family’s money? Or was there really pride involved? Perhaps he saw the investment from Antione as something he’d earned by being a great chef, rather than simply a nepotistic privilege afforded to him by having a girlfriend with wealthy parents.
What I did find interesting was Camille’s remark that said, ‘it doesn’t have to be hard, why don’t you just let them help?’… or something to that effect.
It got me thinking about privileges and wanting to be self-made and whether that’s really as noble as it comes across on a surface level. Feeling uncomfortable by being handed something you wanted to build yourself is reasonable, but does it actually change anything that’s wrong with the world? It did make me think about why we do sometimes give more credit to financial stuff when it appears to be hard. Why does it have to be hard?
Yes there are huge problems with privilege and people being given things that others have to work for – or that others never get to experience. But has that top-end-of-town issue made us obsessed with making things harder for ourselves in order to feel like we deserve it?
I don’t think there’s an answer to that, to be honest. It’s incredibly nuanced and related to opinion and situations. But it definitely got me thinking, and the fallout in season two will be an interesting one to watch.