Here's How Emily in Paris Made me Miss The City of Love (and Made me Want to Leave my Beloved New York City)
Even if there is a but or two
"I won't lie, I was a bit skeptical just by watching the trailer at first. I could tell it would be very Paris, put another way, very cliché."
No later than last night, I finished the last season of the so awarded tv show "Schitt's Creek." Indeed, I covered the last season within a few hours, but once I was done with it, I felt a bit concerned about the next show I would select to chill (or write on.) I don't like spending hours looking for something on Netflix, so I made it simple this time: I went straight on the top 10 list, and there it was, one of the shows would include in its title the name of the city where I was born - Emily in Paris.
I won't lie, I was a bit skeptical just by watching the trailer at first. I could tell it would be very Paris, put another way, very cliché. But I've got to say, I was somewhat surprised, and especially with myself for watching the whole season in one night only (but I never said I was not all about the bingeing trend on Netflix.)
Nevertheless, as a French person, lots of details hit me while discovering the different scenes in every episode from season 1. As a result, I allow myself to point out some truths and some less truths used throughout the show and explain why it made me deeply miss the city of love.
I. Je parle un peu français already
(:I speak a bit of French already)
A few years back, I decided to stop interacting in French. When I first stepped into the city that never sleeps, I just wanted to express myself in English and forget about where I was coming from (so, France) and about my native language (you guessed it: French.) I believe I no longer wanted to have anything to do with anything related to maternal stuff. Yeah, tell me about Mommy's issues.
Except, the brain doesn't forget a language that has been practiced for years and years, and to be honest here, I still needed to use a bit of it to speak with my friends who were still in France and the rest of my family. Problem is, I wasn't doing it on a regular basis anymore.
Eventually, after a couple of years, I ended up telling myself that French was such a complex language to learn with its confusing article genders, its different verbal forms, its wide range of adverbs, and shit, that it'd be better off not to forget too much about it.
So, when Emily in Paris came to the screen, that was a fun exercise to do. Listening to French and English similarly, and see if anything had changed in the use of my native language since I left my country. Yeah, sure, Mathilde.
But I gotta say, I was first between two feelings regarding that concern. And probably because I'm no longer used to hearing French people talking next to me every day, I felt like the way the actors spoke was not completely natural (even though most of the cast is French.) Ironically, I much preferred when everybody was talking in English; from my perception, they were all acting better in this language. But I still liked the use of both languages, and I found it very hilarious to hear casual words that are pretty relevant in Frenchs' daily talks. Although chances are, if you didn't grow up in France or never lived there, you might not understand plouc (:hick), ringarde (:for someone who looks basic), or even expressions like on est pas rendu (:well, it's not gonna be easy) without a good translator.
But in the end, the show did its homework: it made me want to read books in French again and watch more shows in my native language.
II. Let's be straightforward, shall we?
Oh.My.God, if I were not French myself, I would never befriend one of them! I told myself after watching the first episodes of Emily in Paris.
That's what the show enlightened by pointing out, let's say, the nasty spirit of people living in the capital. But there is a hidden reality very interesting behind that myth.
Even though I think that part is not entirely wrong, you still have the chance to meet good people in Paris, with a way more open-minded attitude towards Americans. And it seems like Gabriel and Camille are part of that population.
Therefore, from my point of view, when Emily goes to her job place for the first time, the way she is received is. . . a bit extreme. I'm not saying that you would never meet a boss like Sylvie, but observing the whole team acting the same, put another way – like assholes – it's a little bit too much.
Now, if you kept on digging in the show further, you might have noticed that everybody's behavior morphed into a more relaxed attitude afterward. And why is that?
Well, Parisians are not very comfortable with anything they do not know (English language, for example), and God knows they loathe situations that remind them they are no master in everything. They often get defensive at first, and unfortunately, it's a bit of a cultural thing.
In general, French people have a hard time trusting anyone or anything before it's proved to them it's safe to do it. But once they acknowledge a new change (like Emily's arrival, her marketing point of view, and her very American act in the series for instance,) they usually start releasing tension.
Overall, I'd say French people need some time to get used to something new (which might be more or less extended depending on the person,) but let's keep in mind that they are not as demonstrative as people from other nationalities can be. They do not express their emotions easily and do not smile all the time. Thus even if they end up being okay with a new situation, chances are, they won't show it. Nonetheless, it doesn't mean they never feel happy or even grateful; I think it's more a matter of being straightforward towards new people (instead of qualifying it as rudeness.)
Besides that, if anyone takes some time to hang with French people, they might realize that in reality, they are mostly very friendly – and big charmers – and who would think of such a thing in the very first place?
III. I'd like gourmet meals, please!
I have to say, each episode from season 1 whets my appetite. Each time Emily stops at the bakery store to binge on a croissant or spend some time at the restaurant with her friends or co-workers just resonates with my missing the food and dishes from France. Can't lie on this one; not only has French food the superpower at fixing any frustration, but it's also incredibly delicious.
Even though I like to binge on a good American burger or prep some peanut butter & jam sandwiches sometimes, I'm seriously craving French food in my daily life.
Now, if you've ever wondered if French people always eat gourmet food, the real answer is. . . no. French people, especially Parisians, are in general very busy people, so they surely don't have time to cook perfect meals deserving a five-star rate every day. Therefore, cooking Gabriel's omelet for brunch is something French people rarely do in their daily lives. (a piece of bread with salted butter and jam will do the work.) And yet, they are very aware of the quality of food. Even stores specialized in high-end frozen food make sure to meet French people's expectations regarding food texture and taste.
On top of that, I want to mention that buying croissants or the so-called pain au chocolat every day for breakfast or snack like Emily does in the show is a stereotype. Trust me; if French people were doing so, they would all be overweight, so. . . no, but it's very common to binge on those for a specific occasion when having brunch with friends or family, for instance. God, I miss those times!
IV. Chambre de what now?
(:Room of what now?)
Let me tell you, I'd be thrilled to have an apartment as Emily has in the show. She arrives in Paris in this all furnished apartment named chambre de bonne (:maid's room), but here's on thing, when you have been living in a real maid's room in Paris, you can tell that Emily's apartment has nothing to do with that. Let's not forget it's a show, and the production needed some room for cameras and equipments to capture the scenes, so obviously it's bigger than it is in reality, but if you ever happen to move into such an apartment, keep in mind it's like living in a shoebox. Yeah, it's a bit like the various tiny dorm rooms you can visit in New York, with a kitchen and a shower included, so. . . yep, very tight.
On the other side, you could think it's the perfect opportunity to build a very cozy place. However, I can't help but wonder why someone who works in such a successful marketing company – and wears Chanel, and Louboutin items on a regular basis, not to mention the wide range of different outfits, including Chiara Ferragni brand – would live in a chambre de bonne?
Or maybe the question should be asked the other way around; how someone who lives in a chambre de bonne can afford all these marques de luxe?
Anyhow, Emily's apartment made me want to look for a place in the city of love and fly there right away to stay in for some time. (well, even though I write that article from New York City.)
V. The wine that never stops being poured
The best wines are the ones we drink with friends – and I agree with that statement, but its use in the show turned out to be funny. At least, for me.
If you binged on the show, you might easily have noticed that French people drink wine anytime, every time, all the time they pour some liquid in their stomachs.
Indeed, wine is the perfect representation of French culture, and this won't probably fade, like ever. But there is one thing about the series. . . um, ok, how can I explain that without shocking anyone. . . we drink with moderation. There you have it.
Reality is, French people l.o.v.e tasting a good wine, and they usually enjoy having it with a good gourmet meal. Still, they surely don't drink it early in the morning before lunch or in the afternoon for a tasty snack. I mean, they consume coffee, tea, and water too. Plus, some do not even drink wine during weekdays or do not drink at all because it's simply, well, let's say, not their cup of wine.
But the show was a nice reminder for me. I really miss sharing a good bottle of wine with my closest friends sometimes, which, well, gives me another reason to fly back there soon!
VI. Men's handsomeness is r.e.a.l
Why? Please, God, tell me why I left my country again?
This is the first thought that crosses my mind any time I visit France, and to be honest, it usually occurs when I look at French men around me. That same question came to my mind the minute Emily arrives in Paris, and especially when we are being introduced to Gabriel opening his door on the second episode of the show. . . –no comment–
Of course, Emily's neighbor looks like a model! (And it turns out Lucas Bravo's one in real life, and yes, I did my little research.) But along Emily's adventures, we see her meeting a few men such as Antoine Lambert from Maison Lavaux, Pierre Cadault's nephew named Matthieu, Camille's brothers, and some other dudes.
In the end, you could say the show cast only beautiful faces because, why not? Well, let me tell you: it's a reality.
French men truly are handsome, and not just the ones you see in the show. Most of them know how to dress and have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, which makes them very, very attractive. In addition to that, they are incredibly charismatic and charming.
On my end, the show made me feel a bit regretful, if not sad, for a minute to live on the other side of the ocean.
VII. One cigarette, two cigarette, three cigarette
The right way to count in France wouldn't be using the Mississippi word, but the Cigarette word. Indeed, after the baguette, the cheese and the wine to represent France and French people comes – the cigarette.
I think the only two characters who do not smoke in the show are Emily herself and Mindy. Well, put another way, the two who are not French.
Since I have been living in New York City for over half a decade, I somehow tend to forget that habit that French people see as a pleasure.
Nevertheless, as soon as I land in Paris, it is one of the first things I notice because of. . . the smell.
No, seriously, anywhere you go to, you can make sure you've at the very least one smoker in your perimeter. But thank God, back a few years ago, a new law passed in France forbidding people to smoke in public areas.
Therefore, when Paul Brossard, the founder of Savoir, introduces himself to Emily in Sylvie's office while walking around with a cigarette in his hand, chances are, it's no longer allowed in today's world. Founder or not.
But I get it. It is such a common thing to see people smoking in the country that it is no surprise that the show used that detail repeatedly in almost every episode. And ironically, I could almost miss smelling the cigarette smoke sometimes. . . almost.
VIII. Ratatouille's references
While the baguette, the cheese, the wine – and the cigarette – are a few details to summarize Frenchs' daily routine, there is also a movie that comes to mind when thinking of food and Paris altogether. Of course, I'm talking about the masterpiece Ratatouille. And that movie, my dears, has a very particular place in my mind and my heart.
Suppose you've ever watched the little rat digging in as a cook in Paris (and I hope for you.) In that case, you might have recognized some details that are, without the shadow of a doubt, a reminder of the Pixar movie.
Not only does Emily herself mentions it when face timing her former boyfriend from le pont de la Seine, but the music being played during the end credits in episode 1 is also very, very similar to the movie.
Finally, the best reference for me is probably the scene when Gabriel seduces Emily with his skills as a chef and cook nothing else than an omelet and looking exactly the same as – Rémy made for Linguini.
Even though here in New York City, I bump into a bunch of ratatouilles in my daily life, which remind me of the movie each time, I've secretly been wishing to spend some time on the roof of Paris lately, and even more so after watching the show.
VIX. La vie en rose
Shazam App kinda hangs out with me while watching the show, to be honest here.
For some reason, I'm more of a Frank Sinatra person in general. My New Yorker side has somehow gotten the upper hand over my French side in these last few years. Yet, when Mindy started singing La vie en rose by Edith Piaf in the park, it revealed my missing to listening classic French songs (and brought to light my desire to watch La Mome again.)
As a result, I ended up looking for any songs played in the show, which are mentioned here. And please, enjoy one of my favs, that I linked just down there.
X. Tell me joke, or maybe you don't need to
I believe French humor is one of the characteristics that I genuinely crave for from time to time. (but it's not unsafe to say that not everybody has a good sense of humor in France.)
Nonetheless, even though I do not consider Emily in Paris as being exclusively a comedy show in the very first place, some scenes turned out to be particularly comic when English and French are mixed.
As someone who speaks both languages, I think it's even more amusing to observe the play of puns used in the show (the scene at Camille's parents when everybody is talking about Gabriel's cook is quite hilarious, for instance.)
Besides, watching French people interacting in the show and being prone to using irony (and sarcasm) reminded me of the way I usually joke and talk with my family and friends when counting some of my adventures.
Last but not least, Emily in Paris was a cute reminder regarding all the aspects I didn't realize I was missing about Paris. Even if the version of the capital and the way Parisians lead their lives in the show seem perfect – thus, not entirely realistic – I truly miss the place and my cherished close people there. Hopefully, I will be able to post some articles on Vocal from Paris soon and tell many crazy stories that happened to me while being there.
Until next time,