5 things Emily in Paris STILL gets wrong about France (by a French fan)

Lucien Laviscount as Alfie, Lily Collins as Emily, Lucas Bravo as Gabriel in episode 305 of Emily in Paris
Just how close to reality is Emily's Parisian life? (Image credit: STÉPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX)

It is a well-known fact that when Emily in Paris first hit Netflix a few years back, the Darren Star show swept away the streaming service subscribers thanks to the undeniable charm of its main character.

Emily, through her joie de vivre, how she stumbles her way through life in the French capital city, and her general kindness became an ex-pat all wanted to watch. 

Everyone loved it. Everyone, except the French.

For us Frogs, Emily in Paris was about as French as a donut and swam in a sea of clichés. Now onto Emily in Paris season 3, one could have hoped the show would have made progress in its writing and stopped relying so much on stereotypes to make Emily’s story more authentic. But, let’s face it, this is not the vibe of this over-the-top Netflix series.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes Emily in Paris addresses some truths about France and French people, like how much we love our hour-and-a-half-long lunch breaks and chain smoking cigarettes, but it must also be noted that Emily’s Paris only exists in this show.

Here are some of the places the show is going wrong...

The Paris of the 1%

What kind of fairy tale life is this? Emily is a young marketing professional living in a giant chambre de bonne (spoiler alert: a real chambre de bonne is tiny and has shared toilets on the landing). She dresses in couture, never seems to need to use the Metro, and spends her entire paycheck on everything but regular life expenses. Her time in Paris is about eating at the best restaurants, drinking all le champagne, and taking the occasional trip to the south of France. 

There is absolutely no way Emily can afford her way of life, but a picture-perfect representation of Paris must be all about the glamorous, right? No one wants to see her spend time commuting to work on a busy train or get insulted by a driver for not crossing the road fast enough. Emily’s Paris is a fantasy and it’s too bad because putting Emily in some real situations, like fighting off pigeons on the parvis de Notre Dame, could maybe add a dash of reality to the show.

Leave the beret at home, Em

Emily in Paris. (L to R) Lily Collins as Emily, Lucien Laviscount as Alfie in episode 209 of Emily in Paris

Emily, not everyone in Paris wears a beret. (Image credit: STÉPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX)

Paris may be the city of fashion but there are limits and in France, people will judge you without hiding it. Just like I am doing it right now writing these lines! So when Emily wears bright, knee-high socks in the middle of July and walks into the office looking like a pufferfish, French eyes are rolling. I mean, there’s a reason Pierre Cadault called her ringarde… And the berets! Enough with the berets! In season 3, Emily’s outfits are still over the top, and so are Sylvie’s, who is at times sophisticated and at others, well… not so much. 

Also, not everyone in Paris is constantly dressed to the nines. In season 3, there is a scene where Gabriel and Camille go to the Musée d’Orsay and not only are they gorgeous-looking in their fashionable outfits but everyone else on screen is as well. Anyone who has been to a museum in Paris will tell you it is packed with tourists waving cameras around and sporting their very best pair of breezy pants. The vibe is less Beyoncé and Jay-Z at the Louvre and more Britney going to the grocery store.

No one, absolutely no one, speaks that much English

In season 3, while the show has made more efforts to feature dialogue in French when all the characters in the room are French, there is a scene where Luc has an entire phone call with another French person and their conversation is in English. That is the most baffling thing, because for one thing, we suck at English. We are much too proud of our language to care about learning Shakespeare’s. The amount of English in the show is definitely there to make things easier for English-speaking audiences. 

In fact, Emily should be fluent by now. Just because she is American would not make her co-workers talk to her in English all the time. No one in Paris would be that accommodating. They might be at first when their attempts at speaking to you in French only causes them frustrations and headaches, but they will not keep it up for long, let alone a year. By the end of her time at Savoir, Emily should have been able to say much more than “Bonjour” and “merci” otherwise her coworkers would have sent her American postérieur straight back to Chicago. 

Cheats, seducers, and all about that sexy life

What’s with the never-ending parade of lovers? Don’t go to France expecting that you’ll have a torrid affair with multiple people and it will all be peachy. That isn’t necessarily the most common of habits, at all. Camille and Gabriel’s relationship is a trainwreck from the get-go, even by French standards, and the way the show brushes off Sylvie’s affairs (what’s more, with a client!) is borderline outrageous. 

No, French people are not all down with the ménage à trois and not all French women will be cool with their man having a maîtresse. We have no fear of PDAs, just as much as we are unafraid of public demonstrations of anger. We invented making a scene by throwing you or your things out if you cross the line.

Lily Collins as Emily, Ashley Park as Mindy in episode 308 of Emily in Paris.

Emily's mission is to learn more French by season 4.  (Image credit: MARIE ETCHEGOYEN/NETFLIX)

Those mean French people

Okay, yes, French people, all over the country, not just in Paris (although in Paris they are especially good at it), can be grumpy, especially with strangers and tourists. That comes from a combination of lack of caffeine and hot-blooded tempers, but it’s not all of us. Emily sometimes witnesses this, like in season 3 when a client at Gabriel’s restaurant screams at her for messing up. There is no American cheerfulness there or British politeness, we go all out to express our anger.

The French in Emily in Paris can be petty and haughty like it's the case with Emily's co-workers (especially in the first season), and she continues to run into such people in season 3. But let’s face it, it’s funny because it’s a bit true.

Seasons 1 to 3 of Emily in Paris are available to stream now on Netflix.

Marine Perot is a freelance entertainment writer living in London. She has been writing about television for 10 years, which led us to work with various publications including Paste Magazine, Radio Times, Konbini, Giddy, and more. Her favorite shows include LostOutlanderGame of Thrones, and The Haunting of Hill House. When not writing, Marine enjoys going on adventures with her corgi and reading a good book.