‘We’re not all sex fiends’: French people tell us what they really think of Emily in Paris
Just because it’s France doesn’t mean that smoking indoors isn’t still illegal
Nobody is angrier about Emily in Paris than the French themselves. Whilst the sweeping generalisations and old-fashioned stereotypes made for good TV, at times they overstepped the line from funny to insulting.
We spoke to French students about what they think of the show based on how accurate, laughably far fetched and plain rude the series is. The unanimous consensus was they weren’t impressed – from the overwhelming tones of American superiority to the trope that all French people are arseholes, they’re not here for any of it.
They picked apart all the key moments of the series, shone a light on the bullshit and spilt the cold, hard tea on why this show is severely inaccurate.
Smoking in the office
Accuracy level: 0/10
Smoking in public spaces, including offices, has been illegal in France since 2009. All of our French reviewers found it incredibly frustrating that half the cast just randomly light up a cigarette indoors, whether it’s a restaurant, office space or event. Marc, a French student doing his year in industry in Paris, told us: “Not everyone in France smokes these days, cigarettes are almost as expensive as they are in the UK, so lots of people quit because they can’t afford it”.
Whilst it may be très Francais to smoke your problems away, it is also très illegal so I don’t think anyone will actually be doing that.
Chambres de bonnes are cute Parisian flats with insane views
Accuracy level: 2/10
We spoke to Ester, a student from Paris, who told us that chambres de bonnes look nothing like how they are presented in Emily in Paris. Whilst Emily’s flat doesn’t live up to her overtly high ‘American standard’ that flat is still luxurious in comparison to the facilities typically seen in a chambres de bonnes. Ester told us that “they are usually no bigger than 7m by 2m and facilities such as bathrooms are communal and usually found on the landing.”
It’s clear that producers couldn’t have possibly left Emily in the ‘non-luxury’ of a real chambres de bonnes because it wouldn’t fit with Emily’s instragrammable French lifestyle.
Every Parisian is fashionable
Accuracy level: 5/10
The opinions on this were mixed. Marc told The Tab: “I mean the only accuracy of the show is that the French are the most fashionable nation on the planet”. However, many of our other French critiques thought that it was inaccurate. Chloé, a student at Sorbonne, said: “The dark tones, tight-fitting clothes is a way more Italian way of dressing than in France, in France people wear light clothes and they wear materials like chiffon and linen”.
So whilst Emily is supposed to be finding herself through a journey through fashion, the chances are the fashion she would have been exposed to is not the all-designer, all-black, chic looks we see on the screen.
Going to France doesn’t mean you’re going back to the 1800s
Accuracy level: 0/10
Aside from the anachronistic smoking storyline, half of the plot of Emily in Paris relies on France being this backward nation where they don’t even have modern comforts like lifts. Amelie said: “Paris is full of lifts, even the Eiffel Tower has lifts! What is this stupid storyline about the lack of lifts and the flooring system being wrong?”
She, along with all the British viewers, also find Emily’s conception of building floors ridiculous because worldwide the system is Ground, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5- none of this skipping out the ground-floor bollocks (that is literally just invented to give Emily and Gabriel a storyline).
People in France are super horny
Accuracy level: 2/10
We spoke to Sam, a British student who lives in France, about this one and he laughed as we asked. He made the point that “wherever you go young people will be horny”. He added that many French people are actually, or at least supposed to be, very religious in parts so not that many of them are sex-crazed individuals.
He made a point that they have a young population just like every other country and that “yes, young people want to bang, it’s not that hard.”
Amelie also told us that for many of her male friends watching, they found it hugely offensive that essentially all the French men in the series are presented as misogynists and it’s just not true. That cringe moment where Fabien says he “likes her American pussy” (sorry I had to put you through that awful moment again), seriously wouldn’t happen for two reasons: 1. who voluntarily wants to sleep with a loud, annoying American and 2. French people don’t speak like that, they aren’t all wankers who objectify women.
Sooooo, another Emily in Paris lie there!
French people are arseholes
Accuracy level: 5/10
This was possibly the point that split the jury the most, often depending on where in France they were from.
The Parisians we spoke to were adamant that they are not arseholes and that is a cliché. Celia, who lived in Paris for her whole childhood, told us how frustrating the ‘snobby’ trope was and whilst she lived in Paris it was just untrue. Marc also told us that “people in Paris are nothing like the people in the show and in many cases they are nicer than people in English cities like London.”
However, when we spoke to people from outside of the capital about the Parisians, their opinions were different. Sam said: “Many of my friends from Bordeaux said that it was a true enough stereotype of a person from Paris. They believed that typically Parisians are filled with self-importance, angry for no reason but they are not bitchy in the way that they are portrayed in the show.”
Everyone we spoke to said that the bitching and name-calling that goes on in the office towards Emily is incredibly ‘un-French’ and is something that has just been Americanised.
A French company will automatically switch into English for one non-senior member of staff
Accuracy level: 3/10
The way that Emily in Paris presents the flipping between French and English for Emily’s benefit during company matters is ridiculous. Sam works in Limoges, and said: “It’s absurd, the French would not willingly swap from French to English for one American.”
It seems that the reasoning for language switching is done for the joy of the English speaking audience but yet again, at the cost of the veracity of the plot. Marc told us: “Realistically Emily never would have got the job in Paris, nearly every big company in France, French or otherwise, will expect you to be fluent in French.”. So, in the real world, there wouldn’t have ever been an ‘Emily in Paris’ because she wouldn’t have got the job in the first place.
French people have never heard of Instagram and need an American to train them
Accuracy level: 1/10
This one confused people the most. Every person we spoke to was on Instagram and didn’t understand why on earth they needed an “American to bring them into the 21st century”. We checked and most major French universities even offer degrees and modules in ‘Digital Marketing’ which is what Emily has been brought over to do.
Amelie said: “It was so annoying that every marketing campaign that took off in the show was done in English, like come on, if you want to market to French people, market in French”.
So, almost everything Parisian about Emily in Paris is not French at all, it is just an incredibly naïve American stereotype of the French. Although perhaps it is these awful stereotypes that have us so hooked?