Why Emily In Paris' Creator Won't Apologize For Moments That Sparked Netflix Backlash

emily in paris lily collins
(Image credit: netflix press)

Ever since it first made its debut on Netflix in early October, the Lily Collins dramedy Emily in Paris has been a mainstay on the streaming service's Top 10 rundowns, with tons of subscribers tuning in to see Emily's fish-out-of-American-water story. Though U.S. audiences have been largely fine with everything about Season 1, Emily in Paris has attracted its fair share of criticisms from French viewers who have knocked the show for playing up old-hat stereotypes about France and its citizens. Show creator Darren Star has heard these complaints, and he's not apologizing.

Having also created such wildly popular shows such as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Sex and the City, Darren Star is definitely used to achieving success while also facing harsh critics. This is a somewhat unique scenario, since so many of the negative reactions are coming from outside the U.S. Still, Star is sticking by Emily in Paris' creative choices, telling this to THR:

The show is a love letter to Paris through the eyes of this American girl who has never been there. The first thing she is seeing is the clichés because it's from her point of view. I'm not sorry for looking at Paris through a glamorous lens. It's a beautiful city, and I wanted to do a show that celebrated that part of Paris.

That's certainly an understandable answer by all means. When people enter into new experiences, they often seek out recognizable elements as a security buoy of sorts. In the case of Emily's first trip to Paris, she brought with her all of the clichés that she'd picked up throughout her life in the U.S., so she's obviously going to adhere to what she knows, even if it makes her look dorky and out of fashion.

Granted, Darren Star's "through Emily's eyes" answer doesn't logistically extend out to explain ALL of Emily in Paris' international tropes. In its first episode alone, Emily in Paris features such well-established (though not necessarily current) stereotypes such as "French people can't get enough cigarettes" and "French people are rude to English speakers." Plus, it kicks off a storyline in which Lily Collins' Emily waltzes into her new job and attempts to show her French colleagues and employers how to better their situation, despite not speaking French or having any grand insights into their way of life.

Sure, Darren Star's explanation fits when it comes to the show setting Emily up with the Eiffel Tower in the background, or having her walk around with a grocery bag full of baguettes or whatever. But when it comes to character actions and details that are independent of Emily's experiences, that's when Emily in Paris arguably falls into the trappings that sparked the criticisms.

Not that it was only French viewers who knocked Emily in Paris. The show also drew ire from some Americans for its deep-dish pizza conversation in the premiere, during which Emily insulted the iconic Chicago pizza restaurant Lou Malnati's, widely considered one of the premiere homes for that particular kind of pizza.

Interestingly enough, Darren Star hasn't really been knocked too hard for the character of Emily herself. Thus, it marks yet another one of the creator's series with at least one female lead at the center of everything. (If only Emily had a Carrie or a Samantha around to bounce her thoughts off of.) When asked what the appeal was of tackling yet another show from a woman's perspective, here's how Star answered:

I enjoy writing female characters. I find it easy to see the world from their point of view; I find them very verbally expressive; they're vulnerable; they have challenges — they may not be mine, but I can relate to them.

Emily in Paris Season 1 is available to stream in full on Netflix. While waiting to hear news about a potential second season, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are hitting the small screen soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.