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From Darren Star, 'Emily in Paris' is a Great Way to Escape
October 2, 2020  | By David Hinckley

At a point when we need more rom-coms than ever, we keep getting fewer. That's a problem.

Emily in Paris is part of the solution.

Emily in Paris, which becomes available Friday on Netflix, follows a young American woman who suddenly finds herself working in, you guessed it, Paris.

Played by Lily Collins (top), Emily Cooper is endearing, charming, and just awkward enough to start out like a square peg in the round hole of France's capital city.

She's a girl in her 20s who just landed a dream job in one of the world's most scenic and romantic places. All she has to do is fit in.

That challenging process is what the show is about. It's not world-shaking or deeply profound, just delightfully human.

Emily specializes in social media promotion for brands, products, and people. She's on an upward track at her company in Chicago when her boss, Madeline (Kate Walsh), gets an offer to spend a year in Paris working with a French company their firm has acquired.

The idea is to integrate the French company's products with the products and promotion of the American company.

On the eve of her departure, Madeline discovers she is pregnant and decides she can't go. Since everything is already in motion, the company gulps and quickly offers the gig to Emily.

This is a bit of a stretch since Emily seems to have very little experience working in management groups. Unlike Madeline, she doesn't speak French.

So she's being thrown in the deep end. Still, how could anyone pass up an opportunity like this? Even her seemingly perfect boyfriend agrees, and they make plans to visit, like, all the time.

Things get a little tougher when Emily arrives in Paris and discovers that her new colleagues appreciate nothing about her dream situation. They don't like that an American was sent over, they don't like that she's a kid, they think it's arrogant that she doesn't speak French, and they have nothing but scorn for Chicago's signature food, deep-dish pizza.

Emily's new French boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), makes it clear she will do nothing to accommodate Emily. This is hard for Emily and good for the viewer because it gives Emily in Paris a strong whiff of The Devil Wears Prada. That's an association any rom-com about a young working girl with a tough boss can run with.

The rest of the French company's team initially contents itself with snubbing Emily at lunch and nicknaming her "the hick" But they are not all of one mind, and we get to see Emily slowly learn to parse them individually, starting with Luc (Bruno Gouery) and Julien (Samuel Arnold).

Her first breakthrough comes outside the office. Having been exiled from the company's lunch bunch, she's eating by herself on a park bench when she meets Mindy (Ashley Parker), a world traveler who happens to be in Paris at the moment working as a nanny.

Mindy becomes a friend, which eases the pressure and gives Emily a cultural guide. The thing to know about the French, Mindy explains, is that unlike in many other cultures, people are not rude behind your back. They are rude to your face.

This directness also applies to a stream of young Frenchmen who begin hitting on Emily the second she steps out of the taxi at her new apartment. She fends them off diplomatically, a situation that presumably could at some point turn fluid.

Emily's love life, both with the loyal boyfriend back in Chicago and potential suitors in Paris, will clearly be a major theme here, which is no surprise given that Emily in Paris is the creation of Darren Star, who earlier created Sex and the City.

A vignette at the end of the first episode gives us our first confirmation that there could be several shades of "rom" in this rom-com.

Emily in Paris is fun, upbeat, and lovely to look at. To all concerned: Thank you.

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