Beret, baguette, sex: Netflix's Emily In Paris trending in France and Singapore despite being panned

Lily Collins as the titular Emily in Netflix series Emily In Paris.
Lily Collins as the titular Emily in Netflix series Emily In Paris.PHOTO: NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - Emily In Paris, the new series by Sex In The City creator Darren Star, has quickly become one of the most viewed shows on Netflix, though it has been endlessly mocked for its many cliches about France.

The comedy drama series was the most-watched show for at least four days last week on Netflix in France, The Financial Times (FT) reported last Friday; in Singapore, it was at the top of the Netflix charts as of Sunday (Oct 11) afternoon.

The show follows a smart and outspoken American named Emily (Lily Collins) who moves from Chicago to Paris for a social media strategy job but finds herself grappling with the culture clash. The fashion conscious show has drawn comparisons to Sex In The City (1998-2004), with Collins getting to wear many fab outfits as Emily.

But the series, released on Netflix on Oct 2, has drawn much ridicule for its depiction of the French capital and its inhabitants.

Britain's The Guardian quoted a French newspaper's comments on the show: "The berets. The croissants. The baguettes. The hostile waiters. The irascible concierges. The inveterate philanderers. The lovers and the mistresses. Name a cliche about France and the French, you'll find it in Emily in Paris."

French television presenter Marjorie Paillon told FT that Emily In Wonderland might be a better title for the show. "It's a Paris that does not exist, just as the New York in Sex and the City wasn't one that New Yorkers recognised. It's soooo pre-Covid. It's so 2000, it's not 2020."

On social media, some mocked Emily for landing a social media strategy job at the beginning of the series when she had only 48 followers on Instagram. Emily's first friend in Paris - Mindy, a nanny from Shanghai teaching French children Mandarin - was also roundly criticised for her poor command of Mandarin.Mindy is played by Ashley Park, an American actress of Korean descent.

Still, many found the show a good distraction during Covid-19.

"I wasn't annoyed for a second," Julia Benke, a 32-year-old Parisian corporate lawyer, told FT. "I was hooked from the first episode. It's very girly...I spend all day thinking about serious things, and this is a distraction. We need things to make us smile. In the time of Covid, we don't need more to stress us out."

Singaporean sales manager Jon Ho, 43, who finished watching the series in one night, says the show offers "lots of Paris sights, guess it's good for the travel-deprived now". "Every guy (in the show) is a hunk and Lily Collins is a more appealing version of Jessica Parker," he says, with the reference to the star of Sex In The City.