‘Emily in Paris’ and the Joy of a Friendly Argument

On Facebook this week, I posted a quick review of the Netflix hit Emily in Paris. It stirred up a nest of lively opinions about the show—and some bittersweet memories.

Friends described the series as a lighthearted escape, a “guilty pleasure,” said one. They love the idealized scenes of Paris—”a cartoon Paris, sort of like the Las Vegas version,” another said.

“I enjoy it because … I love Paris and her clothes are too much!!” a third friend commented, referring to Emily’s often out-there wardrobe.

Striking a nerve

I love these comments. It’s clear: For many viewers, Emily is cotton candy, bringing a bit of fluffy escape from the day’s news. That’s wonderful. For others, though, the show strikes a frayed nerve.

For one friend, clueless American Emily trying to find her way in a spur-of-the-moment gig at a Paris ad agency is like “Ivanka Trump at the United Nations.” He described the show as “another example of the false narrative of American exceptionalism.”

Those are big words for a bit of television fluff, although Ted and I tend to agree. The story of a young American with little knowledge of French culture, history or language slaying Paris with her Instagram savvy isn’t exactly our cup of consommé.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to dwell on the quibbles we have with the show. That’s not what this blog is about. Instead, it’s a thank you.

A reminder of better times

This week’s friction on my Facebook feed reminded me of something I miss from the pre-Covid era: vibrant, in-person banter among strong-willed, opinionated friends.

I’m talking about the good-natured debates that spring forth during a Friday happy hour with co-workers, over coffee and cookies in the church fellowship hall, or a late-night dinner gathering at a restaurant with friends.

I’m talking about debates that aren’t impeded by masks or Zoom cutoff times. That don’t get mired in politics. Where new movies, plays, books, music—and heartfelt opinions about them—are the topic. And where sparky, spunky interaction brings people closer rather than driving them apart.

We don’t often get opportunities for those kinds of gatherings today.

If for no other reason, I like Emily for reminding me how priceless those gatherings are. I thank her for that. And I thank each of you who responded to my post about the show.

A rose for Emily in Paris

Today, Omicron cases are down. That’s encouraging news. Maybe something close to the old normal is approaching. We can hope, at least.

Meanwhile, we’ll have to be content with our spirited debates about the latest Netflix hit and other timely topics on Facebook.

I’m all for it. As the French would say, vive la différence.

From our trip to France in 2011, when we visited Paris and Bordeaux, sailed a barge down the Loire River and met some really cool, generous and friendly French people.

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