Like many of you, I just watched the Netflix series “Emily in Paris.” The Darren Star created show, he of “Sex and the City fame,” has been met with the kind of cool disdain and online eye-rolling here in Paris usually reserved for Madonna, so I was curious if it really was that awful. I went in expecting nothing but the intellectual nutritional value equivalent of a bag of potato chips, but hoped that it tilted a bit more towards the artisanal kettle chip variety and less like a Pringles or Lay’s.
I didn’t hate it, let me put it that way. Which is a very French way of complimenting something, by the way. C’est pas terrible is something one hears quite a bit discussing with friends the latest gossip over a shared plate of cheese and bottle of wine. There are stereotypes in the show for sure, but the criticism it has received is overblown. But it made me wonder what a comparable show might be if it were reversed with a French (gay) guy coming to live and work in Charlotte.
Picture this: Jean-Philippe doesn’t speak English very well and comes from a luxury-clothing brand that just acquired a small Charlotte based hip-hop clothing brand (in my retelling of the story). He has been hired to give his marketing expertise, but, as a white French guy, doesn’t know a thing about the Carolinas or their many subcultures. Oh, the hilarity that ensues! I don’t know about you, but I would watch that!
One aspect of the sucess of “Emily in Paris” is that it focuses on Emily’s perspective, of seeing things as an outsider, but something a native would never really think twice about. In Jean-Philippe’s case, he might have a panic attack going to the Food Lion in Plaza Midwood, spending several hours overwhelmed by the variety of choices. “They had 47 different kinds of ranch salad dressing to choose from!” he tells his co-workers the next day at the office, “in Paris at the Monoprix they have one!”
Many discounted the “Emily in Paris” aesthetic of capturing only the charming beauty of the center of Paris, and not having Emily living and working in one of the less photogenic neighborhoods — after all, the metropolitan area of Paris has more than nine million people and most live in non-picture-postcard apartments. Well, Netflix created a series that was more realistic, about a woman who made some questionable relationship choices and lived in a more realistic hardscrabble quartier; it’s called “The Eddy” and nobody watched it. I don’t want to watch “gritty and depressing.” Give me “sexy and escapist” any day.
So, when “Jean-Philippe in Charlotte” gets filmed and we see that he has a hip loft in NoDa, is having picnic dates in Romare Bearden Park with Cedric (his hunky next door neighbor), and zipping around on a scooter Uptown, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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