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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Is Emily Cooper the modern Carrie Bradshaw? Find out for yourself with ‘Emily in Paris’

TV legend Darren Star proves he’s still got it with this Netflix fashion sitcom starring Lily Collins
(Stephanie Branchu/Netflix)

If you haven’t heard of Darren Star, odds are you certainly know his work. We’re talking about the creator of “Sex and the City (SATC),” “Beverly Hills: 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Younger” and now “Emily in Paris.” Considering that a large chunk of my personality is built around these shows, I have been counting down the days for his latest release that aired on Oct. 2 on Netflix. If the influential oeuvre behind Star isn’t enough to get you excited, Patricia Field, a.k.a. the award-winning and Oscar-nominated costume designer for “The Devil Wears Prada,” was the mastermind behind the many glamorous looks worn by the cast. 

The premise of the show follows a young, tech-savvy millennial who finds herself taking an unexpected marketing job in Paris without knowing a lick of French. 

The comparison between protagonist Emily Cooper and SATC’s Carrie Bradshaw has to be made. At one point in the show, Emily types on her keyboard while her voiceover narrates her inner monologue, taking me back to SATC so fast I almost got whiplash. Both are equally fabulous in their choice of accessories and extravagant city lives, but the similarities pretty much end there. To me, Emily represents the modern twenty-something year old, which Carrie would have most likely despised. She is all about embracing new technology and taking advantage of social media, while SATC fans know that Carrie could hardly work a flip phone, let alone an Instagram marketing campaign. 

Additionally, SATC captures Carrie’s adventures in a city she knows with friends she loves in her thirties but “Emily in Paris” is about a girl in a new city needing to make friends—I would compare this aspect to Carrie’s arrival in NYC in “The Carrie Diaries.” Another key difference between the two leading ladies is that Emily prioritizes work and professionality above almost everything, something we cannot say about Carrie. However, given that Carrie’s job is to write about love affairs and wild experiences, we excuse her unrealistic livelihood. SATC’s Charlotte York, a striking secondary character, finds herself reborn as Emily’s friendly companion: Camille. In early seasons of SATC, Charlotte worked as an art dealer who dreamed of owning her own gallery and new-and-improved Camille works as *drum roll please* an art gallerist. Both have kind hearts and lend a compassionate hand to the struggling protagonist. However, Camille is definitely more modern in her ways than beloved traditionalist Charlotte. 

I’ll admit the first episode of “Emily in Paris” is a tad painful, as the midwesterner protagonist gets transported to the chic city of Paris (cue the American-in-Paris jokes). Her coworkers instantly dislike her and give her the nickname “la plouc” (the hick).

Emily and Camille (Stephanie Branchu/Netflix)

Emily’s cruel boss, Sylvie, instantly resembles a French Miranda Priestly. Since Darren Star is a Maryland native, we don’t know exactly how accurate his portrayal of French culture is, but he does poke fun at the comparison between the American and French workplace after having lived in Paris for several months in his twenties. One of the first lessons Emily’s co-workers teach her is that the French “work to live,” while Americans seem to “live to work.” According to Star, “Emily in Paris” has fulfilled a long-time regret of his career in television: not having a show based in Paris. He grew up quite the francophile, taking French lessons from elementary school through college, and made it to the city of lights (and love) at 19 during a backpacking trip through Europe. His love affair with the city never ended, hence the idea for Emily in Paris was born. 

Now time for the good stuff—I don’t know what made me fall harder for this show: the extraordinary fashion or the beautiful Parisian men. Star calls the show a “romantic comedy on steroids” after all. Emily starts off the series with a longtime boyfriend back home in Chicago *SPOILER ALERT* but as soon as we lay eyes on the gorgeous Lucas Bravo as Gabriel, viewers can think of nothing else. Emily and Gabriel’s relationship is a little complicated so the two remain neighbors for the majority of the show, but as a result of these complications, we get to see a string of love affairs with *almost* comparable cuties. According to Bravo, he portrayed Gabriel with SATC’s Aidan Shaw in mind. 

As for fashion, Star makes statements bolder than the outfits picked by Patricia Field. We get to experience a visual evolution of the fashion industry, juxtaposing luxury streetwear and haute couture fashion houses. Additionally, the democratization of luxury is touched on as “ringarde” (basic) Emily adopts designer labels and is criticized by elite wearers. Star also makes sure Emily keeps the modern viewer in mind with various political statements—one of the episodes titled “Sexy or Sexist” showcases an argument between two differing generations. 

Emily and Gabriel (Stephanie Branchu/Netflix)

The relationship between media and these industries are also explored as we see Emily defend the importance of traditional marketing while maintaining a new influencer status. The argument between free social media publicity and marketing campaigns is illustrated in a fun, digestible fashion. 

While “Emily in Paris” can certainly be compared to the likes of SATC, I would recommend watching the show without expectations of seeing Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte reincarnated. To me, the show is a mix between SATC, “The Carrie Diaries,” “The Bold Type” and “The Devil Wears Prada;” i.e. a perfect storm. That might seem like a lofty list to be compared to, but I genuinely felt “Emily in Paris” incorporated elements of each which did them all justice. Lily Collins shines as Emily Cooper and lets us live vicariously through her fantasy life of couture and croissants. Sure, the show might be a little unrealistic and a little predictable, but it is dreamy and fun (don’t we all need a little bit of that in the Q?). If you are proud to be “ringarde” (like Emily and myself), then add this show to your watchlist. 

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About the Contributor
Sahanya Bhaktaram
Sahanya Bhaktaram, Former Life Copy Editor
Sahanya Bhaktaram ('23) is studying Communication Studies with minors in Business and the History of Art. She can be reached at [email protected].
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