“Emily” (Part Deux)

I was going to start it on Friday evening, and had a little fun with it on Instagram…

[Emily in Paris on Netflix. From my Instagram Stories. Photo by me, January 7, 2022.]

But I did not start watching it. Well, last night we finally did. (My wife is unceasingly tolerant of me. LOL!) I have now seen two episodes of Emily In Paris series 2.

Television “travels” more now than ever before. But back in the “dark ages” (of the 1950s-1980s) television was far more “national” for all of us and many programs were not exported/imported to the extent they are now, and there was of course no net or streaming services like Netflix. (British, for example, watched Dallas and Dynasty on their domestic television, but not every little US sitcom of the 1960s-80s.) So American followers (especially if you like or have grown up watching old sitcoms on channels like TV Land) may better possess the background as to where I am going here.

I have not changed my opinion of it thus far from the first series. I talked about Emily initially late in 2020 also after seeing the first two episodes. In a post that concentrated mostly on addressing a view of the French as inherently “mean” people when it came to “Americans in Paris,” in part I wrote:

...we should remember that if you have not *seen* it done before – and a youngish U.S. Netflix audience in particular may not have – of course it is *NEW* to you. A whole generation has never seen the likes of 1951’s An American in Paris, 1979’s French Postcards, or 1995’s French Kiss. Much of what we see in 2020 Emily – aside from the Instagram aspect (“Emily’s” adventure in Paris and her Instagram postings is causing her follower numbers to boom), which is naturally a current phenomenon – is actually not very original.

Once again a tale revolves around the naive American beset in France by the difficult French. But “meanness” is not only directed at the American “Emily.” I did notice in one scene too that a “typical” cigarette-smoking and obnoxious Frenchwoman jibes at Germans as being “humorless.” (And speaking of clichés: the older Frenchman in the Paris office is smoking… like it is “1980?”)

There seems something in the American psyche that is incapable of treating French people, as, well, ordinary people. That is probably because it is drilled into the American subconscious by now almost from birth that “the French” stand out among Europeans as particularly “mean,” and as we see in Emily in 2019 (it was shot pre-pandemic obviously) that belief remains a part of American-produced entertainment...

Moreover, I still can’t shake off the feeling I also wrote of back then: how much it reminds me of a 1960s or 70s US “madcap” sitcom. I keep finding my mind drifting to the likes of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, or even Gilligan’s Island – programs with which American visitors here would probably most easily recognize and maybe have seen. Emily is similarly mostly silly escapism, overdone, stereotypical, and amusing at times and above all not to be taken very seriously – and you suspect even the actors know that, too.

Meaning it is also often as predictable a “sitcom” as they come. One example. In this second series in one scene “Emily” is standing in a train sleeper compartment answering a phone call from the man she had a “night” with, and HER BACK IS TO THE OPEN DOOR, and guess what… the guy she’s with on the train steps in unseen and overhears and after confronting her storms off the train seconds before departure (and she is left on the train). Wow, didn’t see that coming.🤔

I keep waiting for a caught out Elizabeth Montgomery to twitch her nose and say “Well…” or Larry Hagman to yell “Jeannie!”😂

[Tourists at the Eiffel Tower. Photo by me, July 1996.]

But in our pandemic and depressed world, a little 30 minutes of trouble-forgetting escapism and “unreality” is hardly a bad thing.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂

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