9 Things Americans can learn from Emily in Paris
*Potential spoilers ahead, do not continue reading if you don’t want to know what happens*
Emily in Paris has taken women’s hearts by storm! Netflix’s recent show has been a hit, especially since so many people miss the experience of traveling and, for some, Paris the most.
While the show itself has become viral for the beautiful aesthetics and the crazy ideal life of moving to Paris and all of its beauty, there seems to be a disconnect from on-screen to reality for most people.
Paris is gorgeous- don’t get me wrong! But there is plenty of rustic scenes that make Paris beautiful that aren’t shown in the show.
1. You need to know basic French words
Just like if you were to enter a store in your home country and someone speaks to you and you ignore them, it will be perceived as rude as Emily had done to the Baker in Episode 1. It’s okay to not be fluent in French! Just know basics like “hello”, “goodbye”, “please” and “thank you” to be polite. Also, know how to say “I don’t speak French” aka “Je ne parle pas le français“. These small things will change your entire experience in France, as French people like to know that you are trying to understand their language and not arrive in their country expecting them to know your language (or English if your native language is another language).
2. Do French people really hate American coworkers?
Emily in Paris showcases several instances of office cliques and rudeness towards Emily and shows an overall hate of her from Emily’s boss, Clara. From what I saw, the main point of issue with Emily is that she arrived to Paris with no working knowledge of French and is forcing American practices on the French workplace. In terms of adding American practices, this is not inherently bad but the way Emily goes about her ideology on American ways is very ignorant (ex: when Emily tries returning the steak before trying it!). Neither way is better or worse, but it’s about the mindset of the person which is the main issue for some of the tension at the office.
I will say though, I have an Irish friend that worked in Lyon, France who had a terrible experience with her French coworkers. That being said, people will either have a good or bad experience being a native English speaker in a French workplace. It doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same experience and it’s unfair to assume all French people hate Americans (though sometimes it can seem warranted).
3. Parisians are rude – well yes and no
I have heard mixed reviews from people all over the world and in France. Most have said that Parisians are rude, it seems mainly to those who live outside of Paris in France. Others have said that they experienced very nice Parisians and never had a poor experience. To increase the likelihood to have a nice experience with Parisians, you should probably go back to #1.
4. Do not bring your American culture expectations to Europe, you will be disappointed
I think this is one of the toughest things for Americans to get over. Our schools and government have taught us that the US is the best and essentially everything revolves around us. If you bring this mindset to Europe and expect to be treated the same customer service as you would in the US, you will be sadly disappointed. As Emily learned the hard way several times, it is usually best to try the food first than send it back because it doesn’t look like what you expected. Also, research the menu and what are in the dishes beforehand so you don’t order something that you actually didn’t want or are allergic to.
5. College is High School and University is College
What I loved about Emily in Paris is it provided Americans a level of French cultural immersion without leaving your home! While Americans definitely would find the education structure of France confusing (trust me when I was first learning French I was definitely confused for a bit), it is not backwards or wrong, it is just how they name their institutions.
6. No, parents do not want to know about their children’s sex lives
I’m pretty sure the majority of parents are not interested in learning whether their children are “good lovers”, including French people. It’s frankly invasive and unsettling, and the show adds to the trope of French people being very focused on sex.
7. French people are not that casual about affairs
All of my French friends have discussed this part in particular, because their culture is just as monogamous as many other cultures. Although, some have mentioned that when you are single, there isn’t as much stigma of casually sleeping with many partners compared to other cultures. Either way, don’t assume those in committed relationships are okay with their partner cheating on them in France.
8. Learning new French words and culture
I know it may seem that I’m critical of Americans and their perceptions of France on Emily in Paris, and many people from all over the world were not impressed with the show either, but the show itself was a great way to highlight the many amazing aspects of French culture. From beautiful architecture to the very real struggle of climbing up six flights of stairs to one’s apartment (I can attest to this), and the overall experience of being and (generally) living in France. Now when viewers visit France they will know what Merde means when they hear it in the streets of Paris, thanks to Emily in Paris!
You can now watch Season 1 of Emily in Paris on Netflix.