Those series we hate, but watch anyway – Il Post

Since its first season was released in October 2020, the Netflix series Emily in Paris he made a lot of noise about himself. It tells the story of Emily Cooper, a young American who at any moment is sent to live in Paris to “bring an American point of view” to a reputable French marketing company for luxury brands, which has just been bought by the multinational for which she work. The series is produced by Darren Star, the creator of Sex and the City and Beverly Hills 90210, and was nominated for Best Comedy Series at both the Emmys and Golden Globes last year. Netflix, which is known to cancel after the second season a lot of its series – even those followed by very ardent fans, such as The OA or Sense8 – he renewed Emily in Paris for a fourth season.

Starting from these premises, it would be logical to think that Emily in Paris is a much loved series. But, as had already happened after the release of the first and second seasons, even the third – available on Netflix from December 21 – was greeted by many comments on how predictable and empty the plot is and the unbearable protagonist, and in general about how unlikely the representation of his life in Paris is, between huge and luxurious apartments, flashy and always new clothes and spotlessly clean streets.

An expression that has been extensively associated with Emily in Paris it is “hate-watching”, i.e. the act of following a programme, series or film just to have fun making fun of its absurdities and mocking its poor quality, alone or in company, live or on social media and in chats group.

A meme about watching Emily in Paris while hating it: «What do I tell myself when I start watching the third season of Emily in Paris knowing I don’t understand the meaning of it, but I can’t let her go after two seasons: ‘Leave me alone, you illiterate sociopath'”.

While it can involve cheesy reality shows and cheesy TV series, which many watch avidly knowing that it is what is often referred to as “junk television”, hate-watching is generally dedicated to programs made with big budgets, involving directors, writers or famous actors, but who have objective limits that make them borderline embarrassing for many, even though they exert an attraction that someone is unable or unwilling to resist.

Among the series of the past that had a part of viewers who watched them while hating them, according to the comments that accompanied their broadcast, there is for example glee (TV series aired between 2009 and 2015, known for its dramatic and intricate plots and musical covers a little embarrassing), the sitcom The Big Bang Theory and Girls, the series that made Lena Dunham famous. Today the most famous series object of hate-watching is probably Emily in Paris.

“Every negative review I read about Season 3 of Emily in Paris it just makes it more likely that I will watch it. For reasons I don’t fully understand right now, there is nothing you can say about this abominable series that will stop me from watching it.” he wrote on Twitter journalist Imogen West-Knights. “God, how I hate and adore Emily in Paris. I can only keep watching this vacant trash television just to see what this bitch will do this time and what heinous dress she will wear to go wild in my beloved city.” the podcaster said Pip Jones. And, already in 2020, the critic Willa Waskin up Slate had commented that Emily in Paris he fully fell into the category of “hate-watches”, those who “put you in an awkward position with respect to yourself and your taste”.

“This bubbly, capitalist fantasy belongs to a category of programs that is very easy to judge. It’s a romantic comedy in a foreign country where nothing bad ever happens and the pretty protagonist fucks a lot and gets whatever she wants,” writes Waskin. “But the best thing about Emily in Paristhe thing that transforms it from the light and enjoyable series that it could have been to the drama that everyone enjoys insulting is the weakness of its protagonist ».

Far from being a complex female character, Emily embodies several clichés in an almost grotesque way: above all, that of the American abroad, who arrives in an unfamiliar context and expects it to adapt to her; but also that of the millennial obsessed with social networks, ready to post hundreds of photos identical to those already posted by thousands of other people to gain an online following.

– Read also: Ukraine’s culture minister takes issue with ‘Emily in Paris’

What particularly irritates viewers is the fact that, although Emily is essentially shown as an insipid, inexperienced, foolish, moralistic and unoriginal person – surrounded instead by people who seem to have a much more formed and interesting interiority and taste than hers – she remains the protagonist and everything always ends up going the way she wants. She gets the attention (even the love) of beautiful men she met by chance, lives in extraordinary apartments despite the well-known housing crisis in Paris, collects tens of thousands of followers on Instagram by posting things that in real life would have at most a dozen likes , convinces companies that invoice millions of euros a year to entrust them with their communication strategy through what are described as strokes of genius. In season three, she even ends up on the cover of culture magazine’s Le Monde as one of the most influential people in Paris.

“We’re talking about a woman who wears a French cap and a blouse embroidered with small Eiffel towers on her first day at work and candidly admits that she doesn’t know the language. At best, she’s embarrassing. At worst, she is a living embodiment of US cultural imperialism. In short, Emily is the antagonist of her own series, regardless of her dubious moral behavior, “he wrote on The Conversation Film Studies Professor at King’s College London Catherine Wheatley. “In the face of the ongoing demonization of Americanness within the series, love Emily in Paris it would mean loving just what the show tells us to hate.”

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The reporter of Boston Globe Matthew Gilbert tried to give explanations to the love-hate relationship he feels towards Emily in Paris: «I wanted to watch something cute and silly, but above all cute: after all, the series is a tour of Paris in its most dazzling form».

Other “hate-watchers”, interviewed by New York Post, said they enjoy watching glamorous people walking and fooling around in beautiful foreign cities, even more so if these people make terrible choices that allow viewers to judge them. “No one learns anything. Nobody grows. Emily is as much the protagonist as a passenger sitting in a Parisian taxi would be. But it’s not an aggressive or irritating series. She’s just pretty, and she’s there.”

Emily in Paris tells the kind of story where it can be assumed that nothing really shocking or bad will ever happen to the protagonist and her friends, which allows you to watch her distractedly, in the background to other activities, answering messages on her cell phone or making house cleaning. As early as two years ago, after the release of the first season, critic Kyle Chakya on the New Yorker he theorized that most people watched the series primarily as the ultimate example of “ambient television”:

The series seems to say that it’s okay to look at your phone all the time, because Emily does too. The plots are too thin to risk losing the thread. When you look up at the television again, chances are you’ll find tracking shots of the Seine or cobbled alleyways, lovely but meaningless. (…) Like gentle New Age music, Emily in Paris it is soothing, slow and relatively monotonous, its dramatic moments too predictable to be truly dramatic. Nothing bad really happens to our protagonist.

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Those series we hate, but watch anyway – Il Post

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