Why Emily in Paris should have taken French lessons with Monceau

I’m always optimistic at the beginning of a year. The first day of the first month, symbolically there’s nothing better to help bring in new change, yes I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions.

This year, however, I failed like I was still in 2020, within the first week of supposedly sleeping earlier, drinking less coffee and doing more exercise (I told you I was an optimist), we binged watched until the early hours of Saturday morning, the entire season of Emily in Paris.

Why? Was it really that good? Yes and no.

french lessons in paris

Firstly, I love the feel good movie of The Devil Wears Prada and thought that this was similar (and it was, sorry, spoiler!). Second, we just wanted to watch something upbeat and less gloomy for the beginning for the year. Third, being a Brit and living in France for the past 10 years I was also curious as to how Emily would fair. (More spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned).

Emily is a young American from Chicago, working for an ad agency and tasked with coming to Paris to represent the American market in a recently acquired French ad agency. She’s the typical annoying Generation Z, living in the now now now, like button seared onto her fingertip, addicted to follower-count dopamine, speaks Instagram and twitter, all of which is making me feel like a dinosaur and I’m only 40.

Despite the generation gap between Emily and I, we still had to go through the same s*#t like any foreigner when arriving in Paris. So as I cringed through the episodes I totally felt for Emily as she stumbled through the cultural gauntlet of the French business world, and of all sectors, it had to marketing. Marketing! The faux-pas. The lack of Bonjour. The meanness of some French people. And need I mention the glares, smirks when she strutted around wearing her overly loud uber fashionable clothes in way-to-high high heels over cobbled stones. My husband thought it was a stunt double, literally. Juxtaposed, you have the oh-so-chic, effortless and timeless Parisian look. Emily obviously didn’t get her copy of Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange, the ONLY ESSENTIAL gift you should offer any girl heading to Paris.

So was it really that good? The reasons why it was bad was also why it was good. The easy clichés and stereotypes were entertaining, sometime predictable but there were some surprises. This is what I learnt from watching it:

  • By far the biggest point is – do your homework before moving to a new country. Learn the culture, learn the language. Doors will open and life will be a lot easier, and happier. That goes without saying, being able to speak the native language of your host country is the only decent and respectable thing to do. In Emily’s case, she should have taken lessons with Monceau Langues.
  • Be prepared for la resistance. French companies don’t like change, especially coming from a young American Gen Z. So be prepared for retaliation. In this case, the series portrayed French businesses as slow on the uptake of social media as a communication tool.
  • French men are complete flirts and they do not understand the concept of dating (you’re an item straight off the first kiss). A point my husband still denies.
  • Apparently French couples get bored after a certain time and it’s ok to have mistresses, even with the missus’ blessings. A point my husband vehemently denies.
  • You are French because you savour love, life, enjoyment and time. Le savoir-vivre baffled poor Emily for most part of the series. Something which non-travelled Americans will probably never understand.               

And like any New Year’s resolution, they’re as easy to break as they are made. So, if you’re looking at learning a new language or perfecting it, travelling or working abroad, don’t make the same mistake as Emily, now is as good a time as any. As for me, I will continue with my broken resolution on weekdays only.

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