We Love to Hate ‘Emily in Paris’ Because We Love to Hate Ourselves: American Female Viewer’s Ambivalence to “Emily”

Conference: The Paris Conference on Arts & Humanities (PCAH2022)
Title: We Love to Hate ‘Emily in Paris’ Because We Love to Hate Ourselves: American Female Viewer’s Ambivalence to “Emily”
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Margaret Tally, State University of New York, Empire State College, United States


The Netflix show "Emily in Paris", has generated tremendous media buzz over the fact that viewers supposedly love to watch it because they hate it so much. Created by "Sex and the City" showrunner Darren Star, Emily (played by Lily Collins), demonstrates all of the American qualities that French people, in particular, find so repellant. Some of her traits, like involving herself in other people’s business, allow her to get mocked constantly on the show. She is viewed as overly self-involved, obsessed with social media, and prudish as well as sentimental. The show allows viewers to "hate-watch" as she gets beaten up metaphorically for her being an ugly American. In Season 1 she was mocked all the time, and by Season 2 she is shown to become somewhat more acclimated to Paris. For American viewers, this "love-hate" relationship tends to mirror their own self-understanding as well as their own ambivalence about their millennial privilege and "Karenness". This presentation will look at the reception of "Emily in Paris", by American audiences, in particular, white women, and their own working through of their frustrations with white womanhood during the post-George Floyd "reckoning" that has taken place in the United States. In addition, I will explore the critical reception of the show by critics and cultural commentators, to explore the ways that American privilege was put on display against the backdrop of a fantastic version of Paris.

Virtual Presentation

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