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Emily in Paris vs. Amanda in Paris : It's not all fiction

If like me you've spent the last month or so going back and forth between home and office in a semi-lockdown, then I'm sure you've also binge watched Emily in Paris on Netflix.

I was a little late to the game because I wanted to watch it all at once without any interruptions to be sure to pay attention to every detail and really see what all the drama was about. If you didn't already know the internet seems to be divided on this Netflix series between people who loved it and found it quite entertaining and those who think it's a huge stereotype and nothing near "real life" in Paris.

Well, I fall somewhere in the middle, and although I wish I could say it's all fictional, as someone who has lived in France, and most importantly as someone who goes to Paris often for work (or at least pre-2020) I have to be honest and say I definitely saw myself in Emily and her struggles.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time!
Amanda meets Eiffel Tower (2013)

Let me first start off my saying, I don't want to offend any French people through sharing my stories, and as many of my friends from Paris have told me, many of the situations I (and Emily) have found ourselves in don't represent the Parisian people as a whole, but could happen anywhere when two cultures clash. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with though...!

I think that a huge stereotype in the show, as my best friend pointed out to me, is that it's centered around the idea that an American girl fly’s in and "saves the day". I think that put a negative connotation around the reality of the multicultural situation that most international companies find themselves in. I think that in most cases there can be a harmonious collaboration between colleagues of different backgrounds or cultures.

That being said, here are some things that are real and have actually happened to me while living/working in France:

  • Showing up "on time" and waiting an hour for someone to arrive to open the door to the office or for the teacher to arrive to teach class

  • Being told to be "less American" (Europeans rarely differentiate between American and Canadian)

  • Asked to wear less colour and more black to "fit in"

  • Reminded that I can't expect things to "be done quickly" like they do in America

  • Told to stop smiling so much

  • Not being invited to lunch, and thus making "friends" with a stranger in a nearby park

  • Having nobody to spend "free time" with so always on FaceTime in public with friends and family back home showing them the beautiful sites

  • Thinking I can change the customer service culture at a restaurant, but in the end giving in and just eating the meal however it was served

Do I think that these situations are specific only to experiences in Paris or France? No, I think any expat moving to a new country for work could find a similar situation. Did I feel like Emily was Amanda while watching the show (other than the sex with a beautiful French man and all the couture clothes)? YES.

So, is Emily in Paris a true representation of life in Paris for an American? Well, I think it's a exaggerated version of reality, but deep down there's definitely truth underneath. Am I happy that they've announced today that they're coming back for season 2? OHHHHH OUI!

What are your thoughts on the show? Have you experienced anything similar while working or visiting another country?

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