If "Emily In Paris" Is What Modern Dating Looks Like, Count Me Out

“Emily in Paris” is the newest show by “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star, and it’s the perfect show for a quick escape to the glitz and glamour of Paris.

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
emily-in-paris-hookup-culture netflix
Netflix/Emily In Paris/2020

Though the show has been blasted by French critics for relying on stereotypes, Emily in Paris also provides great social commentary on how broken our modern dating culture is.

The Parisian Lover Fantasy

Paris is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world. With the beautiful scenery from the Eiffel Tower, cobblestone streets, and cafes alongside the Seine, who hasn’t dreamt of falling in love in Paris? 

The idea of falling in love in Paris is all over popular culture, most famously in the 1942 film Casablanca. It’s a favorite of many, myself included, for it’s heartbreaking and moving love story. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) fall in love in Paris. Then they’re torn apart when the Nazis invade Paris, reuniting Ilsa with her husband, who she believed was dead when she fell in love with Rick. When Rick and Ilsa acknowledge that they can’t be together despite still loving each other, Rick says the famous line, “We’ll always have Paris.”

I like to call this trope the “Parisian lover fantasy,” and it’s woven through the narrative in Emily in Paris.

The Majority of These Men Just Want To Hook Up

After Emily and her boyfriend from Chicago break up due to distance, Emily decides to indulge in her own Parisian lover fantasy. Unfortunately for Emily, most of her Parisian suitors are terrible (mild spoilers ahead). The only one with redeeming qualities is her neighbor, Gabriel, whom she has a crush on for the majority of the show. Though he conveniently forgot to tell Emily about his girlfriend after hanging out multiple times, he genuinely cares about Emily, admires her kindness and passion for her job, and shows he wants to get to know her outside the bedroom. The same can’t be said for the other men.

First, there’s Antoine, one of Emily’s most prolific clients at her marketing firm that shows an interest in her. Emily’s boss, Sylvie, is his mistress, despite being a close friend to his wife. This doesn’t stop Antoine from creepily pursuing Emily through the show, especially when he bought her expensive lingerie to “help her feel confident.”

Netflix/Emily in Paris/2020

Emily also meets a guy at a party who helps her with her French, but she rejects him after they kiss and he says, “I like American p***y.” Props to Emily for rejecting that guy because he was so gross that I couldn’t even bother to remember his name.

There’s Mathieu, the nephew and business partner of another one of Emily’s most prolific clients. Though their relationship begins as entirely professional, it’s clear that he’s trying to pursue her when Emily hears about his reputation as a playboy. He shows off his wealth to impress Emily, making it clear that he frequently uses this tactic to get women in bed with him.

Last but certainly not least (as in the worst), there’s a professor named Thomas. He seems nice and fun when they first meet at a cafe, but his snobbery and creepiness comes out right after they have sex for the first time. He refuses to shower the next morning because he “doesn’t want to wash her off yet,” which was one of the creepiest and most disgusting sentences I’ve ever heard. Call me a prude, but that’s not romantic and sexy; that’s creepy and gross.

Netflix/Emily in Paris/2020

Things get worse when Thomas hangs out with Emily and her Parisian friends. Gabriel points out that Thomas is a snob and not a good match for Emily, but she refuses to accept this because the sex is good. The next day, Emily invites Thomas to a ballet, but he’s disgusted that she invited him to Swan Lake because it’s “touristy.” When she acknowledges his snobbery, he claims that her calling him a snob is “the last refuge of the simple-minded.” She dumps him on the spot after realizing that all he cared about was sex and not who she is as a person.

Hookup Culture Is Universal And Always Miserable

Reality shows like Too Hot To Handle and Love Island UK prove that hookup culture is prevalent around the Western world, and Emily in Paris shows scenarios that the majority of its audience can relate to. Most of us have dealt with a guy who is a creep who just wants sex or a guy who forgets to mention that he has a girlfriend, but Emily In Paris proves that being in these situations sucks no matter where you are. You’d think getting your heart broken in Paris would be better than getting your heart broken in a college town in the middle of nowhere, but the beautiful scenery, croissants, and wine don’t help heal Emily’s broken heart.

The rise of hookup culture has been disastrous for young women. It’s tougher for women in a culture that encourages them to "have sex like men" because women experience higher levels of oxytocin after sex, a hormone that creates feelings of attachment. 

Emily is at her happiest with a man who encourages her to be her best self and wants to get to know her.

Netflix/Emily in Paris/2020

Though there are times that Emily in Paris seems to celebrate hookup culture, it’s also clear that Emily is at her happiest with a man who encourages her to be her best self and wants to get to know her outside the bedroom (*cough* Gabriel). She thinks she wants a sexy Parisian man who wants a casual fling, but she recognizes that a healthy and fulfilling relationship actually requires companionship and longevity.

Closing Thoughts

Emily in Paris is a fun show about a young woman living her dream in Paris, but it also shows some of the problems many young women face in our modern dating culture. Most importantly, it shows that heartbreak is the same in a glamorous European city as your hometown. Though hookup culture appears to be liberating to Emily, she only finds happiness in companionship.