Darren Star's breezy new romantic comedy Emily in Paris recently hit Netflix. And while I struggled with the show's inability to properly address Emily's flaws and American stereotypes, I binge-watched all 10 episodes in one sitting, devouring them like a Halloween-sized bag of Starbursts, knowing full well the entire time the sugar was bad for me, and yet I couldn't stop.
In the Netfix Original, Lily Collins stars as Emily Cooper, an ambitious millennial from the Midwest who is skilled at social media strategy and marketing. She moves to Paris to offer an American perspective to the French luxury marketing firm her company just acquired. While watching Emily flounce around the City of Light, I noticed a number of similarities to Star's TV Land series Younger. In Younger, Sutton Foster stars as Liza Miller, a 40-year-old, recently divorced mom of a college freshman who put her career on hold to raise her daughter. When she attempts to get her foot back in the door of the publishing world at the start of the show, she has to lie about her age in order to land a job as an assistant.
Based on the loglines alone, you can't see how similar Emily in Paris and Younger are. As in, they are basically the same series. But here are seven things that prove Emily in Paris is just Younger set in a new city.
A workplace setting offers a solid foundation for any show, and since Emily is obsessed with work and it gives her purpose, it makes sense the episodic arcs of Emily in Paris revolve around Emily's career at the marketing firm. But like Younger, in which Liza has to overcome different obstacles in the publishing world every week while torn between two men, the reason we're all really here is the romance. It's the sexual tension that radiates between the plucky heroine and the men in her orbit. So while we all put up with the work stuff, it's the budding relationship between Emily and Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), the sexy downstairs neighbor whom Emily meets after she repeatedly tries to break into his apartment (she can't count floors properly), that is the real draw here.
Each episode of Emily in Paris presents its heroine with a new challenge at work, whether it's as simple as proving to her boss she is capable of handling the latest curveball she's been thrown or something much bigger, like babysitting an out-of-control movie star and then losing the $2 million watch she was wearing. But every single obstacle is artificial, as Emily is so bright and so good at her job that all problems bounce right off her. She is always able to save the day with some brilliant new idea of hers, showing up everyone around her at the last minute. The same thing regularly happens to Liza, who, after coming up against a problem, finds some way to spin the issue in her favor or is able to make a deal to stop the latest problem from blowing back on her. It can be a bit tiring, so it's a good thing there are other storylines to keep the show feeling fresh.
Emily spends a lot of the show's first season attempting to impress her boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy Beaulieu), who rarely suppresses her disapproval of Emily and her loud, American way of doing things, but who is often the best part of the show. On Younger, Liza starts out as the assistant to Miriam Shor's statement-necklace-obsessed and fan-favorite character Diana, and Liza spends a lot of time over the years trying to impress her and befriend her. Liza is eventually successful in this department; I'm not sure Emily is ever going to reach that level with Sylvie, but I like to think Sylvie and Diana would be friends.
Emily's first (and best) friend in Paris is Mindy (Ashley Park), a twentysomething Chinese woman who spent some time in the States for junior high and is now working as a nanny in Paris. Unlike Emily, Mindy is full of life and is confident in every aspect of her life except her career. Younger's Debi Mazar fills a similar supporting role as Maggie, Liza's best friend who is an outspoken artist. She's a sounding board for Liza, but she also exists on the periphery of much of the main action like Mindy, which is a shame, because both characters are a nice distraction from Emily's own drama.
While Emily is a rising star in the marketing world, Hilary Duff's Kelsey is similarly young and talented as a rising editor in the book world -- she has her own imprint! -- and because Liza has lied about her age and everyone in the office and publishing industry thinks she is in her mid-to-late 20s, this could also apply to her as well.
Emily finds out too late that Gabriel is in a relationship, but while she pines for him and befriends his girlfriend, she is pursued by a couple of older men, mainly Mathieu (Charles Martins), who also happens to be a rich and powerful client. Things aren't quite the same for Liza on Younger, as the show kicks off with her embarking on a relationship with the much younger Josh (Nico Tortorella). But sparks soon fly at work with Liza's boss, Charles (Peter Hermann), who is technically her age, but he does not realize this. The apparent difference in their age isn't a problem so much as the power dynamics that come into play because of their professional relationship. So it will be interesting to see what happens in a potential second season of Emily in Paris and if they'll explore similar issues.
Emily does not know Camille (Camille Razat) is Gabriel's girlfriend when the two meet, but they eventually become good friends despite Emily's secret feelings for Gabriel. Meanwhile, Liza meets Pauline (Jennifer Westfeldt), Charles' ex-wife, through work, but she does not know who she is at first. They become friendly as Liza edits Pauline's book, and things get complicated when the truth come outs -- especially when Pauline also finds out Liza's secret. So we can only guess at what will happen when Camille discovers that Emily has slept with Gabriel.