Is it time for us to apologize to “Emily in Paris”? I’m not sure I’m ready to do so yet, but I will admit that we all grossly underestimated the show’s popularity and impact over the past year — particularly among awards voters.
After all, it was the appearance of “Emily in Paris” as a Golden Globe nominee that helped almost take down the entire Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. When “Emily in Paris” received a Globe nod for best comedy, but the HFPA simultaneously ignored “I May Destroy You,” eyebrows were raised.
Then came the reveal: A group of around 30 HFPA members were wined and dined on the production’s dime, leading many to question whether an ethically challenged quid pro quo was at play. The HFPA has been racing to clean up its act in the wake of that revelation, as well as the even more embarrassing one that the group doesn’t have a single Black member.
But in July, Television Academy voters also nominated “Emily in Paris” in the comedy field. Did all of that Globes uproar actually help in promoting awareness of the series? If TV Academy members could fall under the charm of star Lily Collins without being flown first class by Paramount to see the Eiffel Tower, maybe the Globes nom was (gulp) legit?
Here’s what we know: “Emily in Paris” is addictive. It comes from Darren Star, who knows a thing or two about creating deliciously campy comedy set in glamorous locations, see: “Sex and the City,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose Place.” The show looks fantastic. And Collins is, indeed, a delight.
Did “Emily in Paris” deserve a slot among this year’s Emmy comedy series nominees? Not if it meant beating out worthy contenders such as “Mythic Quest,” “Girls5eva” or “Superstore.” Still, it clearly resonated in ways that I, and most of my fellow awards pundits, had failed to realize in making our initial predictions. (I did correctly guess the love for “Cobra Kai,” so give me some credit!)
Still, it turns out that for many voters, “Emily in Paris” was their “Cobra Kai”: The right show at the right time, checking all the boxes. Some critics that I respect, such as New York Magazine/ Vulture’s Jen Chaney, made it clear that “Emily in Paris” resonated because of its fantasy qualities: “‘Emily in Paris’ is a treat, a beguiling work of Netflix escapism, and also, let’s face it, the closest you will likely get to Paris in the next six months,” she wrote.
And then there’s Variety’s very own Daniel D’Addario, who in his review said the “series is a delight that poses the question of what it really means to grow up, against a truly inviting backdrop.” That’s right, the call was coming from inside my own house.
I asked Dan how he felt about “Emily in Paris” now, nearly a year after that review, and he says his opinion hasn’t changed. “It’s a cute, charming show whose placement in a list of best of any year is probably an overstatement,” he tells me.
But the nom “doesn’t strike me as an emergency, given the high number of shows the Emmys need to hand out. I suspect the show’s reputation precedes it somewhat even among those who haven’t tuned in: The very literal title, the jokes about the somewhat flat acting, all of this stuck to it especially among those who haven’t tuned in.”
Fine, “Emily,” bonne chance!
[An earlier version of this story suggested the HFPA was flown to France for the “Emily in Paris” set visit, but the organization paid for those flights themselves.]