Just when we thought that there was nothing in 2020 that could bring Americans together, Emily in Paris came out on Netflix, uniting Americans and even Parisians in a passionate outcry. Nearly every media outlet and Twitter account wrote a hot take on the show, criticizing everything from the prevalence of belted outfits to Emily’s work ethic. It’s the show we love to hate.
I personally love the show for what it is. A cliché fantasy of moving to Paris to work in fashion and start a new life. At a time when both the odds of travel and employment are dire, it’s an escape from reality. Plus, I was impressed by how creator Darren Star incorporated modern plot twists that set the series apart from his most famous work, Sex in the City. Over the 10 episodes, Emily dabbles with virtual sex, bisexuality and sleeping with a minor. Yet there is one element of millennial life that Darren glossed over, and I can’t forgive him for it, the dating app.
Despite moving to a new country where she doesn’t know anyone or the language, Emily never feels compelled to download a dating app. And why should she? Plenty of potential suitors pop up in her building and at work. Like most series today, Darren perpetuates the idea that love will find you naturally. When I mentally scan Netflix, Hulu and Prime, it’s hard to think of a show where the main romances originated from a dating app. I am tired of this fantasy.
I studied abroad in Europe in 2017 and even back then, my friends and I relied on dating apps to feed our love lives. As we rehashed these dating adventures over WhatsApp, I found them much more entertaining than those, “oh we met through mutual friends” stories. I wanted to watch Emily wade through the process of selecting a dating app, building her profile, and with her lack of French, trying to coordinate dates. Knowing her luck, she would probably end up at a serial killer’s house.
COVID-19 has only made dating apps more essential and with that more complex. At the beginning of the pandemic, people tried out virtual dates. As life regains some normalcy, it’s now a question of how far are you willing to set your dating radius. Do you ask about their last COVID-19 test? Is getting a free meal and drinks worth the risk? Or alternatively, how do you decide if the other person is worth taking on a first date and paying for their dinner with the potential of COVID-19 on the side? With so much fodder for episodes, I want the next series to fully embrace the culture of dating apps.
But creators are hopeless romantics, hung up on the idea of stumbling upon true love. Judging by my experiences using apps in New York and abroad, the results often seem just as random as bumping into someone on the street. Think about it. There are so many apps out there and so many profiles. Matching with someone, having a real conversation and actually meeting up requires at least some help from the universe.
So while people keep on ranting about Emily in Paris, I’ll be here waiting for a show that actually acknowledges dating apps. Or for my true love to find me on Hinge. We’ll see what comes first.