January 30, 2023

Why I am (Mindfully) proud of loving “Emily in Paris.”

Even though I grew up rather poor, I was brought up to have…an exquisite taste in art.

My mother was an artist, and my father a sophisticated reader of Russian literature.

The first movie I watched on the big screen was the original French War of the Buttons (1962). I grew up on classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, High Noon, and Gone with The Wind.

As an adult, I fell in love with everything by Wes Anderson. The Darjeeling Limited was my absolute favorite. I tremendously enjoyed foreign masterpieces like Head On (2004), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and White Tiger (2021).

So I must admit, that when I started watching Emily in Paris…

…I was a little embarrassed about it.

I perceive myself, I am a 49-year old yogini and meditator, aspiring to live mindfully and consciously, consumed by learning and teaching about the human condition. What do I have to do with a 20-something Audrey Hepburn wannabe, obsessed with fashion, consumerism, empty carbs, and men?

My excuse was that I started watching the show during the pandemic and lockdowns. I was going through health issues and wanted something light, and fun.

As I was watching the third season, recently, completely healthy, I realized that there were many reasons why I loved Emily in Paris, and why I should feel proud about loving it. In fact, I think Emily in Paris is a good medicine to anyone on the spiritual path.

 

Fun is Medicinal

One of the main problems with spiritual, mindful people is that we can take ourselves too seriously. Every minute of our lives, we think, should be devoted to something meaningful—like saving the world, being in service to others, inspiring, teaching, practicing, or meditating.

This behavior leads to spiritual materialism. We think we are important; we are on a mission. It can make us arrogant, or guilt-trip ourselves.

This approach only takes us away from what we really want.

Watching Emily in Paris is pure fun.

The show tells the story of Emily, a young, naive, relentlessly cheerful marketing executive working for a Chicago corporation. She relocates to Paris to work for a French marketing firm that her US employer bought.

Every scene in the show is colorful and vivid. It presents a world of extravagant consumerism, fashion, and sensual pleasures. I would never want to live in this world, but I enjoy peeking into it.

It’s not that I feel disadvantaged with my organic cotton yoga fashion. I seriously think most of what Emily wears is ridiculous. But her outfits are artistic, daring, bold, and alive. I think that we miss some of this spirit in our mindful world.

We are so damn serious…that we forgot to have some fun. Emily reminds me to get dressed and go out. To enjoy all that life has to offer.

Yoga and meditation can be fun and healing, but watching Emily in Paris does not have an agenda. It’s decompression, it’s delight, it’s relaxation.

 

Non-Violent Innocence

I find most TV shows today to be too dark, too violent—or both. We are tolerant toward violence, but when romance becomes too sticky, we feel ashamed for liking it.

If you ask me, we should boycott Game of Thrones, House of Dragons, Sandman, and anything that presents violence (and sexual violence) for the sake of violence. Unlike blushed faces and romantic giggles, violence is, well, dangerous.

Normalizing violence through entertainment is dangerous. It takes hold of our society—and we can see the results.

 

Pro-Aging

Another thing I completely adore about Emily in Paris is Sylvie. She is Emily’s French boss, played by the amazing Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, who will turn 60 on April 2023.

Sylvie wears her age so sexily. She owns it with pride. You look at her and say,

“I want to be 60. Being 60 is hot.”

It looks like she never did a facelift or Botox. Her face is beautifully wrinkled and full of expression. I salute this gorgeous, unapologetic woman. I hope she will keep inspiring many to follow her path.

 

And More

I find most acting today to be exaggerated. When I watch Emily in Paris, I feel that if I were there, I would probably respond much as the characters did.

One look at Sylvie’s face, and you know exactly how she feels. And that’s true for almost everybody on the set.

The show flirts with the cultural gaps between France and the US, especially in relation to work mentality, work-life balance, and sexual freedom. Emily has to learn not to show up early for work, to take long lunch breaks, and not to talk about work in social events.

This is another great reminder of how here in the US, we tend to be too ambitious and busy, and miss the pleasures of life.

 

What’s Missing?

What I want to see in the next season is more respect towards women’s intelligence. Even though the show presents women as strong and capable, when it comes to finances, they are clueless.

Sylvie gets in trouble whenever she needs to deal with paperwork or tax issues. She is totally dependent on her husband with anything related to money. The role of CFOs, investors and corporate owners belongs exclusively to men. This does not reflect todays’ reality.

In 2022, 35% of CFOs and 45% of CAOs in France were women.

We still have a long way to go, but I expect Emily in Paris to echo the rise of women in financial management positions on top of their success in creative and artistic endeavors.

 

  • If you still haven’t watched Emily in Paris, I recommend that you do. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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