One of the most loved/hated characters of Emily in Paris is Emily’s boss who plays the main antagonist in the series. Sylvie, the new head of Savoir doesn’t take to Emily at all and even in the end isn’t too keen on her. After watching the series multiple times I’m beginning to see new dimensions to Sylvie’s character that I hadn’t noticed before.
1.SYLVIE WAS FRIENDLY AT FIRST
When Emily first arrived at Savoir Sylvie seemed happy to meet her meaning that she didn’t have anything against Emily at first sight. If you understand French then you know that Sylvie asked Emily how she found her travel and accommodation in a friendly tone. She only became cold after realizing that Emily didn’t speak French, know anything about French society and had annoying characteristics common in Americans who have the “America is the greatest nation in the world” syndrome. Sylvie had been expecting a seasoned marketing executive who could speak French, knew French culture and could provide an American perspective in a way that wasn’t condescending…and she got Emily. No wonder she had to ask “C’est quoi cette fille?”
2. EMILY WAS IGNORANT
Emily was blissfully unaware of how she appeared to many French people. The stereotype that French people are mean is usually said by anglophones who barely speak French or understand French culture and society. To Emily they appeared mean but in my experience people tend not to react well to people they can’t understand. Sylvie was right to say that she didn’t have anything against Emily in particular but everything that Emily represented. The ignorant American who treats her city like an amusement park then leaves to spread misinformation to her country mates. In my experience again I have met non-African people visit different cities in Africa (specifically Kinshasa, Harare, Johannesburg and Cape Town) and treat it like their amusement park but never take time to truly understand what the city is. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth towards certain foreigners because some can come off with a condescending attitude. And on the note of condescension…
3. EMILY WAS CONDESCENDING
Despite all her smiles and friendliness, Emily was extremely condescending. From the time that she met Camille and was like “You’re nice and French and you speak English…” to the time when she met up with the lady from the American Friends of Le Louvre and they both mocked the way that the French pronounced English names like “Rhooo-Bart” instead of Robert. Not to mention the time when Emily blatantly said “Your language is seriously f’ed up” (like English doesn’t doesn’t have a problematic history?) This subconscious form of bigotry is evident throughout the series if you pay attention. And perhaps that’s why Emily feels that she loves Paris, but Paris doesn’t love her…because Paris doesn’t accept fake love.
4. SYLVIE WAS A SEASONED PROFESSIONAL AND OFTENTIMES EMILY WAS INSUBORDINATE
There was a major culture clash between Sylvie and Emily. Even though Emily said that they were both on the same team there were many times that Emily took action that she didn’t have the authority to make. From her American perspective that was taking initiative, but to Sylvie that was insubordination and disrespect. And Emily was trying to show up Sylvie if you think about it closely. At the beginning of the show when she was in Chicago she ran past an ad idea to her boss and even said that the boss should pitch it, and that’s where the boss told her that no Emily should pitch it, it was her time to shine. Emily’s respect for her former boss was evident and she went through proper protocol all the time as was evidenced by her behavior. But with Sylvie there were many times she blatantly ignored the rules and specific instructions that Sylvie gave her. Her co-workers were right when they stated that it was Emily that was bringing the dysfunction to the workplace.
So even though I loved watching Emily in Paris and loved the character of Emily, I can’t deny that Emily wasn’t so much the victim and heroine that we all thought she was. And that Sylvie was justified in being weary and not very welcoming of her.