'Emily in Paris': Ukraine culture minister labels Kiev character an 'insulting caricature'

The second season of the series, which began on December 22, has attracted criticism again

Lily Collins as Emily and Daria Panchenko as Petra in 'Emily in Paris'. Photo: Netflix
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Season one of the divisive Netflix show Emily in Paris offended French critics, and the second season has upset another European nation, Ukraine.

The series follows the glamorous pursuits of the title character Emily Cooper, played by Lily Collins, who finds herself in Paris for her marketing executive job.

In the second season, she meets Petra (Daria Panchenko), a woman from Kiev, in her French class. It is the portrayal of Petra that has offended Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine's Culture Minister, who labelled the character's depiction as "insulting".

In her three-episode stint, she is seen shoplifting, fears deportation and is deemed to have garish and bad fashion sense – the most heinous of crimes in Emily in Paris, if ever there was one.

Lily Collins, centre, as Emily Cooper in 'Emily in Paris', wears a green jacket by Lebanese designer Elie Saab in season two. Photo: Netflix

"In Emily in Paris, we have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting," Tkachenko wrote on Telegram. "Is that how Ukrainians are seen abroad?"

Ukrainian media has reported that Tkachenko has written to Netflix to officially complain.

In 'Emily in Paris' no cliche is spared, not even the weakest
Charles Martin, ' Premiere'

His concerns have been echoed on social media by Ukrainians. Eugenia Havrylko wrote in a post, which has been shared by the official account of Ukraine, Ukraine.ua: "I feel like this cannot be ignored ... Being the most successful Netflix show in 2021, knowing your influence on millions of minds and hearts all over the world, there is still a place for such ignorance and intolerance?"

Ukrainian actor and film producer Natalka Yakymovych defended Petra's depiction, saying: "So, in a TV series, negative characters can be anything but Ukrainian? Obviously, we all would like her to be from Moscow, but you don't always get what you want."

Lily Collins plays an American marketing executive in 'Emily in Paris', which has been criticised for portraying the city and its people in a cliched manner. Photo: Netflix

The first season of the series offended French critics, who similarly labelled the show "insulting" and called out the cliches featured in the series.

“The berets. The croissants. The baguettes. The hostile waiters. The irascible concierges. The inveterate philanderers. The lovers and the mistresses. Name a cliche about France and the French, you’ll find it in Emily in Paris,” said 20 Minutes.

Premiere’s critic Charles Martin wrote: "[In Emily in Paris] we learn that the French are ‘all bad’ (yes, yes), that they are lazy and never arrive at the office before the end of the morning, that they are flirtatious and not really attached to the concept of loyalty, that they are sexist and backward, and of course, that they have a questionable relationship with showering. Yes, no cliche is spared, not even the weakest.”

Darren Star, the creator of the series, responded to French criticism, saying he was "not sorry for looking at Paris through a glamorous lens".

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Star described the show as "a love letter to Paris".

"The first thing she is seeing is the cliches because it's from her point of view," he said. "I wanted to do a show that celebrated that part of Paris."

Updated: January 03, 2022, 8:45 AM