Emily In Paris sparks complaints over stereotypes

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  • Lily Collins
    Lily Collins
    British-American actress
Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Emily in Paris has been criticised for perpetuating harmful stereotypes following a storyline involving its Ukrainian character in season two.

Created by Sex and the City's Darren Star, the Netflix show's first instalment centres on the titular influencer's move from Chicago to Paris for work. Its second, as you might expect, sees her continuing to embrace life across the Channel.

In the fourth episode, Emily (Lily Collins) meets Petra (Daria Panchenko), a fellow French language student who hails from Kyiv. Later on in the season, it emerges that Petra frequently shoplifts and is portrayed as having a blasé attitude towards doing it.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Related: Emily in Paris star says show will address controversy in season 2

On top of that, she's depicted as having a bad sense of style, as opposed to the glamorous American lead, and is constantly afraid of being deported.

"In Emily in Paris, we have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting," Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine's culture minister, wrote on Telegram (via BBC), as he called out the comedy-drama. He has reportedly sent an official letter of complaint to the streaming platform.

"The way you treated the image of Ukrainians in your second season, 4th episode is such a low cost trick, absolute scandal and a shame," Paris-based creator Eugenié Havrylko wrote in an Instagram post back in December, which has since had more than 77,000 likes.

Photo credit: STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX
Photo credit: STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX

Related: Emily in Paris star Lily Collins explains why COVID doesn't exist in season 2

"I'm sorry Emily In Paris, but why did you have to go the prejudiced route and make your Ukrainian character a shoplifter/criminal? This is just horrendous," Val Voshchevska, Amnesty International's Global Head of Digital, asked on Twitter.

Val continued: "Why are Eastern Europeans always portrayed in the worst way possible with strange accents and dodgy behaviours?Also that scene kind of [adds] nothing to the plot, so can you please remove it @netflix? Makes me sick to the stomach to know that so many people worldwide will see this show and see the stereotype played out on screen and think this about Ukraine and Ukrainians. How is this fair?"

Defending the show, however, Ukrainian film producer Natalka Yakymovych argued: "So in a TV series, negative characters can be anything but Ukrainian?"

Emily in Paris is available to stream on Netflix now.

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