I'm not defending Emily in Paris getting an Emmy nomination, but…
Look, folks, I don't get it any more than you do. Emily in Paris, an Emmy nominee? The absolutely ridiculous Netflix comedy from Darren Star, about a very annoying young woman (portrayed with perfectly annoying pep by Lily Collins) who lucks into a "job" Instagramming herself in Paris for a company full of French people who hate her? (Did I mention that this very annoying young woman also uses a plug-in vibrator, which in itself is extremely annoying?)
Oddly enough, this nomination does not feel as hideously egregious as Emily's Golden Globes nod — which really just served to highlight the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's wildly out-of-whack priorities. For one thing, I May Destroy You was recognized by the Television Academy (unlike the HFPA), in the Outstanding Limited Series category. For another, Emily's Emmy nod did not come at the expense of the show I was pulling for most: Cobra Kai. (Yes, I love Hacks and Ted Lasso too, but those nominations were a fait accompli.)
Also, let's take a moment to remember where we — as a country, as a planet — were on Oct. 2, 2020, when Emily first premiered on Netflix. We were eight months into COVID-19 lockdowns, with no end in sight. We were one month away from a very, very important and divisive presidential election. We were anxious, scared, bored, frustrated, sad, and getting really, really tired of Zoom. We needed distractions, the sillier, the better. And along came Emily in Paris, a show where everything is beautiful — the locations, the men — and the heroine's biggest problem is that her French co-workers think she's ringarde (loosely translated, a "basic bitch").
No, this was not a good show, per se. It was, however, a "five-hour brain vacation," as I noted in my original review — and my God, who among us didn't need one of those during those dark early months of the pandemic? Much like Ted Lasso — another Outstanding Comedy Series nominee, which premiered in August 2020 — Emily took our minds off the misery around us. Lasso did it with pitch-perfect writing and legitimately heartwarming story lines; Emily did it with deep-dish pizza controversies and enough ridiculous outfits to fuel a month's worth of text-chain mockery.
You know what people did not want to watch during COVID lockdown? Shows about COVID lockdown, like NBC's short-lived Connecting or Netflix's quarantine anthology Social Distance. While it was inspiring that so many creative folks in the TV industry worked hard to keep production going during that awful time, it was an awful time — and as viewers, we needed an escape, not a reminder.
No, Emily in Paris is not a better show than, say, Dickinson or Girls5eva — two comedies that were snubbed by the Emmys this year — but it did provide a very specific type of comfort to 58 million people (according to Netflix) during a very specific time of global trauma. And since there's no Outstanding Comedy Series That Gave Us a Brief Break From Weeping in the Fetal Position category, voters did what they had to do. Congrats, Emily. Looks like you had the last laugh after all.
The 73rd annual Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS and will stream live on Paramount+.