Ukraine’s culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko has issued a complaint to Netflix over its offensive stereotypical image of a Ukrainian character in its show Emily in Paris.
In a Telegram post, Tkachenko wrote: “We have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting. Is that how Ukrainians are seen abroad?”
Media in Ukraine confirmed that he has sent a letter to the streaming giant to complain about the portrayal of Petra, played by actor Daria Panchenko, who is terrified of being deported in the show, shoplifts while on a shopping spree with Emily and has bad fashion sense – the ultimate faux pas in this appearance-obsessed world.
Emily in Paris is about the titular American, played by Lily Collins, who moves to the city of light to work for a marketing firm and swiftly becomes an influencer.
This is far from the first time the show has been blasted for cliched and stereotypical depictions – in fact, it has become renowned for its beret-wearing, chain-smoking and philandering French characters. The Guardian review of its debut series declared it “astonishingly tone-deaf”, adding: “You name a stereotype, and within the first three episodes, Emily has not only encountered it, but tried to rectify it, to adjust it to the American way.”
French critic Charles Martin, who writes for Première, was irate. “Frankly, watching Emily in Paris there’s plenty to feel insulted about. When they decided to caricature us, the authors didn’t hold back … no cliche is spared, not even the weakest.”
In an interview with Elle UK in December, Collins declared that the show was seeking to correct some of the perceived errors in its second run, stating that it would be “more inclusive and diverse” as a result.
Collins said: “For me as Emily, but also as a producer, after season one, hearing people’s thoughts, concerns, questions, likes, dislikes, just feelings about it, there were certain things that spoke to the time that we’re living in and what is right, moral and correct and should be done. I wanted diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera to be something that we really put our focus on.”
Emily in Paris remains a hit for Netflix, and is currently in the top 10 most-viewed shows on the platform around the world.