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Emily in Paris and Ted Lasso are very similar shows with different approaches to Americanism

  • "In recent months—as a pandemic that was handled with relative efficiency by many other countries has ravaged the United States, and as the American president has waged war on American democracy—two new TV shows have considered the question of what it means to be American," says Megan Garber. "Both have done so in the guise of comedy. Emily in Paris, a 10-episode lark about a bubbly American who moves to France for work, premiered on Netflix earlier this fall. It arrived soon after Ted Lasso—a 10-episode lark about a bubbly American who moves to England for work—began streaming on Apple TV+. The shows’ fish-across-the-pond stories are uncannily similar. In the one, Emily Cooper (played by Lily Collins), a young marketing executive, arrives in Paris after her company buys a boutique advertising firm. In the other, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is a coach of (American) football who moves to London to coach football, as the rest of the world understands the sport. Both protagonists are optimistic and friendly and absolutely clueless about their new homes. Emily speaks no French; Ted, mystified by boots and lorries, embodies the old joke about two nations divided by a common language. Both Americans are resented, at first, for their ignorance. And yet both are redeemed. The stories are so deeply aligned that both end with scenes soundtracked to that classic work of retrospective vindication: Édith Piaf’s 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.' The American abroad is a well-worn trope; that accounts, certainly, for some of the coincidences. But there’s a unified message in the shows’ synchronized spin. Both tales read as new versions of an old argument: that one of the most valuable exports America produces is America itself. Emily and Ted, these notably unquiet Americans, win over their doubters through the brute force of their charm. These shows, though, are engaged in a reckoning. They are grappling with cultural exchange during a time when American exceptionalism, always a myth, looks ever more like a lie." But Garber points out, while Ted Lasso has been met with widespread praise, Emily in Paris has been greeted with mockery. Emily in Paris, says Garber, "treats Americanism as a gift to be given; Ted understands that, for many people around the world—including many Americans—it has worked in precisely the opposite way. Ted may be, like Emily, an avatar of stateside entitlement; he views that entitlement, however, not as something to be accommodated, but rather as something to be overcome."

    TOPICS: Emily in Paris, Apple TV+, Netflix, Ted Lasso