Emily in Paris: Why The Portrayal of Petra Is Causing Backlash For The Show

'In Emily in Paris, we have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable,' says Ukraine's Culture Minister.

Emily in Paris

by Aaliyah Harry |
Updated on

Emily in Paris is known for providing the perfect dose of escapism. So, when season 2 dropped on Netflix, fans immediately devoured all the episodes. However, the characteristics of a new Ukrainian student called Petra has deeply offended those of Ukrainian heritage.

We are introduced to Petra when Emily re-joins her French class to brush up on the language. Although they get off to a frosty start, the pair eventually start to bond outside of class. However, the moment that caused a stir centres Petra being. a thief and encouraging Emily to shoplift.

Many fans of the show were outraged with the depiction of Petra and took their frustrations to social media. Under an Instagram post announcing the release of season 2, a fan wrote, ‘Apologise to Ukrainian women for how you portrayed them in the show! It was the lowest thing to do.’

While another commented, ‘You should be ashamed of your depiction of Ukraian women.’

Viewers have continued to demand an apology since the show aired.

The portrayal of Petra has gone beyond anger from fans and has crossed over to being debated amongst the Ukraine government. Ukraine’s Culture Minister said in a statement, 'In Emily in Paris, we have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting, is that how Ukrainians are seen abroad?' He concluded that the portrayal was 'offensive.' It is reported that he has also sent a letter to Netflix complaining about the portrayal of Petra.

Although Emily in Paris is adored by millions, the show has faced backlash in the past about its lack of diversity and authentic representation of Paris. Lilly Collins, who plays protagonist Emily, is also a producer on the Netflix show. Before the second season aired, she spoke openly about the changes they made.

In the December issue of Elle UK she 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.’

It does pose the question as to how much responsibility the media has in upholding stereotypes. For decades many groups have fought for authentic representation in the media. Others will argue that it’s just a TV show with fictional plots. However, the show is watched by millions and is on a huge platform. We all have our own minds, but the media we consume has a huge influence, so there is responsibility there.

It seems that Lilly takes on board the feedback she hears about the show, so perhaps the wrongs will be put right.

READ MORE: This British Man’s Reaction Is The Most Realistic Part Of Emily In Paris

READ MORE: All The Ways Emily In Paris Fails As A Social Media Professional In Season Two

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