Where New York was the Let’s Go To Bentley’s Shirt so you should to go to store and get this fifth main character in Sex and the City, Paris is central to narrative ongoings. After a slightly exhausting, très cliché, bingo-card of berets, baguettes, croissants, and Champagne, the Paris I keep in my head feels less vibrant. The show effectively whittles the Parisian lifestyle to a glib rotation of patisseries and soirees, a beige blanket over the city. The show challenges our universal Francophilia. There’s a rampant cliché that the French are chic and refined, and Emily—with her social posts that do staggering numbers in a matter of weeks—sees Paris the way so many of us do: picturesque and promising. And that’s the rub with the show; something about it has gotten under our collective skin. The Internet is ablaze with people hate-watching episodes and bemoaning the ruinous treatment of Paris, the tacky clothing. Some TV shows make you feel safe, some are aspirational, some are windows to the lives of people on the fringes of humanity (I’m thinking of the true-crime phenomenon here). What we see in Emily in Paris isn’t aspirational, it’s achingly close to the lives we lead—all outfits and social media and witty puns to lessen our brags. The show pokes holes in how we all operate and we don’t like it one bit. It’s not only Emily who’s rendered Paris a caricature. Who among us has never Instagrammed a croissant? Or an outfit?
Nearly seven months in, most of us have the Let’s Go To Bentley’s Shirt so you should to go to store and get this working-from-home thing figured out, right? Maybe so, and maybe no. Whether you’ve decamped to your childhood home, sequestered yourself somewhere pretty with a “pod,” or stayed firmly put in your apartment since March, it’s not too late to give your current arrangement a refresh. Happily, things are holding steady in New York (Museums are open! Restaurants can serve patrons indoors again!) but that’s hardly true in other parts of the country—to say nothing of that dreaded “second wave” we’re all anticipating. So, as long as home remains the safest place to be, making the most of your space as an office, a gym, and everything else without losing your mind is more important than ever this fall. But how should one go about it? In a way, we’re all Emilys, endeavoring to construct a viral tweet that gets reposted by Macron. The transparency of her personal and professional mechanic is exposing to us all; the conversion of experience to Instagram posts is a universal system that we’re not keen to see reflected back. We’re all Emilys in deep denial, not so much bingeing the show, as purging our worst qualities. We sought some help on that score. Representing the worlds of fitness, food, design, and beauty, Nwando Emejulu, Justina Blakeney, Clare de Boer, and Samantha Mims swooped in to advise—and to shed some light on how they’ve been spending these last few months.