The minister of culture for Ukraine, Oleksandr Tkachenko, has been watching the new season of Netflix’s Emily in Paris. And let’s just say: he’s not very happy. He finds the show’s portrayal of Petra, a Ukrainian character, quite “offensive…”
Offended By Emily In Paris
For those who have not watched the latest season of Emily in Paris, we’ll break it down for you. It begins with the titular Emily (Lily Collins), dealing with the repercussions of sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, she still needs to deal with the demands of her regular life and job in Paris. To help her, Emily signs up for a French class where she meets Petra, a Ukrainian character, played by Daria Panchenko. Petra has heavy blue eye makeup, loves to shop, and seems a little dim-witted.
Some viewers loved the character. However, the minister of culture for Ukraine, Oleksandr Tkachenko, did not enjoy the character. “In ‘Emily in Paris’ we have a caricature of a Ukrainian woman, which is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “On the other hand, it is also offensive. Will Ukrainians be seen as such abroad? Who steal, want to get everything for free, be afraid of deportation? That should not be the case,” he wrote in a post on his official Telegram channel, two days after the second season was released.
Furthermore, Tkachenko says there are no more excuses for Netflix’s offensive misstep. “With the popularization of our culture, Europeans and Americans have heard about our artists and beyond. At least about the conductor Oksana Lyniv, tennis player Elina Svitolina, singer Jamala, designer Vita Kin,” he explained. “But this is probably not enough. And we will have to continue to fight stereotypes. Because if in the 90s and 2000s, Ukrainian guys were portrayed mostly as gangsters, over time that has changed.”
Believe it or not, this is far from the first time Emily in Paris has offended viewers…
Stereotypes About Ukraine
No questions asked Emily in Paris has faced some challenges over the years. Upon its release in 2020, many French viewers condemned the show. They said it simply recycled clichés about France and its people. Likewise, Emily’s love interest in season two, British banker Alfie, also garnered mixed reactions from British viewers. “I hate how they’ve portrayed Alfie in Emily in Paris,” one reviewer wrote. “[British] people would NEVER be that cringe.”
Still, despite these critiques Emily in Paris remains a hit for Netflix. Not only has it won big viewing figures, but it also earned Emmy nominations! So, will Netflix change anything in the coming seasons? Possibly, but it’s unlikely, given the continued success of the show.