E in P

The purpose of “Emily in Paris” is to provide sympathetic background for staring at your phone, refreshing your own feeds—on which you’ll find “Emily in Paris” memes, including a whole genre of TikTok remakes. It’s O.K. to look at your phone all the time, the show seems to say, because Emily does it, too. The episodic plots are too thin to ever be confusing; when you glance back up at the television, chances are that you’ll find tracking shots of the Seine or cobblestoned alleyways, lovely but meaningless. If you want more drama, you can open Twitter, to augment the experience. Or just leave the show on while cleaning the inevitable domestic messes of quarantine.

from a New Yorker piece, “‘Emily in Paris’ and the Rise of Ambient TV,” in the NYer by Kyle Chayka.

I swear, meant to write about this very show and this very idea here on Helytimes but was too sluggish, kudos to Kyle Chayka . Watched the entire series of E in P. The outfits are funny, Emily is amusing, the shots are pretty and colorful, the plots don’t require any taxing neural processing. I don’t say that as a knock on the show at all, you try making one as appealing. But for me, ambient.

Other shows do this for others. Chayka doesn’t mention this one but Below Deck Med, I sense that might be part the appeal there.

Is this a reversion to what TV is meant for? Is TV truly just an appliance and the content is meant to be pablum you can sort of have on for an ambient effect? Was the “golden age of TV” just a glitch of art that emerged in between the end of movies being interesting and the arrival of all-consuming phone content?

What about rewatches? Does some of the ambient effect explain the popularity on streamers of F*R*I*E*N*D*S and The Office? You can tune it in and have some friends in the room without the stress of seeing what will happen with Jim and Pam?

We’ve been rewatching Game of Thrones, phones nearby if not in hand, and I find it very satisfying to watch while knowing what’s gonna happen. Come to think of it, spoilers never bothered me, almost all the famous spoiler things were “spoiled” for me by the time I saw them and I didn’t care. I thought The Crying Game was fantastic.

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