When it comes to Emily in Paris, Lily Collins doesn't expect only amour.
The Netflix hit, which the 32-year-old actress leads as American transplant Emily Cooper, has come under a variety of scrutiny since Cooper and her camera-shaped iPhone case arrived onto our screens in October 2020 with a colorful wardrobe and French translation app. While the show was a temporary antidote for viewers' desperate wanderlust amid the coronavirus pandemic, its main character really rubbed some—including a Chicago pizza chain—the wrong way.
In the first episode, Cooper quipped that a French colleague must have eaten Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza after he likened the Chicago delicacy to a "quiche made of cement." Co-owner Marc Malnati fired back. "When Netflix' Emily in Paris writers chose to take a shot at Chicagoans and our pizza to try to get a laugh," he said in an Instagram post, "it felt heartless and not humorous in the midst of Covid-19." Others lambasted the character as arrogant, ignorant, unrealistic and lacking any effort to assimilate beyond the superficial. Even Collins seemed not quite in sync with her character when she guessed Cooper's age to be "22-ish" during an interview with British Vogue, an assessment that was almost immediately called into question online.
While Collins is receptive to the various criticisms—some of which has seemingly informed new elements of the show's more diverse second season—she also wasn't expecting it to ruffle so many feathers.
"We never represented it as anything other than what it was going to be," she told Glamour. "And we didn't know the world would be in the state that it was in when it came out. People said they were laughing and smiling for the first time in a long time, that it reminded them of what fun felt like and that we were able to offer some escapism and romanticism and travel. I was so proud of that. I did not expect it to all of a sudden be something that people were upset [about]."
Collins noted it's not just French culture that is subjected to punchlines on their show. "We do poke fun at America too," she said. "Emily is just as willing to mention things about where she's from, and they joke about her as much as things are joked about her coworkers or the way of life there."
And when it came to her flubs, she also leaned on humor. "When it was little nitpicky things about deep-dish, or that I messed up from the age, I laughed about that," she said. "I messed up, I'm so sorry."
As the daughter of musician Phil Collins, "I know that in this industry, having been in it, having grown up in it," she said, "you know that not everyone's going to love what you do all the time."