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Ukraine’s culture minister slams ‘Emily in Paris’ for ‘offensive’ Ukrainian character


By Sana Noor Haq and Katharina Krebs, CNN

Ukraine‘s minister of culture has been watching Netflix series “Emily in Paris” — and he’s not happy.

Oleksandr Tkachenko shared his frustration about the “offensive” way in which Petra, a Ukrainian character, is portrayed in season 2 of the show, which debuted on Netflix in December.

The latest season kicks off with American executive Emily (Lily Collins) juggling the fallout of sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo), the demands of her job in Paris — and the cultural barriers that exist between herself and her Parisian colleagues.

To help with her assimilation, the Chicago native signs up to a beginners’ French class, where she meets Petra, played by Daria Panchenko.

However, Petra makes a bad impression on Emily when she unapologetically steals clothes from a local mall and encourages her to do the same, before sprinting off onto the streets of Paris.

‘Unacceptable’ and ‘offensive’

Tkachenko condemned the storyline.

“In ‘Emily in Paris’ we have a caricature of a Ukrainian woman, which is unacceptable. 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.

He said that while he watched the first season and described it as “a pretty good entertainment series,” he now has “a few comments.”

“Netflix is ​​well acquainted with Ukraine, suffice to say that most of the streets of Paris in the movie ‘The Last Mercenary’ were filmed in Kiev.”

“In addition, 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.”

“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.”

CNN has reached out to Netflix for comment.

A fan favorite?

When the first season of “Emily in Paris” was released in 2020, some French viewers slated it, saying it recycled outdated clichés about the City of Light and its inhabitants.

More recently, Emily’s new love interest, a British banker named Alfie (Lucien Laviscount), has garnered mixed reviews from spectators.

“I hate how they’ve portrayed Alfie in Emily in Paris,” one user tweeted, arguing that British “people would NEVER be that cringe.”

“Alfie in Emily in Paris really is the stereotypical British guy who loves to go to the pub,” wrote another.

“I am in LOVE with Alfie from Emily in Paris,” another user tweeted.

Despite criticisms, the Emmy-nominated show has consistently won over viewers.

The first season was streamed by 58 million households in its first four weeks, and was Netflix’s most popular comedy series of 2020, according to a press release.

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