bon anniversaire

OMG, Emily (in Paris) Has an Age!


As devoted followers of my Emily in Paris reporting know, I have been on a quest since the day Emily Cooper abandoned Chicago, home to a boring boyfriend and a blah life, and absconded to Paris to be mediocre at her job and make underwhelming romantic and sexual decisions. I honestly still don’t know what Emily’s goals are, exactly, but I do now know what I have sought out from the very beginning, the one question I need answered: How old is Emily?

Last year, I investigated all the evidence available to me: inconclusive and often contradictory material from the show itself; extratextual information provided via interviews with the cast and crew; and then the weird walk-back of that information from Lily Collins, who initially claimed Emily was “22-ish” (?) but later recanted via Insta Story (?!) but did not say what age Emily actually was supposed to be (??!??!).

We begin the second season knowing that Emily must be between the ages of 21 and 32 (Lily Collins’s real-life age at the time of this season’s release). Except we know she’s not 22 (see above). So … that narrows it down.

In the third episode of season two, Emily celebrates her birthday. That is the point of the whole episode. So you’d think they would make it really, super obvious WHAT birthday it is. But they do not!

We get our first clue at the very beginning of the episode, when a birthday care package arrives from her parents. Emily tells Mindy, “It’s a nothing year, so I didn’t really feel like celebrating.” This means we can officially rule out: 21, 25, 30. We’re getting closer!

At first, “Bon Anniversaire” feels like it’s going to be an elaborate troll in which her age is never revealed — which would have been EXTREMELY annoying (very Emily) but also hilarious. As the episode progresses, Emily invites Gabriel to her birthday dinner; he does not ask her how old she’ll be, and she does not tell him. Then she calls Camille to invite her; again, nobody exchanges information about ages. Then Emily invites the entire office to her birthday dinner. Nobody asks how old she is, but this tracks because none of them really care that much about her. Still, I feel like Emily is very much the sort of character who would make a big deal out of her age, especially in a non-landmark year, to compensate. (“I just feel like there’s something about 28, you know? Like you’re really not in your mid-20s anymore. It’s your late 20s. It’s a completely different stage of life!”) Also, Emily’s outfit would suggest that she is, like, 9 years old.

As a birthday gift, Camille brings Emily to the hammam with all her friends. Do any of these friends ask Emily what birthday it is? Nope! Perhaps this is meant as a commentary on the American obsession with youth and the French acceptance of age. Or maybe this show is torturing me for kicks.

Emily changes outfits, and you know what that means: A new day has dawned. Her BIRTHDAY. Though it’s still the morning, Emily’s phone suddenly explodes with well wishes from her friends and family in Paris and America, even though Chicago is seven hours behind Paris, so really she wouldn’t be getting all these texts from home after her birthday is well under way.

But whatever. This is where we find out Emily’s age, in the most random, fleeting, what-the-fuck way possible: One of the Instagram posts for her birthday is from Vaga-Jeune. (Remember it? It makes a product to combat vaginal dryness; Emily wrote the glass-ceiling-shattering copy “the vagina is feminine” for its ads.) Vaga-Jeune posted a photo of the box for its product — so, not a photo of Emily or having anything to do with her — and captioned it, “29 years Jeune! Happy Birthday @emilyinparis.”

Photo: Netflix

WHAT. What?!? And that’s it! No one else mentions Emily’s age at any point in the episode or, slight spoiler alert, the rest of the season.

(On top of everything else, I am to believe that this boring, random post from the vaginal-dryness-product company received 46 comments and 732 likes?)

So now we know Emily is supposed to be 29 years old. Mystery solved.


Perhaps I am too committed to the conspiracy, but I believe that the reason the show buried this information in such a difficult-to-spot fashion is the same reason it was so cagey about Emily’s age to begin with: It is a misguided attempt to make her an “everygirl” by denying her character the specificity that would make her feel three-dimensional and real. All these efforts at making her relatable just make her vague and confusing, rendering all her choices — re: her outfits, office conduct, dating, friendship, sex, career, etc. — even more illogical than they already are. My bet is they are hoping most casual viewers don’t even notice that this fact about Emily ever appeared onscreen. Alas, my viewership of this program is anything but casual!

OMG, Emily (in Paris) Has an Age!