Emily In Paris is now pissing people off on a global scale: Ukraine’s culture minister has taken issue with Netflix’s fish-out-of-water series starring Lily Collins.
On the messaging app Telegram, Oleksandr Tkachenko, whose title is Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, shared his thoughts about the latest season of the show, and did not hold back. Specifically, Tkachenko takes issue with a depiction of a Ukrainian character seen in the fourth episode of season two, telling his Telegram followers that he found Petra to be a “caricature of a Ukrainian woman” that was both “unacceptable” and “offensive.” In an English translation of the post, Tkachencko appears to ask: “Will Ukrainians be seen as such abroad? That should not be the case.” He also said he’d be talking about his issues with Petra to Netflix directly.
For those of you who did not watch the entire series in an afternoon while on an edible, in an episode titled “Jules and Em,” Collins’ Emily Cooper is forced to partner with a fellow classmate in her French class and gets stuck with a zany woman named Petra, played by Daria Panchencko. Petra tells Emily she’s from Kyiv, and the pair can barely communicate above a few words in broken French and hand gestures bond over their love of shopping. While shopping, Petra manages to get Emily to shoplift with her from a bougie department store and the two flee together clutching various merchandise. Upon getting away from the store, Emily melodramatically compares the moment to Les Misérables, shouting at Petra: “Don’t you know what happens to Jean Val Jean when he stole the baguette?”
Finding her moral compass to not shoplift (but not to avoid sleeping with friends’ exes), Emily returns the stolen merch and Petra is quite literally never seen or heard from on the show again.
In the event that you’ve not watched Emily in Paris, it shouldn’t surprise you that the show focuses a lot on cultural differences, as its titular character is a Chicago transplant living in France. Among the onslaught of backlash that the show has received due to Emily’s unhinged social media activity and her being blatantly bad at her job (despite the narrative arc of the show arguing otherwise), there’s been a lot of chatter at how the show perpetuates outdated stereotypes about French people.
Collins addressed some of this backlash in an interview with Vogue last month, saying she and the show “took a lot of the critiques to heart in terms of what was spoken about after season one, first in terms of incorporating more of the French culture” and prioritizing “diversity and inclusion.” She also claimed it was “a gift to be given these comments and creative critiques, to be able to listen and grow and create a season two that we felt was even better than season one.”
Whether Netflix will take these comments from Tkachenko as a “gift” remains to be seen. Netflix did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.