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Emily in Prison: Ukrainian diplomat blasts show over ‘insulting’ stereotype

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The country’s culture minister has criticised the Netflix show for its offensive depiction of a character from Kyiv

Quelle surprise, Emily in Paris has been criticised for its shallow depictions of Europeans. This time, grievances come by way of Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s culture minister, who has issued a complaint to Netflix over its offensive portrayal of a Kyiv character. In a Telegram post earlier this week, Tkachenko wrote: “We have a caricature image of a Ukrainian woman that is unacceptable. It is also insulting. Is that how Ukrainians are seen abroad?”

He is, of course, referring to the role of Petra, played by actor Daria Panchenko, who spends episode four forcing the holier-than-thou Emily to go on a shoplifting spree. Other Ukrainians are understandably annoyed, too. “The way you treated the image of Ukrainians in your second season, 4th episode is such a low cost trick, absolute scandal and a shame,” Yevheniya Havrylko wrote in an Instagram post which now has nearly 80,000 likes. Though this is a particularly slanderous example, as French film critic Charles Martin put it, “no cliché is spared” in Emily in Paris, and there is plenty to feel insulted by – whether that’s in the show’s representation of the French as chain smoking adulterers, or English people, who refer to even the most boutique of Parisienne restaurants as “pubs”.

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The Ukrainian media has confirmed that Tkachenko has sent an official letter of complaint to the streaming platform. Elsewhere in Ukrainian fashion, the country’s former deputy education minister resigned last week following the criticism that his aide, Christina Tyshkun, received after wearing a skimpy LBD to an official visit to the Lviv mayor’s office. The dress, which had been slashed at the chest, was subject to misogynistic trolling online but has now been sold off in a charity auction, garnering close to £1,000 for the Kherson Clinical Hospital.