A top diplomat has lashed out at Netflix for its “offensive” portrayal of Ukrainians in the hit comedy Emily in Paris.
Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s minister of culture, complained to the streaming giant about the “caricature” of his nation’s people in the show, branding it “unacceptable”.
Many Ukrainians also said they had been outraged by the depiction of Kyiv-native Petra in the show’s second series.
She is played by Ukrainian Daria Panchenko and portrayed as an uneducated thief with poor taste in fashion.
Mr Tkachenko said: “In the 1990s and 2000s, Ukrainian guys were portrayed mainly as gangsters. Over time this has changed. However, not in this case.
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“In Emily in Paris we have a caricature of a Ukrainian woman which is unacceptable. It is also offensive.
“Is this how Ukrainians will be seen abroad? Who steal, want to get everything for free, be afraid of deportation? This should not be so.”
Online, Ukrainian influencer Eugenie Hawrylko questioned whether there was “still a place for such ignorance and intolerance” in 2021. And researcher Olga Matveieva said it was a pity that Petra “marginalises the image of an average Ukrainian woman”.
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She wrote: “Nationality-based stereotyping not only provokes disbalance but maintains aggression. Let’s make peace, not offensive jokes.”
The main character in the show – about a fashion-conscious American working in the French capital – is played by Lily Collins, the daughter of musician Phil.
Mr Tkachenko said Netflix ’s response to his complaint about the programme was “quite diplomatic”.
He said: “They thanked me for the feedback. But they heard about the concern of Ukrainian viewers with the image of a Ukrainian woman. We agreed that in 2022, we will be in close contact to prevent such cases.
“Such an active public position will help ensure the attitude of Ukrainians is taken into account in future filming.”
The first series of Emily in Paris was also hit by claims of stereotyping, after French men were depicted as philanderers, women as mistresses and Parisian waiters as rude and work-shy.