The new Netflix series, which stars Lily Collins as a millennial social media guru who is sent to Paris to lend an "American perspective" to a boutique French marketing firm her company acquires, is packed with cliché depictions of French people and their lifestyles. While some are hilariously accurate — like claustrophobically small elevators, salespeople who correct your pronunciation and dog owners who fail to pick up after their pooches — others feel overdone and have rubbed the French the wrong way.
The show's leading man, Gabriel, is played by Bravo, a 32-year-old French actor and model with a disarmingly perfect jawline, lilting accent and general je ne sais quoi that has catapulted him into the spotlight.
STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX © 2020 Lily Collins and Lucas Bravo in Emily in Paris
PEOPLE recently caught up with Bravo over video chat as he quarantines in Budapest while filming his upcoming project, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. Of the mixed reactions to the show, he says, "I'm just so happy and grateful, and it's very humbling to see how people are responding to it. I understand all the critics — I am French, I know what they feel, how they feel and why they would feel that, but it's a positive feeling."
He recognizes that the show is full of clichés — but a number of them felt entertaining and accurate, he says.
"For me the biggest cliché, so to speak — that actually is so true — is people smoking after the gym. It's so true," he admits with a laugh.
"You know, 'Oh, after this big effort, the lungs are perfectly open and ready to receive some nicotine, so let's smoke a cigarette,'" he jokes of the French post-workout ritual. "It is so French, and I was actually surprised that he [creator Darren Star] put that in the show. It was really funny."
When it comes to other realities of living in the City of Light, Bravo adds that his day-to-day life is — or at least was, before this breakthrough role — much more low-key than the extravagant stream of experiences the characters have on the show.
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"My Paris is really quiet and chill," he tells PEOPLE. "I have a really small and close group of friends, we're always together. We try to keep each other anchored and entertained and we kind of live behind closed doors like cavemen. We celebrate when there's need to celebrate, but the rest of the time we're just hibernating."
And the actor doesn't expect that to change as a result of his new fame.
"I feel like by the time I'll be done shooting this movie, which is late November, things will settle down and I'll be able to come back to Paris to a normal life, I hope," he says.
Emily in Paris is streaming on Netflix.