11 JUL - 2022
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s newest sitcom is full of characters who are defeated and unlikable. This series stars an angry young woman in a sharply funny and deeply felt comedy crisis.
Based on a play by Waller-Bridge, the series follows a cafe owner struggling with personal loss and professional disaster. To avoid spending nights alone, she frequently breaks up with her partner and sleeps with everyone she can find in the meantime. She smokes, drinks, and provokes people to prevent terrible flashbacks, yet she does so with an intoxicating honesty that gives us empathy for her plight.
Not even the plot of "Fleabag" is what sets it apart. This is the protagonist's nickname, who is otherwise unnamed in the story. Fleabag's self-obsessed, self-destructive conduct may be pushed to the limit by Fleabag's creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. After you've slammed through its two seasons, it is abundantly clear what a phenomenal writer and actress she is.
The show's restless, almost feral energy and slap-in-the-face attitude distinguish it. Fleabag prances through her surroundings with knowing confidence. Through a cleverly and immediately broken fourth wall, she previews what each person (new and old) is about and, most of the time, hilariously predicts their actions and responses. Fleabag draws us into the whirlwind of her encounters. This fourth-wall break involves us in her cringe-worthy interactions, making it all crazily entertaining in a very candid and fast introduction to her life. A tale of sex, relationships, jobs, money problems, pets, parents (and steps), friends, and death, you can't help but get involved from the get-go, especially as Waller-Bridge keeps a close eye on you.
Waller-Bridge is skilled at fusing bare confessionalism with humorous artifice. This welcomes genuine emotion rarely encountered in half-hour comedies. She has no problem with Fleabag getting involved in traditional and intensely dynamic scenarios, such as a potential reconciliation with her disgruntled father (Bill Paterson) or a surprising turn of events with a boyfriend she depended on. Nevertheless, they come to pass in jarring, unsettling ways that reflect the confusion and desperation that coexist with Fleabag's headstrong independence.
And the laughter—oh, my god, the fits of laughter "Fleabag" will induce you into. You know you've found your watch when the series’ lead masturbates to Obama giving a speech. Yes, it's that wonderful. Other dazzling sitcom highlights include Olivia Colman's beaming stepmother, dubbed "Godmother," who spends every delightful on-screen second either bragging about herself or making passive-aggressive digs at Fleabag and her neurotic sister Claire (Sian Clifford). Colman's Cheshire cat grin and her grip on her father (Bill Paterson) are always on display, no matter the (inappropriate) circumstance.
Fleabag spends most of her time boisterously diverting herself (and us) away from underlying truths.
This programme is far more than simply another dirty-talking British comedy. Waller-Bridge draws attention to the casual everyday sexism that is accepted and perpetuated everywhere by skilfully incorporating socially acceptable, gendered behavioural norms, from the bank manager's careless slip to the brilliant, not-so-subliminal messages fed to split groups at a gifted retreat. Your mind can't help but focus on the underlying universal themes Fleabag's experiences deftly offer up, from how we interpret success or failure to perceptions and reactions.
The best part is that you'll be laughing for the entire meal.