On My Screen Lately: Fleabag

Friday, May 31, 2019

Twitter was buzzing about this show I had never heard of and after avoiding it for about two weeks, I decided to just watch the show and get it over with. Well, to my surprise I ended up watching both season 1 and 2 (they are each 6 episodes so it's not that bad) in one day. While I had a lot of thoughts about season 1 and not all of them good, season 2 was far better and my favorite of the two. So, lets talk about Fleabag! 

It was created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who also created Killing Eve) and she writes and stars in the show as well. The rest of the cast is just as incredible--from the likes of Bill Patterson to Olivia Colman to Andrew Scott to Sian Clifford, who is new to me! You can check out the IMDb page for more! 

I wouldn't read further if you haven't watched the show because there will be spoilers! 

The Characters 

Fleabag 

The titular character of the show is a hot mess. She likes sex and a lot of it, has a complicated family, and is dealing with the loss of her best friend. I didn't like Fleabag in the first season. While Phoebe Waller-Bridge does an impeccable job of playing an unlikable character, I couldn't really care for Fleabag. She has brash and mean and she did things that bothered me beyond words. As someone with an older sister, I understand what it's like to compare yourself to someone older but sometimes she was just too mean.

I do think that regardless of our circumstances, we should be more mindful of how we treat others so that was an issue I had. Fleabag is dealing with the loss of her best friend and I do not know what I would do if I was in her situation. I ended season 1 absolutely hating Fleabag as it is revealed that she and her best friend's boyfriend hooked up. It should have made me more aware of how I deal with trauma but it didn't make me like Fleabag any less.

Season 2 begins about a year after the end of Season 1 and Fleabag, though still a mess, has her life more figured out. She kinder to herself and the people around her and I really appreciated her growth as a person. While I didn't love her, I felt for her. The ups and downs of family, of sisterhood, and of love were all relatable to a certain extent. Overall, I liked Fleabag (the show and character) a lot more in season 2 as compared to season 1!

Claire, her sister 

I don't know Sian Clifford before Fleabag but she is an exceptional actress. She flawlessly portrayed the rigid, up tight older sister of Fleabag, Claire, in a way that I hated her and loved her all at once. When you feel for a character that you don't really love is when you know they're written and portrayed very well. There are so many moments where my heart went out to Claire and I wanted nothing but the best for her. Being the older sister, losing your mother, and having martial issues can take its toll on a person and seeing Claire grapple with all of these aspects of her life was really great. 

I wanted this picture to be as big as possible so everyone could be as confused as I was to find him so attractive 

The priest 

Y'all this show made me fall in love with Moriarty. It was really shocking to me that people were actually *attracted* to Moriarty instead of just loving his character for what he brings onto the screen. Andrew Scott, who portrays the priest, was a breath of fresh air in season 2. As soon as his character was introduced, I knew both Fleabag and I were in trouble. He's charming and sexy and king and...a Catholic priest. He isn't as refined as your would expect a priest to be but his personality plays off so well with Fleabag's that it's hard to not ship them together. And the thing is? Fleabag likes him too! He's the first true guy that we have seen Fleabag interact with that could be a true potential boyfriend for her. It's heart wrenching to see these two find themselves, get to know each other, fall for each other, and realize that they can't be together.

One of my favorite parts of this show is how Fleabag breaks the fourth wall (more on that below) and how *surprise* the priest notices when she does it! The first person in this entire show to notice that she takes moments to herself is the one person who she thinks understands her best. This aded another layer to their relationship and made certain aspects even worse for me to bare.

Fleabag's dad and stepmother/godmother 

Bill Patterson and Olivia Colman shine as Fleabag's father and stepmother/godmother respectively. Olivia Colman was an actress I knew but didn't capture my attention until The Favourite. Watching this show, I realize what a versatile actress she truly is. I hated and loved her in this role and there is no one else I think who could have played this role. Bill Patterson, who I knew well from Outlander, also did a great job of portraying Flebag's father. He's still struggling after losing his wife but is attempting to find happiness with his new wife. Finding where his two daughters fit in is a big part of his character but I loved that the ending didn't get a perfect closure to the relationship he has with either Claire and Fleabag. 

The Writing 

If there is one thing I can say about the difference between season 1 and season 2 of this show is the clear evolution of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's writing. While both seasons are masterfully written, season 1 does have a few moments that I thought could have been executed better. (This is my thoughts as a viewer and consumer and I am not trying to say I could have done a better job. It's just what I would have liked as my taste is subjective.)

Season 2, on the other hand, does not waste a single word or moment or scene. All of the cast deliver their lines with great precision and the story itself flows better. It's clear that Waller-Bridge has become a better writer and has a firm understanding of the characters she is writing about. All of the characters are fleshed out better and feel even more real and I loved every second of it. The introduction to the priest as a love interest to Fleabag was very well done. Even though we can surmise what the ending for these two will be, his character doesn't feel like emotional growth fodder. He isn't there just to teach Fleabag something about herself because a good bit of their interaction also has to do with him and his wants and needs. Does he teach Fleabag something? Yes. Does she grow as a person because of him? Yes. But so does he. Fleabag is just as big a part of his story as he is to her and I loved that.

Breaking the fourth wall 

I wanted to separately talk about this aspect of the show apart from everything else because it really brings the writing and the acting together. I did not know how well breaking the fourth wall could work in a television show but Fleabag manages to intergrade the aspect into its storytelling flawlessly. It was jarring at first when Fleabag does it for the first time but it soon becomes a regular occurrence to the point where I can guess who it will happen again.

I think having this story told from Fleabag's open perspective is what leads to this aspect working so well. There is such a clear voice that Fleabag has (and kudos to Waller-Bridge's writing and acting) that it's not out of the ordinary for her to tell us exactly what she thinks when she thinks it. It's her way of getting away and narrating her story as she sees fit. I love the idea of telling your story, taking a minute to pause and share your thoughts with those "watching," and moving onwards. It's refreshing and well done and I love it. This made me want more shows where characters break the fourth wall. I didn't realize how much it adds to characterization.

And that concludes this post! My words don't do this show justice and I hope that everyone will give it a chance. It is raunchy and very sexual but so heartfelt at the same time. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whose Killing Eve is also amazing, delivers such a poignant depiction of a woman dealing with grief and the turbulences of everyday life and it's worth watching at least once (if not more).

Have y'all watched this show? If yes, what do you like or not about it? If you haven't watched it, does this make you want to check it out? 

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