Phoebe Waller-Bridge has really stepped into the spotlight as of late with Killing Eve and voicing the droid L3-37 in Solo. But the second season of her tragicomedy Fleabag is truly her spectacular success. From the witty writing and editing, to the amazing cast, beautiful cinematic-looking shots and original edge, Fleabag has got it all. She even snatched two Golden Globes for Best Comedy TV Series and Best Actress for the show. So yes, it really lives up to its hype.
Fleabag is both hilarious and devastating. It is a brutally honest portrayal of a messed-up, reckless woman with no filter, known as Fleabag (we never learn her actual name) as she tries to navigate her life while also trying to cope with anguish and tragedy. Although the show only has twelve episodes, there is A LOT going on. The show tackles so many themes in such a short time, such as depression, addiction, love, grief, self-acceptance and letting go. If you are looking for a smooth, happily ever after… maybe Fleabag is not for you. But in my opinion, I felt that the ending was perfect, optimistic and honest. It was the light at the end of the tunnel that Waller-Bridge finally gives us after dragging us through Fleabag’s tragic mishaps in season one.
The first season was great, but I really only started to become hooked on the show on the season’s finale. In season one, we are introduced to Fleabag’s chaotic and reckless life, her unhealthy coping mechanisms and the darkest pits within her mind with occasional cracks. Season two opens with our beloved heroine a year later standing in a Kubrick-esque bathroom wiping blood from her face. She then states, “this is a love story”. Despite the bloody nose, Fleabag appears to be in a healthier place and is beginning to mend her life.
What is most unique about Fleabag is how it uses perspective to tell a very tight story. I have never seen a show that follows a main character so closely and devotedly. Specifically, Waller-Bridge’s inventive way of breaking the fourth wall is vital to the show. She consistently does this throughout the series but when she does it in season two, it’s different. A funny gaze into Fleabag’s mind and her cheeky side comments become much more profound and take on a different meaning in season two when the ‘hot priest’ played by the amazing Andrew Scott notices her literally talking to camera. Talking to us is her escape hatch, her coping mechanism. It also means that we develop a close relationship with Fleabag throughout the show. She does not want to dampen her bravado and let her vulnerabilities be ‘seen’, but the Priest recognises this and is the first person that she encounters that truly sees her for who she is.
It is a show that depicts the pressures of being a fictional character in such a relatable way. She portrays this whole idea of performativity in life. She is performing, she wants us to see her “totally hilarious and fun life”, but underneath her boldness, there is a real honest person who is struggling to cope. When she meets the priest, she allows herself to feel vulnerable and love again. Happiness is still an option for her. Despite its tragic moments, Fleabag is bittersweet. The good finally balances out the bad in season two, and I felt that it ended optimistically and conclusively with Fleabag waving goodbye to the camera, to us. She is on the road to recovery and doesn’t need to escape anymore. There are of course a million ways to interpret this ending and that is the magic and beauty of Fleabag. Within such a short series, there are so many ways you can look at it. We all have a bit of Fleabag in us.