At a time when shows tend to produce season after season just because it’s bringing in a lot of audience and even though the story could have ended 50 episodes ago, Fleabag is one of the few shows I would sacrifice an arm for a few more episodes.
Usually, I love entertainment that knows it's time to call the curtains and take its due credit.
In that sense, I should admire Fleabag also. Its ending is perfect and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
But it is perhaps the brilliance of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s work that doesn’t allow me to admit that the show is over. Fleabag is easily one of the best things to happen to television in the past few years, and here’s why.
Fleabag reveals the turbulent lives of its title character, an unnamed but quick-witted lady navigating London's modern life by managing a failing cafe.
She takes the audience on a tour of her mishaps, vices, and the fallout from a tragic personal event through her sharp monologues presented directly to the camera.
When she becomes involved with a charismatic Priest, a conflict between her scepticism and his religiosity is sparked, while she is forced to negotiate complex family relationships.
Fleabag explores the complexity of love, sorrow, sisterhood, and the never-ending need for connection in a world that frequently feels far.
The Writing of a Great Character
Fleabag expertly examines the growth of its tenacious and damaged protagonist.
As the seasons go on, we watch Fleabag transform from a person who seems indifferent and distant to a woman who aggressively asserts her agency.
Layer by layer, the vulnerability she reveals transforms into empowerment, an experience of letting go of societal expectations and embracing her own selfhood.
Fresh and Feminist
Waller-Bridge, who portrays the title role to perfection, defies stereotypes and audaciously embraces her imperfections. Her sexual autonomy and weaknesses succeed in presenting a complex portrait of femininity that shatter the glass ceiling of typical female depiction in the media.
The show provides an authentic exploration of womanhood that stands out from its contemporaries.
Fourth-Walls and Observing The Fourth-Wall Observer
By removing the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, Waller-Bridge bridges the gap between the storyteller and the audience.
In addition to reducing the distance between truth and fiction and functioning as the entry point into Fleabag’s mind, it is simply enjoyable to watch Fleabag look over her shoulders and talk to us, turning the audience into her confidantes and partners in her quest of self-discovery.
But what makes it infinitely better is that one of the characters who Fleabag is also in love with, the Hot Priest, would notice Fleabag speaking to the camera. The idea of him seeing her for who she is could not have been better conveyed. It’s entirely unique and hasn’t been done before in any other fourth-wall-breaking shows.
Grief and Love
With the difficult connection Fleabag has with her sister Claire, the ordinary and heavy absence of her closest friend Boo, or the tense dynamics of her dysfunctional family, the show expertly navigates the complexity of loss, from the unexpected recurrence of bittersweet memories to the various ways it could possibly affect one’s relationships. For example, Claire's professional and refined façade conceals a deep emotional conflict.
Metaphorical and Allegorical
The café perfectly captures Fleabag's character as a place where private thoughts and outward appearances meet, representing the complex interplay between openness and secrecy.
The show consists of pauses, lingering looks, and unsaid words. Fleabag recognizes the value of stillness at a time when everything is loud and immediate.
And let’s not forget to address the fox in the room. The fox is perhaps the most brilliant device to signify the intensity of the Priest’s dilemma – a negotiation between his quest for spiritual fulfilment and the desire he feels towards Fleabag.