Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Masterpiece: Fleabag

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By Noelia Veras

The acclaimed British comedy-drama Fleabag has been widely streamed on Amazon Prime and well-received by audiences around the world. Fleabag was written and created by Phoebe-Waller Bridge who was also the lead actress and the executive producer of the show. Waller-Bridge is well known for her acting roles in Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Cafe. Waller-Bridge is also well known in the theatre world, as she has been involved in 16 well-known productions. 

Interestingly enough, Fleabag is actually based on a play about a woman who struggles with a sudden and tragic loss. Both the play and the show follow similar storylines, but the television show is more layered as it has more time and space to flesh out characters and plots. 

Fleabag takes place in London and follows a female protagonist who is not given a proper name, instead, she is referred to as Fleabag. Fleabag is a controversial figure— she is highly vulgar, lewd, and indecent. The show revolves around her life after a deep loss she experienced and the way she copes with it, along with her romantic and family life. 

With the death of a close friend, Boo, and the loss of her mother, Fleabag is grieving throughout the entire show, finding ways to avoid pain and keep her cafe afloat. Fleabag used to own the cafe along with Boo, but due to her untimely death the cafe tanks leaving Fleabag frazzled and fearful of losing her one true tie to Boo.

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Waller-Bridge is a revelation, she is strategically funny and periodically breaks the fourth wall with silly and poignant expressions directed at the viewer. These instances emphasize the punch line of many jokes and build trust with the audience. 

Fleabag is not the average sitcom, it is layered and messy and makes the audience think deeply, while also making them burst out laughing. Often times it is even confusing what one must feel in a scene, reflecting the awkwardness and lack of clarity that real life sometimes presents to people.

“I have a horrible feeling that I’m a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist,” said Fleabag to her father, in a particularly convoluted scene where she confronts the reality of loss while also being somewhat silly with her father. 

Often times, moments like these are inserted after hilarious scenes, jarring the audience with such different moods. The show is ultimately grounded in reality, revealing a raw perspective on the life of a grieving woman who has a limited filter as she copes with her pain through humor. Fleabag also struggles with her father’s new relationship that happens to be with her god-mother, a resentful yet comedic character. Themes of hook-up culture and romance arise as well, showing how Fleabag fails to take relationships seriously. She values brief flings far more than relationships as she tries to spare herself of heartache.

Overall, Fleabag is a layered show unlike anything else on television. The topics covered are relevant and painful, but don’t focus completely on the negative sides of life, instead, they show a comedic and light-hearted perspective as well. Waller-Bridge has not gone unnoticed in not only creating but also starring in this impressive show. In fact, Fleabag won a total of four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series. The show is genuine, making viewers think deeply and laugh loudly, teaching valid life lessons and revealing the depths of grief and familial love.

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