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Awkward, quirky, and cringe-worthy has become a norm for female comedians. It is like Black comedians telling jokes about white people. It pretty much has become the basic go to. However, in Fleabag Season 1, you get the sense that while Phoebe Waller-Bridge is likely embellishing and making up a few things she has gone through, it’s not all about the jokes as it is about real people trying to get through weird and uncomfortable moments.
Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) formerly owned a café, with a gerbil theme, with her best friend Boo (Jenny Rainsford). Someone who accidently committed suicide. Since then, the shop has been struggling and Fleabag even worse. If only because, out of all the people in her life, Boo was perhaps the one person who got her, or at least attempted to.
Fleabag’s mom, who she is told she is like, died of breast cancer and her mother’s best friend (Olivia Colman) swooped in and took her best friend’s husband (Bill Paterson). Someone who can barely look at Fleabag too long for it triggers memories of his wife. And even with Claire (Sian Clifford), Fleabag’s sister, there is a disconnect. Possibly because Claire is posh and Fleabag is well, common to a certain degree, but eventually you realize the girl is on her own. Even if her body is able to attract a few men to help pass the time with. At least, until it doesn’t allure people anymore.
I love Her Breaking The Fourth Wall
Breaking the 4th wall is by no means a new method for a narrative, yet Waller-Bridge uses it almost in a Deadpool type of way. One in which she doesn’t allow you to simply be part of the audience but like this new friend who she doesn’t know well, but you are hitting it off. Both in terms of storytelling and comedic moments, it leads to you becoming quite connected with the character Fleabag. For as much as it is used for commentary about whatever it is she is going through, it is also used to show some form of vulnerability and you really getting a look inside her head. Almost to the point that it seems like you are like a new Boo to her and she wants to see if you are able to laugh with her than at her, and perhaps can be there when everyone else has paired off and abandoned her.
The Mystery Behind Boo
You can tell the absence of Boo has a strong effect on Fleabag. Not just because she was her business partner but because she was her only friend. She was the only one who pursued getting to know Fleabag on a personal level. So as we come to understand the reason behind her death, you are left a bit shocked. If only because she seemed so happy yet was apparently as broken as Fleabag is.
On The Fence
Balancing out a person’s quirks, or not making a moment seem purely for the sake of a joke is difficult. Something which this season doesn’t necessarily struggle with, but the balancing act does come with notable shifts as there is a pursuit for a happy middle ground. Take Fleabag’s godmother, for example: Colman plays her in such a way where there is a balance between the awkwardness about being around Fleabag, who reminds her of her best friend, and comically being condescending toward her. However, at the same time, when it comes to Fleabag’s love interests there is this sense Waller-Bridge was playing up certain peculiar and annoying traits of her exes. Most of which don’t create complex and real-seeming characters. If anything, they seemed more so geared as people to laugh at or made to help you understand what Fleabag is willing to put up with so she won’t have to deal with a silence only broken by retrospective thoughts.
Overall: Positive (Watch This)
I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this show. Now, granted, it being 6 episodes doesn’t give it a huge amount of room for filler and time to get on your nerves. However, in those 6 episodes, you really connect with Fleabag in a way which shows that have 2, 3, or even 4x as many episodes don’t have you connect to the lead character. For while some of the people in her life seem too weird to be true, for almost each and every one of them there is some pursuit of them being normal and you understand Fleabag through them.
Hence the positive label. For while the season is short, the character of Fleabag, and the world Waller-Bridge crafted, leaves a positive impression. Making you hope when the show returns in 2018, since Waller-Bridge is going to be in the new Han Solo movie, it will maintain its ability, and desire, to create odd and unique people. People who are undoubtedly odd, yet there is some sense of humanity there. Showing that everyone, and every situation, isn’t simply a joke or embellished memory, but part of telling a story which, in the long run, has meaning.