Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) talks with a priest (Andrew Scott). Amazon Prime
Fleabag is the uncommon tv present that had me sitting, mouth barely open, gasping, “I can’t consider they’re going there,” throughout its second season. This sense had nothing to do with the truth that the primary episode of the collection encompasses a operating joke about anal intercourse or cringingly awkward household dynamics. Relatively, I used to be left speechless by the present’s willingness to probe questions of faith, dedication, and ethical development—all with out dropping the playfully filthy humorousness marked by its title.
The present (now streaming on Amazon Prime) reveals its ethical middle within the first season. We comply with the primary character, who is just listed within the credit as “Fleabag” (performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who additionally created and wrote the present), by means of a collection of sexual liaisons, most of them awkward and harmful, only a few of them truly pleasurable for her. As she says within the second episode, she is obsessive about intercourse, “the performance of it, the drama . . . however not a lot the sensation.” It’s clear early on that she is floundering, however with a unusual British accent and a stiff higher lip she retains on going—as if having intercourse with anybody and everybody had been a sort of public service or a non-public penance.
Essentially the most noticeable characteristic of the present—nearly a gimmick—is that Fleabag talks on to the viewers. She breaks the motion of the scene and advertattire the digicam, commenting on what is going on. We’re her witnesses and her allies, her personal journal and her viewers. Fleabag would have us consider her life is all a lark, an experiment to see how fascinating she is and what she will do with the will she elicits in others.
It doesn’t take lengthy to understand that behind the snarky asides, Fleabag is struggling profoundly. Her mom has recently died and her father, who’s so awkward he has hassle ending a whole sentence along with his two daughters, has taken up along with his late spouse’s greatest buddy, who’s a powerful incarnation of the depraved stepmother dressed up as a self-involved artist. Fleabag has a strained relationship together with her sister, Claire, who represses all her feelings and is married to a narcissistic American. And floating out and in of Fleabag’s almost each thought are flashbacks of her lifelong greatest buddy, Boo, who died in a freak accident.
Grief runs by means of her life like a present she can not management, unleashing chaos she can not simply narrate away. Inside that grief are darker feelings of disgrace and guilt, whose supply is progressively revealed. When it’s, Fleabag can not spin her previous into an episode of wacky journey. However by then, we understand how a lot she is paralyzed by her personal guilt and really feel no must disgrace her. The ultimate second of the primary season might have come straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story: a second of grace within the guise of a mortgage officer which might simply be mistaken for an strange encounter, besides that Fleabag seizes on it and begins to alter her life.
The second season picks up a little bit over a 12 months after this second, and we see how far Fleabag has come—no extra random intercourse and much extra accountability. This season raises the stakes of her quest past “not destroying her life”; she is asking what it means to be totally current to her personal life, dedicated to somebody or one thing.
It’s nonetheless Fleabag although, so the automobile for these explorations come within the type of a foul-mouthed, almost-alcoholic Roman Catholic priest (performed by Andrew Scott). He can match Fleabag’s sarcasm and sacrilege beat for beat, pouring gin and tonics out of aluminum cans within the sacristy. She is intrigued by his sexual unavailability (that celibacy factor), however what actually puzzles her is his dedication to a life that calls for one thing from him. If Flannery O’Connor haunts the primary season’s finale, season two is sort of a a lot raunchier Graham Greene novel. (Waller-Bridge went to a non-public Catholic faculty in England, so I won’t be making up these influences solely.)
The priest’s relationship with God is each the butt of a whole lot of jokes and brought severely sufficient to resist the humor. It turns into a foil for Fleabag’s personal uncertainty about what, if something, makes a life significant. Up to now, not being a complete fleabag has been her solely aim. The priest suggests there may extra to aspire to, like peace, or pleasure, and even love.
His energy to shake up her expectations is revealed primarily when the present begins to play with the direct addresses to the digicam. It’s price not spoiling the shock, as a result of I discovered myself wishing I had a digicam I might flip to and say, “Did you see what they’re doing?” In interrogating Fleabag’s want to border her personal life for an imagined viewers the present cuts straight to the center of her ethical development: when she will measure her life by her relationships, how she sees others and is basically seen, she received’t want us to comply with her dwelling. However I hope they allow us to preserve watching anyway.
A model of this text seems within the print version beneath the title “Can a fleabag clear up her act?”