Facades and the Fourth Wall – A Fleabag Video Essay


Quick warning you guys, this video will
be covering an adult show with adult themes about sexuality, and grief, and
depression. So uh don’t watch around the kiddies okay? And as always, these are
just my opinions, have fun watching me rail against my own film education, I
might get some stuff wrong, etc. Now then. [Fleabag] “After some pretty standard bouncing, you realize…he’s edging toward asshole. But your drunk and he made the effort to come all the way here, so you let him. He’s thrilled.” “Oh!” “And you spend the rest of the day…wondering… “Do I have a massive arsehole?” [Fleabag credits theme plays] ‘Fleabag’ began life as a one-woman show, which in and of itself began on a challenge from a friend to write a ten minute sketch for a stand-up
comedy night. The sketch would become the shocking hard-edged play, written and
acted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and directed by her friend Vicki Jones, and
then that play would become a TV show. [Fleabag] “You know that feeling when a guy you like sends you a text at two o’clock on a Tuesday night,” “Asking if he can come and
find you?” “And you’ve accidentally made it out like you’ve just got in yourself?” “So you have to get out of bed, drink half bottle of wine, get in the shower, shave everything, dig out some agent provocateur business,” “suspender belt, the whole bit, and wait by the door until the buzzer goes?” [Door buzzes] “And then you get to it
immediately.” so ‘Fleabag’ starts Phoebe Waller-Bridge
as a woman struggling. Her guinea pig themed cafe is about to go under.
Her sister dislikes her, her father avoids her, her godmother is the
sociopath, and her best friend recently died from… [Fleabag] “As it turns out, bikes go fast and flip you into the road. Three people died. She was such a dick.” And she copes with all of this through a
lot of sex and through…us. But we’ll get to that. First let’s meet the cast. At the top there’s the eponymous Fleabag played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge We don’t ever actually get a name for her in the show, She’s just Fleabag, and I’ll get to the names thing in a bit, but first let’s just meet the lady. Fleabag is a feminist…possibly a bad one. [Fleabag] “We’re bad feminists.” She’s trying to be a good sister. [Claire] “He’s still got that thing on his…” [Fleabag] “Come on you can do it. [Overlapping dialogue]
[Claire] “I don’t have to say…”
[Fleabag] “Yes you do.” [Claire] “No, not here.”
[Fleabag] “Just a little one come on.” [Fleabag] “Please!”
[Claire] “No.” [Claire] “Penis.”
[Fleabag] “Thank you” And daughter. [Fleabag] “The next man who walks in here is getting ridden to death.” [Door chimes] [Fleabag] “Dad! …Not ideal.” And she doesn’t only succeed [Dad] “I think you should go.” She tried to be a good friend except for when she didn’t. Her mom died a few years ago, and her best friend accidentally committed suicide a few months ago. Then there’s her guinea pig themed cafe which is…failing. [Fleabag] “I would say I fucked it into
liquidation.” Basically she’s a self-loathing, incredibly lonely person, quietly raging against the unfairness of the universe, and desperately flailing around for any kind of human connection to fill the endless void. [Fleabag] “Do you want to go for a drink?” [Fleabag] “Do you want to come home with me?” Usually that just means sex. [Fleabag] “Because I spent most of my adult life using sex to deflect from the screaming void inside my empty heart.” “I’m good at this.” But even when she does make a real connection with somebody there are complications. [The Priest] “What was that…Where’d you…Where did you just go?” Then we have her family. There’s her sister Claire played by Sian Clifford [Fleabag] “My sister. She’s uptight, and beautiful, and probably anorexic.”
[Claire] “You’re almost late.” She and Fleabag have something of a
fraught relationship, because Claire is very repressed and in a bit of a subpar
marriage and Fleabag likes to say whatever she’s thinking all the time no
matter the consequences. [Fleabag] “Don’t get drunk and shit in your sink again.” [Claire] “When are you going to STOP bringing that up!?” [Fleabag] “When you do something better!” [Fleabag] “Are you on your period?”
[Claire] “Why would you ask that?” [Fleabag] “The plaits. No reason.”
[Claire] “Say it.”
[Fleabag] “The plaits.” Basically, they clash a lot. [Slapping sounds]
[Fleabag] “Fuck!”
[Claire] “Aw fuck!” [Fleabag] “What was that?” [Claire] “A fucking hug!” [Fleabag] “Well why the fuck did you do that, it was terrifying never do that again!” There’s Dad played by Bill Paterson. [Fleabag] “Dad’s way of coping with two motherless daughters was to buy us tickets to feminist lectures, “Start fucking our godmother, and eventually stop calling.” Dad does not know what to do with his
two daughters. He’s emotionally and verbally stunted to the point that he
can barely speak to them, especially when he should be saying something kind. He’s
in a relationship with their godmother who is horrible, and he sort of knows it.
And he seems eternally bewildered by Fleabag. [Fleabag] “I have a horrible feeling I’m a
greedy, morally bankrupt woman, who can’t even call herself a feminist.” [Dad] “You get all that from your mother.” Then we have Godmother played by Olivia Colman. [Fleabag] “To be fair she’s not an evil stepmother…she’s just a cunt.” She’s horrible. [Godmother] “Please look after yourself. You really do look ghastly darling.” Like so unbelievably horrible in the most passive-aggressive ways. [Godmother] “It’s about power.” Seriously she’s the worst. Then we have Martin played by Brett Gelman. [Fleabag] “Martin. Martin!” He’s Claire’s husband and an
inappropriate alcoholic with boundary issues. [Fleabag] “He’s one of those men who is
explosively sexually inappropriate with everyone,” “But makes you feel bad if you take offense because
‘he was just being fun'” He’s kind of sad in a way, where he
knows he kind of sucks, but he seems incapable of bettering himself, and then
he does shit like this. And this: [Martin] “Its the kids choice if it wants to jump ship right?” Yeah he’s pretty terrible. Then, rounding out the main cast we have Jenny Rainsford as Boo, Fleabag’s dead best friend, and Andrew Scott as The Priest in
series 2. [The Priest] “What was that? It wasn’t a fox was it?” We’ll get to them soon I promise. “This is an excellent one.” So series 1 of ‘Fleabag’ starts by
introducing us to Fleabag, much as she’s introduced to us in the original play: As
the lonely sex addict with the failing cafe. [Fleabag] “I’m just gonna ask her. I’m just gonna come…”
[Claire] “Do you need to borrow money?” [Fleabag] “No! Can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” She tries to get a loan from a
bank to save her cafe, and then this happens: [Fleabag] “I thought I had a top on underneath.”
[Bank Manager] “Yeah okay.” [Fleabag] “No seriously.”
[Bank Manager] “Please leave.” [Fleabag] “Perv.”
[Bank Manager] “Slut.” [Fleabag] “WOW.” And this scene is actually how the play starts…sort of. Series one would go to a lot of places the play didn’t, but most of the major moments and characters that appear in the play do crop up over the course of Series 1, in some form, with the exception of the chatty cafe patron Joe, who doesn’t show up until series two. and by the end of that first episode, she’s drunkenly hammering on her dad’s door at 2 AM. [Fleabag] “I just….uh…. “Aw it’s nothing.” He calls her a cab and after some prompting, We learn why Fleabag is currently like this. [Fleabag] “I opened the cafe with my friend Boo. Yeah, she’s dead now. She accidentally killed herself.” A couple months before the start of
series 1, Fleabag’s best friend Boo discovered her boyfriend was cheating on
her and she decided to throw herself into the bike lane next to the road. She was
only planning on breaking a finger and ending up in the hospital, where she
wouldn’t let the boyfriend see her as punishment for his infidelity. But her
plan didn’t exactly go well…you know… And so Fleabag is alone in the world now,
uprooted and at sea. You see Boo was the only tether she had left. Her closest connection to another human being since her mother’s death [Fleabag] “All the love I have for her…I don’t know where to…put it now…” [Boo] “I’ll take it.”
[Fleabag laughs] [Boo] “No I’m serious, it sounds lovely.
[Fleabag laughs] [Boo] “It’s got to go somewhere.” Boo was that perfectly imperfect friend we all either have or have been wishing for for
years. [Boo] “No, seriously. There’s nothing wrong with your nose.” “I mean there’s nothing wrong with…”
[Fleabag] “Say that again?” [Boo] “I mean there’s…”
[Fleabag] “What?” [Boo] “I don’t know.” [Boo screaming]
[Fleabag] “Oh my god!!” [Boo] “I always say the wrong thing!” And the two of them had each other’s backs. It was them against the world. [Boo] “Let’s never ask anyone for anything they don’t get it.” [Fleabag] “Deal.” I mean technically, Fleabag does have this
boyfriend but… [Fleabag] “I admire how much Harry commits to our breakups.” Yeah they aren’t really happening long term. [Harry] “You’re not like other girls you can…keep up.” Ugh. And in her absence Boo’s presence is a constant specter sitting just off to one side haunting Fleabag and us alongside her. [Boo in a recorded answering message] “Hi this is Boo. “I can’t come to the phone right now, but please leave me a messiagio I will get back to you.” [Boo] “And anyway that’s the very reason why they put rubbers on the end of pencils.” [Fleabag] “What to fuck hamsters?” “No, because people make mistakes.” There have been some theories, that the person Fleabag is always
talking to and she looks at the camera is actually Boo or her ghost or
something. It’s a cool theory although not what I’m holding on to. So anyway
Boo is dead, and Fleabag is a wreck without her. Throwing herself at literally any
warm body that will have her [Fleabag] “Fucked me up the arse.” I mean based on what we learned
she might have been struggling with this even before Boo’s death. But since then? [Fleabag] “I hate myself.” Yeah I think it’s safe to say this isn’t exactly going well. And of all the people in her life it seems that Claire is the only one who’s even paying
attention what a train wreck Fleabag has become. I mean in fairness she’s not exactly doing so hot herself. [Fleabag] “We’ve paid them to let us clean their house in silence.” [Claire’s laughing] [Claire crying] [Fleabag] “Jesus.” And let me just take a minute to talk about how much I love this shows portrayal of sisters. [Fleabag] “Shit…I’m wearing the top that she
lost. This is gonna be tense.” [Claire] “Are you okay?”
[Fleabag] “…Yeah.” [Claire] “Tell the truth.” It’s that perfect blend familiarity and frustration that I find really relatable, and not something I see on screen very often. You see, movies looove to delve into brothers. Maybe it’s some archetypal Cain and Abel nonsense I don’t know. But MAN, media just loves some brothers Or sometimes a brother and
sister pair just for variety. But aside from ‘Parent Trap,’ ‘Frozen,’ and ‘Lilo & Stitch,’ there aren’t a lot of pieces of media about sisters, or pieces of media that explore the relationship between sisters in any meaningful way.
[Did I mention Lilo & Stitch us a fantastic movie? And a beautiful exploration of sisterhood] I mean I can think of one or two indie flicks and some bad rom-coms, but nothing that really resonated with me.
[Except for Lilo & Stitch which is a perfect movie] I don’t know know why this is, although I’m gonna hazard a guess that it’s got something to do with misogyny and the patriarchy and a lack of women writers in Hollywood, but I don’t know. I really don’t. And by the way Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller have been good friends for a long time
and always wanted to play sisters in something. [Pheobe Waller-Bridhe] To be able to do it on our own terms as well, has been really fun,” “Because it means every single time we have an idea or even sometimes a little moment” “Just happens between us and we’re like… going in.” And that brings us back to Claire and Fleabag, who are so good together. In series one we watch them try to reconnect or…try to just connect at all.
Because they’ve been in each other’s lives forever, but I get the feeling it’s
been like this: [Claire] “Aw, fuck!”
[Fleabag] “What was that?” for a while. And they do come together eventually. In Episode four when their dad sends them off to a silent women’s retreat the shared
proximity sort of brings it out of them Until we get to Claire’s big news. She
got the big promotion she’s always wanted at her job and it would mean
going to Finland, and putting a lot of miles between herself and her terrible husband,
her weird stepson, and her fucked-up sister.” [Fleabga] “Why are you getting on a plane to your cold rich future?” [Godmother] “Oh…yeah! Why?”
[Dad] “Its everything you’ve ever hoped for.” [Claire] “Because you can’t just fuck off on airplanes and leave your weird stepson and broken sister to fend for themselves, okay!? Fleabag tells her to go, for the money and for herself and Claire resolves to do that until… [Fleabag] “You’re not going to Finland.” In the last episode of series one you watch
all the tenuous bits of a decent life that Fleabag managed to pull together
for six episodes come crashing down around her. Her ridiculously hot, maybe
boyfriend dumps her for another woman. Her actual boyfriend already dumped her
and gets to make a victory lap with his new girlfriend. Her Godmother’s behavior towards her is so egregious it pushes her over the edge which leads to this: [Glass breaking] Which leads to this: [Dad] “I deserve to be happy. I am allowed to move on. I have a good life and I am happy alright?” And this: [Godmother] “I’m sorry you had to hear that. But you did have to hear it.” And then there’s this: [Fleabag] “He came out into the garden and he–!”
[Claire] “I don’t want to hear it.” [Fleabag] “Claire, you have to be believe me.”
[Claire] “How can I believe you?” [Fleabag] “Because I’m your sister!
[Claire] “After what you did to Boo!” And so Fleabag goes back to her gerbil themed cafe. The theme was all Boo’s idea after Fleabag got her Hillary. [Fleabag] “But Boo took Hillary very seriously as a gift and soon everything became guinea-pig related.” Fleabag doesn’t even
like the damn thing but it’s the last piece of her friend that she has left, so
she gives it one less pet and a bowl full of cucumber and contemplates
following in Boo’s footsteps. [Intense music] [Music stops as the car pulls up] And then the bank manager comes back. You know…that one? [Bank Manager] “Slut.”
[Fleabag] “Wow!” You see she bumped into the bank manager back at that retreat in Episode four. He was that some sort of men’s betterment workshop next door. It mostly seemed to involve men yelling the word ‘slut’ a lot? [A Man yelling far away] “Slut!” [Fleabag] “…Yes?” But anyway, they bumped into each other and had a sweet and honest moment together. He opened up about his mistakes and his dreams, and in the privacy of her own mind so did Fleabag. [Bank Manager] “I want to apologize to… everyone.” “I want to take clean cups of the dishwasher. And the next morning, I want to watch my wife drink from them.” [Fleabag] “I just want to cry all the time.” And so in the final episode The Bank Manager stops by her cafe. Or more accurately, I think he was driving by and saw her looking ready to throw herself
into the cycling lane and…. [Bank Manager] “Are you okay?” They have a talk where she finally drops
the act in front of another human being and just says what she’s really thinking
out loud. [Fleabag] “And I fucked up my family.” [Bank Manager] “…Did you?” [Fleabag] “And I fucked my friend by fucking her boyfriend.” [Bank Manager] “…Right.” “And sometimes I wish I didn’t even know that fucking existed.” “And I know that my body as it is now really is the only thing I have left and when that gets old and unfuckable I may as well just kill it.” thing I have left him and that gets old
and unfuckable I’m a tortoise “Either everybody feels like this a little bit and they’re just not talking about it. Or I am completely fucking alone.” And The Bank Manager says: [Bank Manage] “People make mistakes.” [Fleabag] “That’s why they put rubbers on the ends of pencils.” And sits down to interview her again for the loan that might keep her cafe from closing down. [Bank Manager] “Well I’ve uh…looked through your application form.”
[Turns pages] “It says you run a cafe…for guinea pigs.” [Fleabag chuckles] [Bank Manager] “Told you it was funny.” And that’s the end of series one. The play ends similarly, with a version of this scene. And in either version her life is still a total wreck, but there’s the tiniest glimmer of something better on the horizon. Also in the show she keeps stealing this gold statue from her shitty godmother and it’s amazing. This show was about a lot of things. About cynicism, nihilism, religion, and according to its creator, female rage. [Fleabag] “Where’s my vagina?”
[Rat Faced Man] “Yeah.” [Fleabag] “I don’t carry a vagina around with me. That would be way too provocative.” [Both chuckle]
[Fleabag] “Didn’t get it.” There is something so inherently feminine about the show in a way that might make some people
uncomfortable. In the way the show unflinchingly portrays female cynicism,
and sexuality, and the woman’s want for sex, but also the idea of what she might
or might not actually get out of sex. [Fleabag] “I’m not obsessed for sex. I just can’t stop thinking about it. The performance of it, “the awkwardness of it. Not so much the feeling of it.” Fleabag likes to have sex. But she also doesn’t seem to like it [Fleabag] “I’m amazing.” “He’s wasting me.” And media likes to make jokes about the difficulties of women enjoying sex. A woman orgasming or faking it as played as a joke quite often. But here it’s just a statement of
fact. Hell, even when she does actually meet a man who’s really good at it, she
still doesn’t really enjoy it [Fleabag] “You made me come nine times.” [Hot Misogynist] “…Nine times” And that’s because as much as Fleabag seeks out the physical as a way to distract from her emotional issues, It seems that deep down she does actually
want to love and be loved. [Dad] “I think you know how to love better than any of us. That’s why you find it all so painful.” I should probably state here that I
don’t think that’s a universal statement about women. Women will get or not get
whatever they want on sex People are different, I just like when media
actually delves into a specific point of view because that’s a hell of a lot more
interesting than like…you know. Also there’s that interesting detail of how
this show portrays sex. If ‘Russian Doll’ kept us at a distance, ‘Fleabag’ does the
opposite dropping us right into the middle of it, without any warning or preamble. It’s unemotional. Cold even. As Fleabag will turn to us and casually
narrate whatever she’s experiencing. Which, by the way, is a sign that she’s
not really engaging with the partner in question. The only time she doesn’t do
that is… Also people often talk about how raunchy this show is. You don’t actually See anything. I mean there was a wall of ceramic
penises and that rubber vagina and the sex shop. But the only real stuff we see
is…this: [Pheobe Waller-Bridge] “It was really important there was no kind of…nudity or like…sexual gratuity in the images.”
[Sorry they get their nails done in this interview. I didn’t edit these shots in] “So you never see anyone naked. What was really exciting was knowing that in a close up…”
[Sorry they get their nails done in this interview. I didn’t edit these shots in] “That the character, mid-sex, could turn around to you and go ‘he’s gonna fuck me up the ass.'” And that’s enough to put a lot of viewers off [Fleabag] “Bit much?” But what I find more interesting than all of that is the way this show hones in on the frustrations of being a modern-day woman
[Or a person who identifies as a woman] [Claire] “Tell the truth.”
[Fleabag] “It’s horrendous.” [Claire] “I look like a pencil.” There’s an entire scene about the importance of women’s hair. [Antony] “Hair isn’t everything.” [Fleabag] “Hair is…everything.” “Its the difference between a good day, and a bad day.” “We’re meant to think that it’s a symbol of power. That is a symbol of fertility.” “Some people are exploited for it, and it pays
your fucking bills. Hair is everything!” Being a modern woman can be tough. Whether it’s the dumb stuff like trying to look nice all the time, but not too nice at the wrong occasion. [Fleabag] “I don’t know! I just woke up looking amazing and now everybody’s going to think I got a fucking facial for my mother’s funeral!” [Claire] “Oh what the hell, you look incredible.” Or trying to succeed professionally when people might judge you based on your gender. [Belinda] “Oh are you a woman in business?” [Fleabag] “What…Don’t you think it’s good that–? [Belinda] “No. No, it’s ghettoizing. It’s a subsection of success.” Or even just trying to be a feminist while balancing all those shallow cares you can’t seem to let go of like your hair, or your weight, or the way a stranger on the street might judge you when you’re having a good day. [Older Man coughs] “Walk of shame.” Also there’s this: [Belinda] “Women are born with pain built-in. Period pains, sore boobs, childbirth, you know…” “We carry it within ourselves throughout our lives. Men don’t. They have to seek it out, “they invent all these gods, and demons, and
things so they can feel guilty about things,” “And we have it all going on in here.” I don’t know if that’s a universal fact but it feels true to me and I suspect to a lot of women in the world.
[Or people who identify as women] And it feels true to Fleabag who is
told constantly how alike she is to her dead mother. For better, and for worse she
apparently has a lot in common with the woman who used to do angry squirrel
voices in the park. The woman with great tits and farts that sounded either
like a door opening or a suspicious duck. The woman who used to have too much fun
for her husband. [Dad] “I loved her but I didn’t like that she was….” Fleabag is not a
perfect person and she might not even be a good feminist all the time, but she’s
fascinating to watch as she navigates the waters of being a friend, a lover, a sister, and a daughter, and maybe how she learns to live with herself. [Fleabag laughing] “I hate myself” [Godmother gasps] [Glass breaking] [Slapping sound] [Fleabag] “I’m sorry”
[Dad] “I…think you should go.” I never said she was good at it. So after Fleabag’s life almost completely falls apart and she’s given a second chance at the loan for her cafe, series two starts…well…it starts like this this: [Fleabag] “This is a love story.” Did you know there wasn’t even supposed to be a series two for ‘Fleabag?’ [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “Amazon and BBC came back and said ”Do you wanna do it again?'” “And I had a lot of integrity and I said ‘no thank you very much…I’m an artist.'” Phoebe Waller said that after she
stopped looking at the camera the story was over. But then the show did well and
she had an idea for what season two could be. [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “So I thought I was going to leave it and then I had an idea of how I can play with the form again,” “And what the camera–what the audience would mean to her again,” “and what she would mean to the audience. So we’re going on a different journey together.” And I’ll just say here now that while I really like series one, I think series two was
absolutely phenomenal in the way it builds on what series one gave us. So we
find Fleabag a little over a year after the end of series one. She’s picked
herself up stopped having sex altogether. [Arsehole Guy] “Can I at least go down on you?”
[Fleabag] “NO!” Started exercising more, [Trainer] “SQUAT!”
[Fleabag] “SQUAT!” And just generally trying to live a better healthier life. [Claire] “Putting pine nuts on your salad doesn’t make you a grown up.” [Fleabag] “Fucking does.” She hasn’t spoken to her sister since that night at the Godmother’s art exhibition except for this: [Fleabag] “Its lovely there this time of year.” They’re at a dinner celebrating their dad’s
engagement to Godmother [Everybody] “To love!” Also there’s this guy. [Fleabag] “Don’t know who who this guy is.” [The Priest] “As long as you confess…”
[Fleabag] “Oh god he’s their priest.” [The Priest] “…Then you’ve nothing to fucking worry about.” [Fleabag] “Their cool swear-y priest.” And over course of the first episode we learn that…not only has Fleabag gone and tried to be better? Her cafe is actually doing well now. [Fleabag] “It really is…it actually is.” We learn that Claire went to Finland and she’s really convinced herself that everything in her life is absolutely fine. [Claire] “I take all the negative emotions and just bottle them and bury them, and they never come out. [The Priest] “I’m not sure–”
[Claire] “I basically never been better.” She’s also trying to have a baby with Martin. And this cool priest is going to be marrying Dad and Godmother at their wedding. And possibly the biggest surprise of the evening for everyone is… This new and mildly improved Fleabag. Her attempts at good behavior seemed to have them really on edge. [Dad] “Well you’re being very…well you’re not being naughty.” [Claire] “You’re being so quiet! why are you saying anything?!” That is of course until this happens [Claire] “Fuck…excuse me.” [Fleabag] “Claire, you’ve been ages.” [Fleabag] “I’m not looking at your period!!
Just take this–oh god.” [Claire] “Its not a period its a fucking miscarriage okay?” And then Claire goes back to dinner pretending that everything is still fine, when all Fleabag wants to do is get her to the hospital, which is a really sane reaction
to this insane situation. And in the end this happens: [Fleabag] “Oh for fucks sakes! Stop it!”
[Everyone else stops talking] [Martin] “Here we go.” [Fleabag] “Sorry I just–”
[The Priest] “What’s happened?” [Claire] “Nothing’s happened.”
[Godmother] “What’s happened?” [Fleabag] “Something’s happened.” Claire asked her not to
tell anyone about it and so… [Overlapping chatter]
[Fleabag] “I just–I just had a little…” [Godmother] “This is a safe space.” [Fleabag] “I just… [Fleabag] “I had a…
[Dad] “What? What darling?” [Fleabag] “A little…miscarriage.” In her panic to find some excuse that might
get them out of this dinner, Fleabag claims Claire’s miscarriage [Claire] “What the fuck!” And then this happens: [Martin] “It’s probably for the best. You know it’s like a goldfish out the bowl sort of thing.” “It’s the kids choice, if it wants to jump ship right?” [Punching sound & Martin screaming] and this [More grunting and screaming] [Just chaos at this point] and this: [Godmother] “OH FOR GODS SAKE!” and now we’re back to the mirror and the love story. The Priest stayed behind to make sure she was okay, because he believes she just had a miscarriage. He gives her his address and
tells her to come by anytime. And then Fleabag finds Claire waiting for her with the cab. [Claire] “We’ll talk about this tomorrow.” [Fleabag] “Could you take us to the nearest hospital please.” [Cab Driver] “Yup.” Also this happens the [Claire] “The priest is quite hot.”
[Fleabag] “So hot.” And thus begins series two: the love story. So I do have to just really quickly talk
about the music for this show, because it is consistently fascinating, and never what you expect. The opening title track for series one is just this: [Fast paced, frantic jazz that ends abruptly] That’s it. I didn’t cut it or anything. It’s just barely two seconds of frantic, cacophonous jazz. I didn’t even know if that track has a name since it seems
most of the soundtrack has never been officially released, and I couldn’t find
a single interview with the composer or showrunner that talked about this choice.
And yet it’s fitting to have such an abrupt, frenetic piece as the title track
for series 1. It really does feel like somebody put Fleabag’s mental state into
musical form. And by the way the music for the show is composed by Phoebe
Waller’s sister Isobel Waller-Bridge. The pair are apparently quite close. Isobel described a shorthand for collaborating where Phoebe would say: For the show’s credit
music they settled on a rock guitar riff. Isobel said that when the pair discussed it, they said her theme should be ‘unapologetic’ So that’s her main
musical identity in series 1 a frantic, interrupted piece of jazz, and a badass
rock guitar riff. It kind of feels like the rock guitar is the front she puts up
and that abrupt, little piece of jazz is what’s really going on inside of her
head. And then we get to series 2 and we lose that opening bit of jazz in favor
of [Church-y choir music] Because if series one was about a woman
falling apart than series two is about her trying to put herself back together
and find meaning. There is some religion involved, but it’s an interesting choice
to make this the musical identity for most of series two.
Unlike series one we actually get a fair bit of this music throughout the show, in
series one we got other tracks like: ‘A Distant Dream’ by New York Jazz Lounge or
‘Mirror Lake’ by Angus McRae, but this show is fairly sparse with its music and
that badass rock guitar only comes in for the credits. So it’s interesting how prominent these vaguely
[‘Kyrie’ by Isobel Waller-Bridge plays] Christian musical cues are in series two. I have a
feeling it has as much to do with the love story as it does with religion. And by the way in one series two track, ‘Kyrie’ Some of the lyrics are about…vaginas and
stuff…in Greek. Seriously they snuck in dirty lyrics in Greek. And while we’re
talking about religion and sex, let’s talk about…. So in series two we meet The
Priest. Like Fleabag, he doesn’t have a name and fans like to call him ‘The Hot
Priest.’ After series one’s endless slog of terrible men she chooses to sleep with,
series two begins with an abstinent Fleabag [Arsehole Guy] “Do you wanna have sex?”
[Fleabag] “…No!” And then she falls in love with a Catholic priest. [The Priest] “I’d spent 40 days and 40 nights in that desert.” [Fleabag] “Oh god, I fancy a priest.” And the thing is this is not a one-sided thing. [Fleabag] “What if you meet someone you like.” [The Priest] “I talk, and drink, and laugh, and give them Bibles and hope they eventually leave me alone” [Fleabag] “What if you meet someone you love.” The Priest has clearly lived a hard life before he found religion. His parents are alcoholics and his brother is…. [The Priest] “He’s a pedophile.” Also there’s this: [The Priest] “It won’t bring any good. I’ve been there many times.” [Fleabag] “How many times?” [The Priest] “…Many” You see the problem is that for once it isn’t just about lust for Fleabag. I mean it is about that too [Fleabag] “His beautiful neck.” But for once it’s about something deeper too. [The Priest] “I’d really like to be your friend though.” [Fleabag] “I’d like to be your friend too…We’ll last a week.” The more time the two of them spend together, The more becomes clear that they’re
falling in love. [The Priest] “I believe that I’m supposed to love people…as a father.” [Fleabag] “We can arrange that.” [The Priest] “A father of many.” [Fleabag] “I’ll go up to three.” [The Priest] “It’s not gonna happen.” [Fleabag] “Two then.”
[The Priest] “Okay two.” I think they fall in love with each other for all their messy quirks and weirdness. [Fleabag] “I sometimes worry that I wouldn’t be such a feminist if I had bigger tits.” [The Priest snickers] [The Priest] “Okay, Foxes have been
after me for years.” ‘When I was out of monastery, I woke up
just feeling a bit weird like there might be a fox about.” “And a FOX!! Was sitting underneath my window…looking at me like this…” And they do fall in love as much as they don’t want to… [The Priest] “I can’t have sex with you because I’ll fall in love with you.” “We’re gonna have sex aren’t we?” “Okay.” And I do want to take a quick second and just say how happy I am to see Andrew Scott in something good? All the dumb stuff
with Moriarty and Sherlock wasn’t really his fault. He delivered exactly what they
asked for. [Andrew Scott] “And I just think that b—after Sherlock…I thought…because it was so plot driven.” “Are you dead? Is Sherlock dead? Is any–am I dead?” [sputters] But between this show and ‘Handsome Devil’ I’m just really pleased to see
Andrew Scott getting some nice, meaty roles for a change. Since he’s usually
just cast as dumb villains in stuff like ‘Spectre’ also Phoebe wrote the role
for him, and the two were in a play together back in 2009 called ‘Roaring
Trade’ and….these are images from that. So that’s fun. But back to The Priest who is
as it happens not just a love interest, He also represents the idea of a higher
power, but it’s like…okay if you saw the ‘Russian Doll’ video then you know, I’m
extremely Jewish, and I don’t go here. Judaism is really different y’all. Please
stop comparing them and remove the term from this earth please? But seeing how Christianity tends to dominate the world and media at large,
I do find this to be a really interesting take on it. [Fleabag] “Do you think I should become a Catholic? [The Priest] “No don’t do that. I like that you believe in a meaningless existence.” “The funeral liturgy says that life has changed, not ended. I always loved that if that’s of any help.” Perhaps because it’s one that feels so personal. [Fleabag] “The world is made in seven days…” “And on the first day, light came, and then a few days later…the sun came.” [The Priest] “Yeah, that’s ridiculous.”
[Fleabag] “But you believe that!” [The Priest] “It’s not a fact, it’s poetry, it’s moral code. It’s for interpretation to help us work out God’s plan for us!” I love that we have his
character, who chose this life, and genuinely finds joy and fulfillment in it. [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “Throughout all the kind of controversy around the church specially the Catholic Church,” “Not—And religion a lot of time…a lot of the basic, on the ground, like good things about them are lost.” “And like the basic Christian principles of just don’t be a dick and don’t kill anybody and like…be nice…” “And like share. And all wrapped up in one person who was also a real man.” The Priest is willing to be alone and a little lonely, if it means keeping that
meaning and purpose and poetry in his life. And in a sense I think that’s some
of what attracts Fleabag to him. That sense of purpose and faith, because she might be putting her life together, but she still feels that loss, that palpable
sense of something missing. At one particularly low point she actually goes to the church to pray. That thought is interrupted by The Priest, who seems to
be having a bit of a meltdown alone in his little office, probably about the fight they had earlier, where Fleabag couldn’t tell him about Boo. [The Priest] “I’m just trying to help you.” [Fleabag] “You should probably be getting back to God don’t you think?” In the end he asks her to try confessing her sins. [Fleabag] “Why would I tell you my sins”
[The Priest] “Because I think it would make you feel better…” “And because I want to know.” It starts out cute enough, much like the therapy session she had two episodes ago. With jokes: [Fleabag] “And there’s been a spot of sodomy, a bit of violence, and of course the endless fucking blasphemy.” But pretty soon she finally manages to say something real. [Fleabag] “I just think I want someone to tell me…” “How to live my life, Father. Because so far I think I’ve been getting it wrong.” Which leads to this: [Fleabag] “Just fucking tell me what to do, Father.” [The Priest] “Kneel.” Which leads to this: Which leads to this: [Loud thudding sound] [Heavy breathing] And finally…in the end… To this: [The Priest] “We’re gonna have sex aren’t we?” [Fleabag] “Yeah.” [The Priest] “Okay.” So now that we have the set up,
let’s take a minute to talk about… The term originates in theaters where most proscenium stages have three walls along the back and
sides of the stage, but no fourth wall. Instead of that fourth wall, there’s an
audience. Therefore the phrase… has always been more of
a theoretical concept rather than a literal one. And of course theater has
broken that conceptual wall over and over again for years. Pick any Shakespeare play, and there will inevitably be a moment when… [Hamlet] “To be…” “or not to be…” “That is the question.” Every Shakespeare play has a moment when a character disengages from the scene they’re in, and turns to us, the audience, and expresses their innermost thoughts. Other characters in the room don’t hear these asides, they are for the audience, and the audience alone. [Benedick’ “Here comes Beatrice by this day she’s a fair lady.” “I do spy some marks of love in her.” It’s of course noteworthy then that ‘Fleabag’ started as a play. [Fleabag] “I woke in the morning to find a note from Harry saying, ‘That was the last straw.'” “Which is pretty out of the blue to be honest, I didn’t realize he was counting straws,” “But it’s nice to know he was paying attention.” Hey look it’s the needy waitress from series two. But then we get into film and breaking the
fourth wall took…two distinct shapes. One of them was more… [King Arthur] “Camelot.” [Sir Galahad] “Camelot.” [Sir Lancelot] “Camelot” [Patsy] “It’s only a model.”
[King Arthur shushes him] There’s a metatextual fourth wall break in film that happens when characters acknowledge the tropes and trappings of the film they’re in. They know they’re in a movie and they reference it for a joke or for…whatever this is. [Narrator] “Because I don’t like you.” [Thor] “Well I hate you, you snotty son of a–
[Narrator] “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” [Rewinding sounds] [Max] “Thor, were you fighting with the narrator.” Although even this too can be traced back to Shakespeare. But the other kind of fourth wall break goes straight back to those soliloquies of old [Homer Simpson] “If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker. Especially you!” The direct address and the act of looking at the camera mimics the intimacy in a theater when an actor addresses an audience. And we’ve had a lot of this in film over the years but it’s usually done for the sake of a joke, or being edgy, or whatever. In interviews
Waller- Bridge discussed a wanting to mess with the form and with expectations.
She said she was fascinated by the relationship between an audience and
performer. [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “So what was exciting for me about the first series was…” “I felt like I’m inviting the audience in because it’s direct address,” “And then by the end, the character is trying to push the audience away,” “And so I wanted the audience to feel complicit and that was a strange experience for them.” But also there’s the fact that this…is her coping mechanism. In a manner of speaking…we are
her coping mechanism. [Therapist] “Oh so you do have someone to talk to.”
[Fleabag] “Yeah.” Many people might feel the need to put on an act sometimes, and in a sense, we are the audience to her act. Her never-ending facade. In series one she
keeps the true nature of her betrayal of Boo a secret, and when Claire reveals
it, she looks at us…with horror. And then practically runs from the camera. In
the play she goes even further trying to defend herself to the audience by saying: But in the show she can’t even muster up the excuse. And she doesn’t look at us again for the
rest of the episode…because…now we know her shame. [Pheobe Waller-Bridge] “The pressure of the camera was that she had a secret…and she felt like,” “She was gonna crack under the pressure
of the camera saying like,” “‘There’s something going on with you, what is that?'” “And she’s going ‘I’m just hilarious come into my hilarious life. There’s nothing wrong with me…I swear.'” In series 2 when Fleabag goes to therapy, the therapist asks if she has
any friends, and initially she says no. But then she changes her answer. [Therapist] “Do you see them a lot?”
[Fleabag] “Oh they’re…they’re always there, um….” “They’re always there.” Because now we know it all, and we’re just along for the ride. We’re the little voice in the back of
her head. The one stable presence in her life, even if we’re not really in her life. It’s still a facade, but the tone of it has changed somewhat. [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “I think the last time she knew why it was there and” “this time I don’t think she knows, and–
which means she knows that there’s…” “a journey she’s gonna go on. There’s
another thing she has to learn about herself,” “but this time she’s not aware of it.” If series one was almost conspiratorial, series two is well…confessional. [Fleabag] “She…she–don’t say it–she—she actually uh–just don’t say it–” “She actually orgasmed when she finished it. Just said it.” And then this happens. [Fleabag] “We’ll last a week.” [The Priest] “What was that? Where’d you just go?” And that is the moment when the series as we know it starts to break down. Because every time Fleabag is looking at us,
engaging with us…she’s disengaging from the world around her, and The Priest is
the first person who actually notices. [Fleabag] “He’s a bit annoying actually.”
[The Priest] “What is that?” “That thing that you’re doing…it’s like you disappear.” there’s this idea that Vanity Fair television critic Sonia Saraiya put into words when reviewing ‘Fleabag’ series 2. And that’s what this is. [The Priest] “Tell me, come on.”
[Fleabag] “No! Nothing.” [The Priest] “Gah!”
[Fleabag] “Nothing!!” Because The Priest sees her. Really sees her. [The Priest] “You just…went somewhere.” It’s amazing, and also terrifying. [Fleabag] “Oh my God, we’re gonna have sex.”
[The Priest] “For fuck’s sake! Stop that!” We are her coping mechanism, but we’re also the baggage she’s dragging around behind her. and he’s the first person who sees it. A
lot of people like to theorize about what all that means. About who Fleabag is talking to. And I think it comes down to the names…or the
lack of them. [Godmother] “And Asif this is um…this is…” “This is…God how extraordinary, I always call you darling.” In an interview with Decider Waller-Bridge said on the subject of her own characters lack of a name: In another interview she said: [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] “I think it’s ’cause I felt like…there’s an element of the everywoman about her that I wanted to keep.” “And that she wasn’t somebody who um…yeah, could be defined.” And a few characters get names like Claire, or Boo. But so many of them are just Needy
Waitress, Dad, Godmother, The Priest, or Fleabag. Fleabag becomes almost
archetypal for the lack of her name. Unique and undefined in such a way that
we can identify with her. She is the lens through which we see the world and it’s
not always a rosy look. But we get to see it all, entirely through her eyes. Every
character we meet, we meet through her. [Fleabag] “Don’t know who this guy is.” “Martin. Martin!” And the lack of names along with those constant asides, bring us further inside her point
of view. It makes us relate to her in such a way, where even if we don’t have
all of her specific problems, there’s something about this: [Fleabag] “And I know that my body as it is now really is the only thing I have left,” “And when that gets older and unfuckable I may as well kill it.” “I just think I want someone to tell me how to live my life, Father because so far I think I’ve been getting it wrong.” That feels so familiar. We may not have dealt with her
particular issues, but we’ve all felt like this sometimes. Like we’re stupid, or
mean, or broken inside. Fleabag is talking to us because we’re the little voice in
her head, but also because…in a sense We are Fleabag. So after all that, let’s look at the
finale of series two. Over the course of series two we learned a bit more about
the death of Fleabag’s mother, [Fleabag sobbing] [Fleabag] “I just…” [Sniffles] “I don’t know what to–”
[Dad] “I know.” “Buck up…Smile…Charm.” “Off we go.” We learned that, yes Martin’s son really
is that creepy. [Jake] “Tell her…to leave…him.” We learned that Claire was relieved about the miscarriage, because it meant she wouldn’t be having Martin’s baby. And also she has a massive crush on her Finnish co-worker Klare. [Fleabag] “What’s his name?” [Claire] “…Klare.” To be fair, he seems really sweet [Klare] “Oh my god, Claire, I love your hair!”
[Claire giggles nervously] “It’s so cute and edgy!” Also this happened: [Fleabag] “I just thought we were hanging out…just as friends.” [Claire] “We’re not friends. We are sisters.” “Get your own friends,” Which oof that hurt. We also spent a bit more time with Fleabag and The Priest and she eventually told him that she faked the miscarriage to cover
for her sister’s real one. But she never told him about Boo. Also the two of them
had sex. So episode six of series two begins with that dreaded wedding we’ve
been building up to all series long. [Claire] “It’s gonna be a lovely day isn’t it?”
[Fleabag] “I’m afraid so.” Fleabag goes to properly return this statue she stole from Godmother and then this happens: [Godmother] “You know I often thought it strange that of all my pieces you chose to take her.” [Fleabag] “Why?” [Godmother] She was based on your mother.” They go back outside and after some more passive aggression from Godmother, Claire finally admits to her, The Priest, her father, and her husband that it was her miscarriage all along. [Claire] “It was my fucking miscarraige.”
[Laughter] [Martin] “It was my baby.” [Claire] “I guess it was your babies way of saying it didn’t want you as its father.” “Like a goldfish out of the bowl sort of thing.” And then she demands a divorce. [Martin] “I am not going to leave you until you are down on your knees…begging me.” [Claire] “Please leave me.” Then Dad goes missing before the ceremony and Dodmother is forced to ask for their help. [Godmother] “Please.” And Fleabag finds him up in
the attic with a case of cold feet and his foot stuck in a mousetrap. It’s more
the cold feet than the mousetrap really. [Fleabag] “Do you want to make a run for it. I
can smuggle you out one of mom’s dresses.” [Dad] “You would as well.” But in the end it’s clear that he does want this. God only knows why, since Godmother is a horrible sociopath.
But it seems that this will make him happy enough. Which is all anybody can
ask for. So when he tries to say he can’t. And Fleabag tells him: “Buck up…Smiles…Charm. Off we go.” And he says “I think you know how to love better than any of us, that’s why you find it all so painful.” I love this bit. It’s such a touching
little button on two series of a difficult relationship. In the end we get
this sweet, and slightly terrifying moment when Dad is just too scared to
let go Fleabag. We were just reminded again how much
Fleabag is like her mother. [Dad] “You’re the way you are because of her. And it just was bits that you need to cling to.” And it feels like this is one last leap of
faith or terror that he has to make, as he says goodbye to his former life with
Fleabag’s mother. Afterward this happens: [Dad] “Thank you…and thank you.” But first The Priest has to give his speech and Claire has to sort her shit out. [Fleabag] “You go and get him.” “Is it running through the airport kind of love?” [Claire] “I’m not going to the airport. He would think I was insane.” “I don’t know when his flight is or which terminal.” “Imagine if I knew that. Imagine
him finding I knew all that.” “Imagine if he was just in Boots buying a pair of tweezers in terminal five, and suddenly I was there, ‘Hello Klare.'” [Fleabag] “Yeah okay that would be intense.” [Claire] “The only person I’d run for an airport for is you.” Did I mention I love these two so freaking much? And then The Priest starts his speech: [The Priest] “Love is awful.” “It’s awful. It makes you say and do things you never thought you would do!” [Claire] “There’s something wrong with your priest.” You see earlier when Fleabag and The
Priest frantically made out by the side of the house, this happened: [The Priest] “I don’t know. Oh I don’t know what this feeling is.” [Fleabag] “Is it god or is it me?”
[The Priest] “I don’t know.” And well. Claire leaves to go hunt down Klare and The Priest finishes his speech [The Priest] “Love isn’t something that weak people do.” “Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope.” “I think what they mean is…when you find somebody that you love it feels like hope.” [Fleabag whispering] “Go out the side way. Now.” [The Priest] “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope…in the lord.” And Fleabag goes to wait at their bus stop. And The Priest meets her. They talk for a few minutes in that companionable, but not quite comfortable way, because they’re both just delaying the inevitable. [Fleabag] “It’s god isn’t it?”
[The Priest] “Yeah.” That speech he gave? That raging, romantic, frustrated, lovely speech…was about making the choice to love. And he had to choose
between his faith or Fleabag and… He chose faith. [Fleabag] “You know the worst thing is…That I fucking love you.” The vulnerability of this scene is the real culmination of her growth over the whole series. [Fleabag] “Maybe happiness isn’t in what you believe but who you believe.” Because in the end her belief in him is what brought this moment of real, brave confession. [Fleabag] “I love you.” Not some holy, religious thing. But
still something precious and sacred. She opens herself up and tells him that she
loves him, and she means it. And in a sense they’re both finally brave enough
to face this moment…even as it’s ending. He gets up to leave, tells her to never
come to his church again, and then he says: [The Priest] “I love you too.” “…Okay.” And then he’s gone. And earlier he said: [The Priest] “It’ll pass.” Which is perhaps the hardest and most true thing of all. Everything passes, everything ends, and with enough time, both of them will move on, because
they have to, and because that’s life. Because they can’t be together, and they
both know it. And then she sees a fox. Maybe it’s a sign from God, or a joke, but
she sees an actual fucking fox. [Fleabag] “He went that way.” Valerie Clarke from Screen Rant posited
that the fox and, The Priest’s obsession with foxes, might actually just be his own weird emotional baggage/coping mechanism externalized. [The Priest] “Oh fuck! Jesus…”
[Fleabag] “Oh god! fuck you’re here” [The Priest] “I thought you were a fox.” Maybe the fox isn’t strictly real, much in the same way that Fleabag isn’t looking at a literal camera. But it’s a coping mechanism made physical for him and us to see. So the way he can see Fleabag looking at us? She can see his fox. Whatever it means, she
sends the fox on its way and the song ‘This Feeling’ by the Alabama Shakes starts to play.
[‘This Feeling’ by the Alabama Shakes plays] The lyrics talk about a person
[It actually started when the fox showed up but y’know] who’s been struggling for a long time, about how they finally have a feeling that things are gonna be alright.
She opens up her bag to reveal the statue she stole from Godmother. The
statue inspired by her mother who’s been haunting her since before the series
began. Fleabag said once that she was afraid of ‘forgetting things, forgetting
people.’ I don’t think she’ll ever have to worry about that, but I’m still glad she
has another piece of her mother to hold onto. And then Fleabag looks at us. At her imaginary friend, and audience. Her coping mechanism. Her facade. And when we try to follow her she just…shakes her head. She’s finally outgrown us and she’s
ready to move on to whatever the next stage of her life is gonna be. And that
means saying goodbye… And it means that everything is gonna be alright…in the end. I’m sure she’ll have many more loves and
losses, because she’s strong, and brave, and knows how to love better than any of
us, in spite of it all being so painful. It reminds me a little bit of the ending Stephen Chbosky seminal novel ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’ In it the protagonist Charlie writes letters to a friend,
[And this is a visual medium so we are going to look at scenes from the film but I am SPECIFICALLY talking about the novel here] The first letter begins: And that is how Charlie begins to tell us his story…as a friend. At the end of the book…I’m just gonna paraphrase a little here, but he says: That’s what this moment in Fleabag makes me think of. The moment when we know that this isn’t a sad story. We know that we helped her through a hard time and maybe she helped us. And now we, all we Fleabag’s in the world, have been given a little encouragement to go out into the world…and fuck it up beautifully. Just like she does. [Glass shattering] [Song ends] Hello friends, I just bastardized to John Waters quote Oh how fun. Also I referenced ‘Russian
Doll’ a lot? Largely because of the female creators and fucked-up protagonists who
are witty and acerbic and stuff? Basically I would love to see Nadia and
Fleabag interact, I feel like both shows are really of a piece in a strange way. I
do want to check out ‘Crashing’ at some point and I am very very excited to see
what a Bond movie written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge And I have started writing the script for a video on Rogue One so… Look forward to that and yeah… Thank you all for watching and see you in the next one.

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