Release Dates: 2016
Number of Episodes: 6
Fleabag is a British comedy series created and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In the show, Waller-Bridge portrays a 30-year-old woman in London who is sarcastic, has several strained relationships, and engages in lots of recreational sex. At first I thought this was going to be one of those “a person in their 20s sleeping around and having a wacky life, isn’t it so relatable” types of shows that I never find relatable. Thankfully, it is not like that at all.
Waller-Bridge’s character has sexual relationships with three different men over the course of the series, but they are negligible compared with her relationships with her family and friends which are the focus of the show. Her mother died three years earlier and her father (Bill Paterson) has been distant ever since, but does things like send her and her sister Claire (Sian Clifford) to feminist lectures and silent retreats. Things with her older sister are also not so good as Claire is much more serious and is married to her absolutely awful husband Martin (Brett Gelman). Her father is also romantically involved with their Godmother (Olivia Colman), far too soon after their mother’s death. Colman is an actor I always enjoy, but her portrayal of the absolute worst kind of pretentious, manipulative, and passive aggressive person is so good that I want to hate her. Finally, Waller-Bridge’s character feels grief and guilt over the recent death of her best friend and business partner Boo (Jenny Rainsford, who appears in flashbacks) who was hit by a car.
All the actors in this show are absolutely spectacular. Over the course of the series, their stories are woven into wacky adventures, and somewhere along the way, we the audience find ourselves caring deeply for these people even if they can be kind of awful. One of the features of the show is Phoebe Waller-Bridge frequently breaking the fourth wall to bring us into the situation with a wisecrack or look. This mannerism could be irritating in other hands but Waller-Bridge never fails to be funny, and she has the most expressive face. And after all the laughter, don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying at the end of the series because it’ll hit you in the feels.
By the way, it wasn’t until after I watched the entire series that I discovered that “Fleabag” is the name given to the main character! She’s never referred that way on screen, perhaps its meant to represent the way she thinks of herself at her most self-loathing.