Fleabag may be the most harrowing and hilarious series from across the Pond in years, a totally unique show which deftly weds grief & comedy, to sparkling effect.
Well, folks, Amazon has done it again in creating yet another original series whose vision and subject matter is changing the landscape of small-screen entertainment. Fleabag is a prime example of this ethos, written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Broadchurch fame) as a young-ish Londoner whose outrageous sexual exploits mask a deep anguish stemming from personal tragedy. Season 1 is divided into six 30-minute episodes which are so refreshingly sharp and irreverent that they virtually fly by in a single screening.
Waller-Bridge plays the eponymous Fleabag (in fact her own family nickname), a sexually adventurous yet deeply disconnected person whose deadpan takes on the people and situations in her world make her a hilarious tour guide of her weird and wild life. The action is shot exclusively through the lens of Fleabag’s point of view, interspersed with frequent breaks of ‘the fourth wall’ in which she speaks directly to the audience, or often mugs to the camera what her character is thinking. This conceit (think John Cusack in High Fidelity; Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; and more recently Kevin Spacey in House of Cards) immediately seals our allegiance to Fleabag, which in turn makes her troubling secret and the burden she carries with her everywhere, that much more shattering when finally revealed. Up until that sobering moment, though, Fleabag’s misadventures in love, her strained sisterly bond, her antics with best friend Boo, and the tense relationship with her father and devious stepmother all combine to paint such a fractured and funny life that you won’t be able to take your eyes away from her.
Fleabag got its start as a one-woman play for which Waller-Bridge won an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, as well as the Critics’ Circle and Off-West End Awards for most promising playwright, and a special commendation from the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. And as is the case in countless roles performed by the writers themselves, Phoebe Waller-Bridge so embodies the character of Fleabag that it’s impossible to imagine any other actor bringing the same razor-sharp intelligence and pathos to the role. Or to imagine a more compelling case for friendship among women, even the most cynical and damaged among them.
Fleabag is presently streaming on Amazon.
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YouTube Trailer Courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Uv6cb9YRs