“Women are born with pain built in. It’s our physical destiny – 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 just so they can feel guilty about things, which is something we do very well on our own. And then they create wars so they can feel things and touch each other and when there aren’t any wars they can play rugby.
“We have it all going on in here inside, we have pain on a cycle for years and years and years and then just when you feel you are making peace with it all, what happens? The menopause comes, the fucking menopause comes, and it is the most wonderful fucking thing in the world. And yes, your entire pelvic floor crumbles and you get fucking hot and no one cares, but then you’re free, no longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person… in business.”
The moment I heard Kristin Scott Thomas (in a memorable cameo) say these lines in the third episode of the second season of Fleabag, I wanted to memorise them and then unleash them on an unsuspecting someone. Then I realised I am unfortunately not a woman and worse, I haven’t hit menopause. And while that’s still not a problem in saying these absolutely magical lines, I will perhaps never be able to say them with the kind of manic force and passion that Thomas does.
The way Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays Fleabag reminds you of the artistry of the great silent comedians with those toothy wry grins hitting the spot every time.
Maybe because I haven’t felt it. Then again they are written by someone who’s all of 33 herself and unlikely to have gone through “the most wonderful fucking thing in the world”. And it is here you realise, one more time, the genius of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The woman who not only created, wrote and starred in and as Fleabag, but also gave us Killing Eve and also recently joined the writing team of the next James Bond film, is arguably the most incredible young talent “in (TV) business” out there.
The first season of Fleabag was three years back but it’s still so fresh in the telly memory bag. All of six episodes tailing this 30-something Londoner, Fleabag (Waller-Bridge) who goes through her extremely challenging life by joking about it to us. Yes, she breaks the fourth wall every couple of minutes, whether it’s in the middle of a torrid sex session or while trying desperately not to speak at a silent retreat.
The new season, also comprising six episodes, continues with the same speaking-to-the-camera format and all the recurring trouble in Fleabag’s life return with renewed energy. There’s the father (Bill Paterson) who now struggles to complete his lines but manages to disrupt the carefully concocted flow of words from his bride-to-be (Olivia Coleman in supreme form, as always). The sister, Claire (Sian Clifford), who despite being Fleabag’s only friend had chosen to believe her scumbag of a husband Martin (the ever-despicable Brett Gelman) but the muck surfaces in this second season in all its ugliness.
The last shot is a deeply satisfying finishing line (read: wave) for a deeply satisfying show which will always be remembered for its 12 precious episodes
As she confesses to a therapist, Fleabag “had spent most of her adult life using sex to deflect from the screaming void inside her empty heart” – we’ve seen that in almost every episode in the first season – but she has stopped doing that. But of all people in the world she now wants to jump into bed with a Catholic priest (Andrew Scott)! “So, you want to fuck God?” the therapist asks. “Can you fuck God?” Fleabag asks back. Well, there you have the divine third angle in the love triangle of the season.
One of the things you pick up as a screenwriter scripting fiction in this millennium is to write short scenes. You enter late into a scene and exit early. Three to four minutes is considered a long scene. Waller-Bridge turns this theory on its head and writes one single long scene – punctuated with smoke and loo breaks, some forced, some natural – for the first episode of the second season. That brilliantly conceived, spectacularly written dinner scene with all the main characters of the show is the ultimate testimony of this woman’s mastery over the medium.
The way Waller-Bridge continuously manages to mix tragedy and comedy in line after line, sprinkling in heavy doses of sarcasm and burning wit, is seen to be believed. I mean she’s served alcoholism, pedophilia and miscarriage on the table and you can’t stop laughing at the way she’s cooked them. Also, the way she plays Fleabag reminds you of the artistry of the great silent comedians with those toothy wry grins hitting the spot every time.
Fleabag is some kind of a miracle in motion. Don’t miss it
There won’t be a third season of Fleabag which Waller-Bridge had hinted at before and one of the cast members confirmed recently. Once you watch this new season, you know why. Because there isn’t the need for one. Can’t spoil it for you by revealing the last shot but let’s just say it is a deeply satisfying finishing line (read: wave) for a deeply satisfying show which will always be remembered for its 12 precious episodes.
Recently, I wrote about how Barry is the best show playing on TV right now. Sorry, I’ll have to strike that now. Fleabag is some kind of a miracle in motion. Don’t miss it.