Things are not really going according to plan in Fleabag’s (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) life. The cafe she opened with her best friend, Boo (Jenny Rainsford) is tanking since Boo died, she can’t get a loan, she’s having trouble connecting with her sister, Claire (Sian Clifford) and father (Bill Paterson) and she hates her Godmother (Olivia Coleman) – who has shacked up with her dad – with a fiery passion.
Her usual coping techniques of breaking up and making up with her boyfriend, Harry (Hugh Skinner), sleeping around, drinking too much and provoking Claire aren’t helping this time, which makes her wonder… what is the point of everything, really?
It’s kind of hard to describe Fleabag. It is essentially a comedy series about a woman who finds herself in a series of bizarre situations – wanking to Obama speeches, going to a sexhibition that features her father’s penis, visiting a retreat where men yell at sex dolls that represent the women in their lives, sending pictures of her undercarriage as bait to potential suitors… all of this is very funny as is the amazingly British passive aggressive way that her family members all deal with each other. It’s further enhanced by Fleabag’s little insights to camera and her relateable insecurities.
On the other hand it is so much more. It is a study of people isolated by grief, both from themselves and each other. It shows how failing to engage with loss eats us from the inside. Everyone in the show is struggling with unresolved loss, which manifests itself in their behaviour. Finding out what happened to Boo is like a gut punch.
Waller-Bridge is amazing as Fleabag. Although Fleabag attempts to portray a kind of happy-go-lucky persona it is always abundantly obvious that she is deeply unhappy and on the brink of losing it. Clifford is excellent as the highly strung Claire. Although Claire drives Fleabag mad and she could come across as mean, Clifford manages to make her sympathetic and rounded. Of course Olivia Colman is always pure magic. She plays the Godmother as a cheerful, sweet, earthy hippy but there is an undercurrent of jealous rage that simmers below the surface.
It’s clever, thoughtful comedy that gets under your skin and makes you wonder about the characters and your own life. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next series.