We finally watched Fleabag. I say “finally” like I didn’t hear about it for the first time only a few weeks ago, and like I didn’t just figure out what it was–a British TV series starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge–last Friday. It took me a minute to get around to watching it because every time I saw it mentioned on social media or heard my husband say that someone had recommended it, I developed Memento-style short-term memory loss and immediately forgot all about it. Conversations about it went something like this.
Me: So, _________ recommended this show on Amazon, I think it’s called Fleabag?
Husband: Yeah, I know. We talked about it last week.
Me: We did? I’ve never heard of it before.
Husband: Yeah. It’s one of the shows the cashier at Trader Joe’s recommended. He said it’s great. Remember?
Me: No. What’s it’s about?
Husband: It’s a British comedy.
Me [groaning loudly]: Ohhhhh, never mind.
I say “Ohhhhh, never mind” like I historically haven’t loved them, like the UK Office wasn’t my gateway drug into the golden age of television just like everyone else in my generation, like I wasn’t obsessed with shows like Fresh Meat and Pulling and Gavin & Stacey and even, briefly, a pretty bad show about teen parents called Pramface, like the first few episodes of Breeders didn’t absolutely delight me as recently a few months ago.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m pretty bad with accents. I’m embarrassed to admit it, because I’m afraid it’s a trait that carries whiff of ethnocentrism or at least lack of sophistication, and when I go on to explain that it’s just hard for me to follow a show or a movie where most of the dialogue is spoken in heavily accented English, I feel lazy and selfish and like I should just try harder and be better, goddamnit! I don’t mind watching shows with closed-captioning. In fact, I prefer it, because I’m also pretty bad with rapid-speed dialogue and hushed voices and lots of background noise. Maybe I just have poor hearing? I tend to forget that closed-captioning/subtitles are an option, though.
Here’s the other thing. Without knowing anything about it, I assumed Fleabag was about a man. I think it was a quick association of the word “fleabag” with “dirtbag” and another quick leap to all the raunchy comedies out there about shitty dude and while it’s true that I’ve known and loved these comedies and the men who make them over the years, I don’t need or want to watch another show about a shitty dude. I don’t even want to watch a another show about a decent dude. I definitely don’t want to watch anything with a redemption narrative: shitty dude has realizations, tries to become decent dude, starts treating women like they have value instead of like garbage but ultimately still sees them as objects.
Back to last Friday. Just as I was groaning away the prospect of struggling through a British comedy about a dude, husband pulled up the show so we could watch a trailer and I didn’t need to see anything more than Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s mascara streaked face before I changed my mind.
Me: We’re watching this.
I’m very interested in female dirtbags, though, in women with unpleasant and irredeemable characteristics. I like women who are a little gross.
We finished the series in four days. It’s really short, but also really wonderful. Now that I’m finished, all I want to do is talk about it with girlfriends, but moms’ night out isn’t happening anymore, so I’m taking to the internet. Mostly, I have questions.
THE REST OF THIS POST IS ALL SPOILERS
Here are my questions:
- What is Fleabag’s name?
- What is Fleabag’s mom’s name?
- Does anybody care about the Godmother’s name?
- What is the significance of the breaking of the fourth wall?
- Is Fleabag insane?
- Or is she just grieving?
- Was she like this before Boo died? Before her mom died?
- Why was the Priest able to see her breaking the fourth wall?
- Why is the Priest so sexy?
- So, is Claire a lawyer or what?
- How adorable are Claire and Klare?
- Will Jake be okay without Claire?
- Do we agree that the bassoon is a cry for help?
- Do other instruments fall into this category?
- Can a guinea pig bond with a hamster?
- Is Hillary’s cage too small?
- How will Fleabag process what happened to Boo?
- Has Fleabag made amends for what she did to Boo?
- Why aren’t there more shows featuring women with unkempt hair and bad makeup?
- Is there any hope for a future between the Fleabag and the Priest?
- What is the significance of the bus being cancelled at the end?
- Does Question 17 contain the answer to Question 16? (Please say no (I know you won’t.).)
- What’s up with the fox?
- The Priest definitely has an alcohol problem, right?
- Would it be very foolish for me to open up a cafe when the pandemic is over?
Look, I know the ending was perfect, and that resolving any of these questions would have diluted the artistry of the show as a whole, but I am who I am and I want what I want and who I am is a sad sappy sucker and what I want is closure. Also, a happy ending for the characters I love and just desserts for the characters I hate. At least Fleabag delivered on the latter in spades.
I do have one more question, which sort of undercuts the last paragraph, and it is this:
- How is it that a show can leave so many major issues unresolved and still feel so satisfying?
- Is it because that’s how life is?
That was two questions. Goddamnit. This is the last one, I swear.
- Will I resort to this Question/No Answer format for future posts?
Almost definitely. [Wink]