The show you need to be watching right now is Fleabag. Both seasons. On Amazon Prime, binge it, space it out, whatever you need to do, but make sure this gem of a TV series is slotted in your queue.
Why? The writing. It’s snappy and realistic and hilarious and charming and engaging and I can go on but I don’t want to overload you with synonyms of “fantastic.”
Because that’s what Fleabag is, a nutshell. Fan-fucking-tastic, from the Season 1 pilot to 2018’s season 2 finale, which some have been saying could be the series finale.
From writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who you might know as the brains behind serial-killer dramedy Killing Eve, Fleabag follows a British café owner through her 30-something London lifestyle, complete with tense relationships with a sister and dad, unfulfilling romantic partners, misogynistic weirdos and guilt. Lots of that.
As much as I applaud the casting and overall acting talent on screen (hat-tip to Olivia Colman for being brilliant as always), PB’s scripts elevate this show beyond most of the bland fare clogging our screens these days. The conversations between characters feel natural, never forced, lulling you into Fleabag’s world as soon as you hit that 10 minute mark in episode 1.
Then there are the twists and rug burns the characters endure, more so in season 2 than 1, and the stories shatter your expectations of how this or that plot thread will unravel. It’s as if Waller-Bridge has been so damn bored by television’s cliché approaches to relationships, she wanted to flip some tables and make something unlike anything done before.
One such tool is giving the main character, played by Waller-Bridge, the ability to break the fourth wall and address the audience in these snarky asides that often mirror what you’re thinking about the scene as well. It’s the kind of device that could backfire if the direct-to-camera commentary falls flat; but the writing’s quality never wavers and always stays consistently strong, even though more expositional scenes.
Lately, I’ve been tracking who writes my favourite shows, such as Atlanta, Barry, Crashing, Preacher (wow, I really like shows with one-word titles). I never used to do that, and for some reason preferred to note which actors guest-starred in a random scene. Now, thanks to learning more about the TV writing process through a few words, I try to look deeper into the writing of a favourite show – it can crackle off the screen or fizzle quick, no matter which A-list actors try to make the best of the D-minus lines.
And Fleabag, which deserves all the awards and all the love, is snagging As across the board, gold stars everywhere.
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