Fleabag - A daring and original take on Mediocrity in Life
We are living in strange times now. A pandemic urges us to stay in our homes to keep ourselves safe and minimize contact with other people. But ironically, even that now feels suffocating and unnerving. Existentialism is something that we occasionally ponder about, more so now. For some, it’s a constant thought that makes them fall into deep wells of insecurities and failures in life. It’s not the best of feelings to experience. But in hindsight, it always leads to revelatory thoughts and changes in your mind.
It’s a tough feeling to express and to relive, in life and likewise in art and literature. We seldom enjoy seeing hardships on films and tv unless it ends on a really happy uplifting note. Bollywood has overworked on that formula for ages, using songs and situations to mold a happy ending and to the delight of people. It gives them a break from their own lives and allows them to revel in otherworldly fantasies. (Superhero movies. Ahem!) So when people do end up manifesting this experience into art, it either doesn’t work or doesn’t reach the common audience.
A New Friend
Fleabag – created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, moonwalks on that tightrope with grace and ends up being one of the finest tv-shows I’ve ever seen. Phoebe plays a dry-witted woman who’s trying to survive her messed up life while failing to cope with a tragedy. She talks to us about her life by breaking the fourth wall directly. It seems as if to her, we’re already her best friend. It’s weird and exploitative at first, but pretty soon we are also complicit in her jibes and humor. Comedy is the secret ingredient here. She whips up offensive jokes with an all-knowing smile on her face and looks at us with notoriety brimming in her eyes.
She is a lot of fun!
A reflection of your insecurities
You are her coping mechanism. By talking to you, she’s shelving away thoughts about her failures as a person. Sex and Humour are a distraction to keep her mind aloof from her grief of losing Boo. At points, you get very uncomfortable. You see yourself in her and the hours you have spent in denial and desperation. The insults and heavy-handedness of people to her feel like they’re attacks to you as well. She’s trying to keep up a farce, you know that now ..yet you’re rooting for her. She’s your new best friend.
The Laugh of Despair in Fleabag
This show finds that sweet spot between dark humor and sadness like the protagonist herself. This can be jarring at times, the juxtaposition of these two elements. Although, HBO’s Barry and Prime’s Indian shows Afsos and Pushpavalli were some shows that cleverly utilized this. It’s no wonder that comedians were involved in writing all of these shows. Fleabag’s smart editing by Gary Dollner also adds to the hilarity of the show along with the eccentric (anti-) title sequence.
Why should you watch Fleabag?
The show brings you to tears with sadness and laughter. Her eyes don’t meet ours when she’s confronted with her past and mistakes. She awkwardly shies away from us, She looks down and away in guilt. My guts fill up with these all too familiar feelings of shame, alienation, and denial. I don’t look away though, I’m waiting for her to crack up a joke again.
She bares her furtive heart
She lashes out at herself and the world in front of another lost soul asking for some semblance of peace.
She breaks down.
You feel the pain and giddyness when she laughs again. You smile as well.
Fleabag tells you that it’s okay to feel terribly alone and confused at times. It’s human to make mistakes and start over again. She seems to have forgotten your existence for now, she’s smiling but to herself. It feels good though.
Wait, What was her name again?