Witty, Messy, Yet Remarkably Profound: Fleabag

By Faith Gonia

In her heart-wrenching yet outstandingly witty television series, Fleabag, creator, writer, and lead actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge tells the story of a grief-stricken woman who maintains her hilarious sarcasm, even as she braves a world that seems to show no mercy. Known only by the unspoken title of Fleabag, our nameless, messy protagonist fights with complicated grief, manifesting itself as relentless guilt — a battle she often fears she is losing. 

While she stumbles through rendezvous with various love-interests, along with frequent moments of pure anguish, Fleabag breaks television’s fourth wall, regularly making eye contact with and speaking to the audience. Obliging viewers to accompany the heroine in oftentimes uncomfortable, distressing, and quite frankly, private moments, Fleabag’s live narration allows for the audience to develop a personal connection to her character. Growing to know and understand her, viewers cringe, laugh, and cry with Fleabag, in a way that is unique only to this series. 

Through swift, slowly lengthening flashbacks to pre-grief Fleabag, the audience gradually discovers the roots of her mourning. At a climactic reveal of the source of her guilt, Fleabag’s hysterical distress leaves viewers to question who her fourth wall-breaking has truly been addressed to — themselves or a departed character? Woven with heavy symbolism and powerful themes, Fleabag sustains phenomenal humor to effectively explore grief in a contemporary approach, leaving a sincere impact on any individual who chooses to watch.