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Fleabag Second Series (aka Season Two)

Keith Higgons

Posted on April 2, 2019 16:19

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag returns.

A few years ago, I made the bold claim that Phoebe Waller Bridge and her show Fleabag would change television. I wasn’t entirely wrong. While the first series of Fleabag (Brits call seasons “series”) on Amazon Prime failed to create a groundswell, Hollywood took notice. Waller-Bridge landed roles in Goodbye Christopher Robin and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Additionally, she wrote and produced the highly acclaimed Killing Eve, garnering herself an Emmy nod for writing and helping Sandra Oh win Golden Globe and SAG Awards.

Given the trajectory of her career, I feared that Fleabag may end up a one off. Luckily, I was wrong. Waller-Bridge is currently staging Fleabag as a one woman show at the SoHo Playhouse in New York City through April 14 and the second series of the show is currently airing on the BBC. While I haven't seen the stage show, I have seen five episodes of series two.

The second season of Fleabag finds Fleabag (Waller-Bridge) adulting. Sort of. After the bedlam of the first series, it’s much welcomed. But calamity always awaits.

The primary conceit of the show, breaking the fourth wall, remains intact and is still used just as deftly, allowing us to share in Fleabag’s cheeky asides and internal thoughts.  

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's writing in Fleabag is as excellent and incisive as you would expect. But what heightens the show is the acting. In series two, the stellar crew returns, including Sian Clifford as her sister Claire, Brett Gelman as her morally deficient brother-in-law and Academy Award Winner Olivia Coleman as Fleabag’s hyper-sexualized artist stepmother.

However, the standout here is Andrew Scott as “The Priest” who is confounding and wildly atypical . . . and nothing short of fantastic! Scott’s priest is a normal man whose job just happens to be Catholic priest. It’s a job he loves and takes seriously but he does struggle with the piety of a priest.

At the end of episode three, he calls Fleabag out and asks her where she goes when she turns her head to break the fourth wall to chat with us viewers, her friends. She’s gobsmacked. It’s a very well-played moment. There are hints of this in the previous episodes, but it’s at this moment that he reveals that he may be the only one, besides us, who sees her for who she is.   

In America, guns, blood and violence on television can be tolerated. Swearing, sex or religious satire? Not so much. We seem to view religious leaders, specifically Catholic priests, as either chaste or deviant. Certainly not as human. Traditional networks, probably even cable, would've passed on something this incendiary, but thanks to streaming services, this second series of Fleabag has a home on Amazon Prime Video.

I’m still not convinced Hollywood fully recognizes the talent of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. However, I do. And you should.

Celebrate the return of Fleabag and if you haven't seen it, you should. 

Keith Higgons

Posted on April 2, 2019 16:19

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Luke Jennings says the Fleabag writer was the perfect person to bring his Villanelle books to TV.

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