Fleabag and Themes of Change

Fleabag. IMDb. 14 Feb 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm2379811840

As an exhausted senior, I constantly think and dream of change: moving to a new city, starting a new job, meeting new people—there are so many exciting moments and experiences ahead. But of course, change isn’t exclusive to any one point in time. Life is defined by continuous change and is often comprised of ones that you can’t anticipate.

I was recently introduced to a show that well captures the constant change that characterizes life: Fleabag. It’s about a woman referred to as Fleabag (yes, Fleabag) navigating life after loss and in between a whole lot else. The circumstances of her life and relationships are always changing in tragically hilarious ways. She owns a cafe, has a carousel of men at her disposal, and navigates intense family relationships. Fleabag’s dry, dark sense of humor clocks the otherwise tragic narrative and disguises it as a very clever comedy. The show is as painful and awkward as life itself.


Fleabag. IMDb. 14 Feb 2020, top left: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm107255041; top right: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm340205824; bottom center: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm2237764865

What makes Fleabag so unique is that not only do we see the circumstances in Fleabag’s life changing, but we also see how they influence her interactions with others in her life. One of my favorite dynamics is between Fleabag and her sister Claire, because it’s probably the most erratic on the show. A self-described “cold” woman, Claire is certainly an opposite of—and foil for—Fleabag. She’s a high-powered international lawyer with great acclaim, an impressive office, and a recent promotion. To Claire’s dismay, however, she still manages to have a life that’s just as messy and crazy as her sister’s. This just goes to show that no matter how solid a hold you think you have on the course of your life, there will always be something beyond your grasp.

Fleabag. IMDb. 14 Feb 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm2446920704

A key part of the show’s narrative is Fleabag’s use of asides within the story. When she breaks the fourth wall to make comments to viewers and/or herself is often when we see the most vulnerable and witty side of her. I believe there’s a lesson there; it’s important to contextualize the immediate events of your life into the the main overriding themes of your life: your relationships, your goals, and your fears. And of course, the main lesson from Fleabag is that, even when you wish to keep things constant, there will always be something unexpected around the corner, whether you like it or not.

Fleabag. IMDb. 14 Feb 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm3194000641

Even if we can’t anticipate change, we can choose to look at it in different ways. Fleabag chooses to look at change with a self-deprecating humor, which is what makes the story so tragically hilarious. Even if she doesn’t deal with pain in the best way, there’s definitely value in being able to smirk in the face of adversity.

Moir, Jan. “The saddest bit of Fleabag’s finale? Having to say goodbye…JAN MOIR’s view of the final instalment of series two from the sofa.” The Daily Mail. 8 April 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6900941/JAN-MOIR-saddest-bit-Fleabags-finale-Having-say-goodbye.html

Note that this show is only for mature audiences, as it contains a lot of sexual content. There are conflicting reports on whether or not there will be a third season, but creator & lead actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge seems ready to leave Fleabag behind in pursuit of other creative ventures.

Fleabag. IMDb. 14 Feb 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5687612/mediaviewer/rm157324545

Waller-Bridge’s self-deprecating humor and wit form part of a great tradition in British comedy, and there are many films and shows in the Media Services collection emblematic of that same classic British comic style. The entire original British series The Office, on which the American version is based, is available for check-out, as is another dry British series, Absolutely Fabulous, which follows a group of friends having a good time and making bad decisions. Be sure to ask our Media Services staff for these titles upon your next visit! LA

Leah Ashebir is a senior majoring in Finance at Kelley. She enjoys watching Katherine Hepburn movies and the 2000s TV series Smallville in her spare time.