Fleabag, named after the show’s protagonist, is a series about a woman who lives in London. She struggles to recover from her mother and her best friend’s deaths. We see Fleabag in popular media more and more because most people can relate to her story for many reasons. Fleabag’s story does have losses, sex, absurdity, and finding true self. And these are the things that almost everybody has to deal with.
Fleabag’s healing process is fascinating because it is closely related to questions of “who I am” and “what do I want from life,” answering them making people who they are. Fleabag is a woman who is striving to find what is emotionally best for her. She does this by encountering many people, both sexually and socially. Furthermore, she develops a unique connection with the viewers. Thus, it enables her to be who she is and heals her wounds.
In Fleabag’s story, one of the crucial points in her city of residence in London, a cosmopolitan city. This city enables one to encounter many people, even in an hour, through an active social life. Cosmopolitanism serves as an opportunity to find many people, such as Fleabag herself, for one-night stands. Thus, having in mind that sex is an essential tool to find herself or escape from her problems (as Fleabag is saying in the series, too). Regarding this, being a cosmopolitan is one of the cornerstones of her story.
The other important point in Fleabag’s story is that she tries to recover from her losses. In the story, we see a missing mother whose place is attempted to be filled by a stepmother. The stepmother cannot fill that hole since a mutual relation between her and Fleabag does not develop.
Fleabag lost her mother to breast cancer. However, her omnipresent through breast cancer checks, the sculpture that evil stepmother did, and in Fleabag herself (there are references throughout the show about how she looks and behaves like her mother). The similarities between Fleabag and her dead mother; and the mother’s appearances are crucial because they reflect what Fleabag wants to become or how her true self is in a definite sense.
Innovative Techniques of Story Telling: Fleabag’s Relation to the Spectator
Another point that is very important and worth mentioning is how Fleabag connects with the audience. Fleabag often breaks the 4th wall to communicate with the viewers. By doing that, she includes viewers in the story, and thus, she becomes not alone in her life. In an alternative explanation, she is doing that to use viewers as an escape mechanism or defense mechanism from what she has been through. Moreover, because she does not have any friends anymore, she satisfies her need to make her voice heard by telling viewers what she is getting through.
The other thing about the 4th wall and the interlocutor is that Fleabag is generally speaking with women. Also, she supposes to be listened by women. We see that this kind of relationship is essential to her.
Furthermore, Fleabag’s loss of her best friend, Boo, also has some relation to her connection to the viewer. This death is a turning point in Fleabag’s life and makes life for Fleabag hard to handle. The viewers could see that Boo was there whenever Fleabag feels dreadful. After Boo is gone, she feels lost. She dreams of the days that she and her best friend were together.
Her story in the series starts after her best friend’s death. Maybe because of this, she needs to connect with the viewers or, in other words, fill her void of boredom and worry about Boo’s death. It is evident in the scenes with the therapist. When the therapist asks whether Fleabag has or not someone to talk to, she looks at the camera, winks at the viewers, and says: “Yeah.” It may give the viewer the sense that the viewer is connecting and bonding with her psychologically, and Fleabag gets support and fills her absence of best friend with the viewers.
Fleabag’s Connection to Her Real Self
In the series, we see Fleabag as the only authority who connects with the viewer, is the main character, and is an atheist. There is no god authority that Fleabag shares her power, and thereby, she is the only authority in the show. Yet, after meeting with the priest, who is the symbol of religion, another authority figure is God. We see this effect when the priest says, “Where did you just go?” after Fleabag turns to the camera. It is one of the most apparent moments when Fleabag’s defense and authority mechanisms become damaged: she cannot flee from the real self or the truth. She has to stay in what she is going through. Hence, she may be closer to what she truly is.
In Fleabag, the viewers see that she finds answers to what purpose she has in the process as she, in a very cosmopolitan way, encounters different people – especially the priest. Before meeting with the priest, we see she uses the camera and the viewer as an escape mechanism from what she has been through. However, after meeting him, there is an interference of her escape by the priest saying, “Where did you just go?” Hence her desire to escape from so-called reality is harmed, but the finding of her true self, which is her desire, has strengthened.
Written by Ömer DEMIR
Gilroy-Ware, M. (2017). Filling the void: Emotion, capitalism, and social media. Duncan: Baird Publisher
1: Phoebe Waller-Bridge from the second season of Fleabag, accessed at nytimes.com
2: An instance from “Fleabag” by Phoebe-Waller Bridge, accessed at buzzfeed.com
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