Fleabag: Full season discussion
September 24, 2016 9:48 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

A London-based woman tries to cope with life in a big city while coming to terms with a tragedy.

Episode summaries for your convenience courtesy of IMDB.

Pilot: Angry, pervy, outrageous and hilarious Fleabag arrives with a bang, as she spins through the city grasping at anyone and anything that might keep her head above water.

Episode 2: Haunted by memories of her dead best friend, dumped by her emotionally fragile boyfriend, and now desperately trying to sell the stolen statue to Claire's husband Martin - a man who would like to be unfaithful with her - Fleabag attempts to rekindle romantic fires with the man who prefers a rear entry to distract her from the mayhem of her life.

Episode 3: Fleabag helps her inappropriate brother-in-law buy a present for Claire, who is organizing her own surprise birthday party. On the hunt for a date, Fleabag reconnects with a toothy friend.

Episode 4: Fleabag and her sister Claire reluctantly visit a female-only, silent retreat, courtesy of their father. Their enforced silence is interrupted by an unusual neighboring weekend workshop, explosive secrets coming to light, and a surprising connection with an old acquaintance.

Episode 5: On the anniversary of their mother's dearth Claire and Fleabag attend a celebratory dinner at Dad's but Godmother is there, organizing things and announcing her forthcoming 'sexhibition', based on her love life with Dad, as well as suggesting they may be selling up to live in France. The sisters are oddly united as Claire declines to return the stolen statue and tells Fleabag she is leaving Martin for the job in Finland.

Episode 6: Fleabag and the handsome rear entry lad attend Godmother's sexhibition, where Fleabag is treated as staff and is annoyed when Godmother turns the theft of the statue into a positive. Dumped by her escort and running into Harry with a new girlfriend she is dismayed to find Claire solid with Martin and not going to Finland after all but worse is to come when Claire delivers a damning home truth. Fortunately there is still one person who is prepared to help her turn her café - and her life - around.
posted by bleep (18 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was kind of surprised to find out that Fleabag was the main character's name because I don't think anybody actually addresses her as anything throughout. Maybe I missed it?

After I watched the whole series I went back to the first episode and what struck me was how incredibly angry Claire was the first time we see her. I guess I assumed we'd find out why she was that mad but I don't think we did? Is she that mad to have a sister who's a pretty mild level fuckup? Is she that mad that about what happened to Boo? I mean, it was a terrible thing that she did but why continue to be that angry and not just bail? I feel bad that everyone in her family seems to hate her (and that doesn't seem like a recent change) but I didn't feel like I connected with the character or anyone else in the show.
posted by bleep at 9:53 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've only yet watched the first two episodes, so I won't read this thread until I've finished the show, but I do want to say that I laughed and laughed and laughed at the opener of the second episode with the people and the music on the subway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:37 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Bleep: I think it's meant to be an outer reflection of his angry she is with herself. Like how resting bitch face is supposed to be associated with anxiety.

We only find out why she's so hard on herself at the end of the series.
posted by pharm at 1:55 AM on September 25, 2016


(In reply to dortmunder’s comment in the post on the blue.)

I just watched the last episode, and I have a question. Is it really possible that her entire family knew the twist the whole time, and no one had the courage to pull her aside and ask, "there are a lot of people in the world you can fuck. Why did you pick your best friend's boyfriend ?" Are the English so conflict averse? I feel bad for laughing at any of the stuff that came before.

I cannot imagine asking that question of someone grieving over the death of their best friend dortmunder, not unless they wanted to talk about it. How could it possibly be helpful otherwise? “Here, let me rub your nose in your part in your best friend's probable suicide” is how it’s going to come across.
posted by pharm at 2:14 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I cannot imagine asking that question of someone grieving over the death of their best friend dortmunder, not unless they wanted to talk about it. How could it possibly be helpful otherwise? “Here, let me rub your nose in your part in your best friend's probable suicide” is how it’s going to come across.

So, the best way to deal with the fact that someone you care about is caught in a downward spiral and has been making horrible decisions is to ignore it?
posted by dortmunder at 7:34 AM on September 25, 2016


I’m sure you could come up with a suitable ask.me question to poll the me.fi audience :)
posted by pharm at 8:09 AM on September 25, 2016


I loved this show. The first episode, I thought they were all such horrible people but I also thought it was hilariously funny, in the same groove as Catastrophe. The passive-aggressive behaviour is so very English, hidden behind that veneer of politeness. And it was also believable that nobod ytalked to Fleabag about her depression. I know families exactly like that where We Don't Talk About Those Sorts of Things.
posted by essexjan at 10:16 AM on September 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


The passive aggressive thing - it's kind of central to the whole story. She obviously feels guilty but is unwilling to examine her guilt. It's more damaging the way the revelation was imparted (BiL making a move, her reveal is not believed because of what she had previously done creating the whole situation in the first place).

What I didn't get was how her family knew/found out about her cheating on best friend Boo?

I was more than ok with the fourth wall breakages. It can be done in really annoying ways, but it worked very well here; legacy of it's original format of being a play?

Another thing that didn't quite click for me was what the men's retreat was about? Obviously, it's anger management/sexism therapy but what was with the men yelling at the blow up dolls? Is this something that men do? Like, impulsively yell sexist insults at women? Are they vocalizing it to - what? Or are they supposed to normally yell at women and that's why they're (forced to be?) at the retreat?

Enjoyed Phoebe Waller-Bridge's performance, went about looking for her other works - ended up finding out about Man Up where she has a relatively small role starring Lake Bell with Simon Pegg being a mid/late 40's male love interest (relevant to the plot).

If anyone liked Brett Gelman's portrayal of the inappropriate Martin - he's much better in essentially the same role in Another Period which is waaay better than it deserves to be (no disparagement, just that it completely blew away my expectations).
posted by porpoise at 11:05 AM on September 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I placed the men's retreat at roughly the same level of realism as the people wincing on the subway train--evidence that we're viewing the world with Fleabag as our lens. But it made such a great foil to the women's retreat: men's weekend = yelling "slag" at blow-up dolls; women's weekend = silent cleaning.

Love, love, loved the show.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 8:11 PM on September 25, 2016 [13 favorites]


The men's retreat is a commentary on gendered expectations about how to get away from it all, where women are supposed to bask in silent cleaning while men are allowed a safe space to rage at effigies of women they secretly hate and resent. Were either of the retreats played completely straight they would come off as over the top, but Fleabag's genuine kinship with her banker saves it from that caricature.

Fleabag's soliloquy to the banker in the last scene of the series: do all women feel this way, that when they become unfuckable their lives become meaningless? It's grim, but I've certainly experienced brief flashes of similar thinking, particularly since reaching the invisibility of middle-age.

Overall, love this show and will probably rewatch it again very soon.
posted by scantee at 8:17 AM on September 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


do all women feel this way, that when they become unfuckable their lives become meaningless?

I don’t know, but I think it’s a natural human thing to want to feel valued by those around us. You can see the ease with which some people might let this line of thinking slide into “if I’m sexually attractive then I am valued”, which leads to the inevitable corollary that once you’re not sexually attractive any more then clearly you’re valueless.

One of the tragedies of Fleabag is that the character has fallen head first into this trap I think: constantly seeking validation via sex whilst all the time knowing at the back of her mind that that easy hit of instant gratification is going to get harder & harder as she gets older.
posted by pharm at 9:18 AM on September 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


And I guess that the only (and probably the first) person she knew who gave her healthy non-sexual validation is now dead because of her.
posted by bleep at 10:26 AM on September 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


I finally watched the final four episodes this evening. I posted my initial thoughts in the thread on the blue, but, gosh, I enjoyed this so much and found that it was a much more affecting experience than I expected.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:52 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Have just watched this over two nights and absolutely loved it. There's so much in Fleabag that could leave me cold (comedy of embarrassment; fourth wall breaking etc) but it really hit the spot for me. I sorta hope they don't make a second series, as this felt complete and right. It's great to return to places, but there's a greater pleasure for me in something new, and I'd much rather see the next thing from Phoebe Waller-Bridge than putting Fleabag through another journey in season 2.

Also as a big fan of the smirk + raised eyebrow, P W-B has slotted straight into my top 3 (Sean Connery and Natalie Dormer if I'm actually making that a thing).

Also and also - the acting is uniformly excellent, but Bill Paterson gives a real masterclass in the last two episodes of wringing the most out of a tight emotional range and he seems to be the one person who doesn't get much of a shout out. However, giving a shout out to a man does feel weird in such an overtly female programme. It's funny seeing critics thrash around for comparisons (Girls?, Bridget Jones?) that emphasises how rare it still is to see something like this.

It's a programme I'm reluctant to recommend to friends as if they don't get it, it could really annoy me. (In a way where I couldn't careless if somebody dislikes, say, Vice Principals).
posted by Hartster at 4:01 PM on September 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Also as a big fan of the smirk + raised eyebrow

!!
posted by porpoise at 8:18 PM on September 29, 2016


This was terrific. So much to like: the slow-drip awfulness of Olivia Colman's step/godmother; the love/hate sister relationship; Bill Paterson's buttoned-off sadness; Brett Gelman's ineffable weirdness; and most of all, the writing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:55 AM on December 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


I happened to come across it in an end-of-year AV Club article and just binge-watched this entire thing. I was hooked from the sucker-punch in the first episode. Even watching it now knowing what's coming makes me dissolve into helpless cackles. And the last episode is just devastating.

> > Fleabag's soliloquy to the banker in the last scene of the series: do all women feel this way, that when they become unfuckable their lives become meaningless? It's grim, but I've certainly experienced brief flashes of similar thinking, particularly since reaching the invisibility of middle-age.

> One of the tragedies of Fleabag is that the character has fallen head first into this trap I think: constantly seeking validation via sex whilst all the time knowing at the back of her mind that that easy hit of instant gratification is going to get harder & harder as she gets older.


It was uncomfortably recognizable for me as well. I'm a gay dude, not a woman, but this attitude also seems to be endemic to my people, which is perhaps part of why I found the show so relatable. (Also Waller-Bridge is a treasure as a writer and actor.) It's also not just validation that she's after, I think, though that's certainly a big part of it: there's a great funny/heartbreaking line essentially about how, paraphrasing, she masturbates when she's bored... or lonely, or sad, or happy, or etc. Sexuality, as well as her humor, becomes this all-consuming way of soothing negative emotions and accentuating positive ones. And given what she's dealing with, there's a lot to soothe: anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, and the pain of losing relationships with people she loves -- to cancer, suicide, a slimy brother-in-law, and Olivia Colman's gloriously hateable artsy sociopath.

The show is great in other ways also. I thought one review made a really good point that the show had sitcom tropes (like the wacky best friend, the terrible step-mom, etc.) but then played them out in extremely realistic, non-sitcom ways where actions have permanent consequences.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:53 PM on December 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


Series 1 will be available to watch on iPlayer from 16 December. Not sure I can bear another heart wringing at Christmas but will give it a go because the writing and acting is just so magnificent.
posted by humph at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2017


« Older Mob Psycho 100: An Invitation ...   |  Mob Psycho 100: Idiots Only Ev... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster