• Jennifer Barnick

Amazon’s Fleabag—Can We Love a Terrible Girl?


Photo Source: Amazon

Between cable, internet, and now an ever-increasing streaming world from Netflix to Amazon with Disney and Warner Brothers announcing that they too are entering the streaming arena it is getting a little complicated to watch television. I must admit (even though many of my friends had suggested a variety of shows from Amazon—including my husband) that I had ignored Amazon streaming. If I wasn’t watching cable, I was most likely watching YouTube, and when I wanted a Korean Drama (I am a super fan) or a documentary, I would hit Netflix. However, one night our cable went completely out excepting for our Roku. I had wrung out Netflix pretty good over the summer, so I finally decided to check out what’s on Amazon. I clicked through and read the descriptions for all of their original shows.

My husband was pretty shocked when I picked Fleabag namely for one reason: it billed itself as a comedy-drama. Normally, I hate comedy-drama primarily because I do not like drama, and I absolutely love comedy, and it always seemed to me as some kind of cruelty to sneak in depressing cry-time bits to an affair I had joined just to have some fun. And to be honest, I primarily like shows or movies that are fun—and for me, documentaries fall into that category as I find learning to be exceptionally fun. However, I loathe drama. I have no idea why someone willingly wants to put themselves into a situation that feels a lot like spending the holidays with family. And nothing makes me more eye-rollie than the dreaded long-held, dark revelation that blows up everyone’s lives…sigh. With that said, somehow, I decided to try it out. The title of the show seemed promising: Fleabag.

Fleabag is about a late-twenties/ early thirties woman in London who has been rocked by a tragedy, and who is also a very terrible girl. She’s sexy, beautiful, intelligent, rude, dishonest, mean, selfish, tender, and very funny. Sex plays a big part in this show, and the show handles the sex in a weird, honest, graphic, and yet, non-porn way. The supporting cast is awesome and mainly consists of her sister, her brother-in-law, her father, and her step-mother.

What makes this show stand wayyyyy apart from other chicks-in-the-city-having-sex shows is the brazen terribleness of the lead, the brutal honesty of the lead, and well, it is a razor-sharp type of drama that I can get behind. While I loathe drama where mothers or daughters or brothers or best friends are admitting all sorts of awful, painful secrets and people are sitting on the floor in the kitchen and crying (stuff like that), I do love the bitter drama mainly found in literature from Cheever to Dostoevsky to Tom Wolfe. I love bitter satire. I love it when writers tell the bitter truth without the heavy drama. It’s a cold, hard world out there—and Fleabag awesomely delivers the other kind of comedy-drama that I can fully support. And when it does get to some crying and sitting on the floor a bitterly wicked line or action in no time at all is delivered. Ahhh, the relief!!

I never thought I would love this show as much as I ended up loving it and part of it was for a very curious reason: I came to love the truly terrible anti-heroine. She does hurt, and you find out why as the series progresses. However, she also doles out the hurt and in some nearly unforgivable ways (and really part of the tragedy is that she’s quite aware of that too). I ended up watching the entire 6 episode series in one go, which isn’t shocking as I am a night owl and a TV watching warrior. However, my husband falls asleep nearly instantly the television flickers on and rarely can endure more than two episodes of a chick show in a row, and he not only stayed up with me until two-thirty in the morning watching the show, we were up nearly an additional hour talking about it. So, for you gents out there—while Fleabag may look like a chick show it is anything but—it really tackles sex and being deeply flawed—something very universal, for as the show unfolds, you get to see the awfulness in everybody. And yet. And yet, you like them. Which oddly, makes this brutal comedy somehow spiritual, somehow moving. But not moving in the super-manipulative Hollywood violin swooning way that irritates me immensely, rather, the bitter blunt way like fire burns and knives cut.

Fleabag is a co-production between BBC Three and Amazon Studios. It originally premiered July 2016. The show’s creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is also the star, which makes the show even more intense as you realize she absolutely agreed to be that terrible—she created the lead. The show was adapted from Waller-Bridge’s 2013 one-woman play that won first prize at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This is a super good time to start watching as it was officially announced that a second season would be coming out in 2019. (Wikipedia)

Lastly, can we love a terrible girl? I hope so.

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.

Really Really Terrible Girls