For Millennials. By Millennials.
Fleabag. It’s depressing, witty and brilliant. Taking a different storytelling medium, Phoebe-Waller Bridge has shown how spectacularly talented she is. Unfortunately, the show just ended after two seasons. Oh, but what glorious and binge-able seasons they were. If you’re having a mental breakdown in life, you should watch Fleabag. Even if you aren’t, you should watch it still since it will tell you how to love yourself.
To quote Fleabag herself in the start of season 2:
“This is a love story”
Love Story With Hot Priest
Of course, at first glance, the love story is about Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller–Bridge falling in love with the Hot Priest, played brilliantly by Andrew Scott.
It’s heartbreaking and tragic as love usually is. The story is so raw yet relatable because there’s no happily ever after for the two. The Hot Priest ends up choosing God over Fleabag.
You never quite know how to deal with that. When a guy you like chooses God over you, it’s heartbreak on a whole other level. But with Fleabag, we know she’s used to dealing with heartbreak over a whole other level.
Love Story With Her Sister Claire
At second glance, one might think the love story is about Fleabag with her sister Claire (Sian Clifford).
The two don’t have the perfect relationship and find it hard to connect on a lot of moments. Yet, their care for one another effortlessly speaks out. They have a genuine love for each other, even when they can’t express it themselves. We see that when Claire ends up blurting out how she didn’t take the promotion to Finland because she didn’t want to leave her sister behind. And we saw it when after a whole year of not talking to each other, Fleabag ends up covering for Claire when she has a miscarriage. And then later on Claire waits for her in the taxi to ensure that Fleabag isn’t alone. The two always end up caring for one another.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself has stated that she loves this idea of the main love story being between her and Claire:
“I feel like that’s always been the love story. They’re inexplicably linked by sisterhood.
Basically, the line ‘this is a love story’ can have different meanings depending on how you see it.
I personally think it’s about the Hot Priest, Claire, and most importantly Fleabag herself. It’s the most painful story ever: falling in love with yourself.
Fleabag’s Subtle Message of Self-Love
No, I’m not just talking about Fleabag’s openness about masturbation. It’s about her coming to terms with herself. In season 1, we find out that her best friend Boo accidentally killing herself was a direct result from Fleabag’s actions.
Boo suspected her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else and she needed him to feel bad about it. So, she tried to hurt herself. She didn’t intend to kill herself. Though, Boo ends up dying. Later, we find out that Fleabag was the one that actually slept with Boo’s boyfriend.
Essentially, Fleabag’s best friend is dead because of Fleabag. This is something Fleabag obviously hates herself for. With each flashback of Boo, we know that she still deeply misses her best friend and feels alone without her. With no other friend she can count on or any family member that she can voice her troubles to without some issue popping up, she only had Boo. But the painful reality is still there. She hurt Boo deeply. And didn’t even get a chance to say sorry and make amends.
It’s something you can’t ever forgive yourself for. Hurting someone you love the most. It’s nearly impossible. But Fleabag demonstrates that it can be.
In Fleabag’s season 2, we see that she’s working hard to improve her life. She’s eating better, exercising, focusing on making the cafe successful, and not sleeping with random guys for instance Arsehole Guy. She’s learning to let things that are out of her control go and she’s focusing on things that she can still control.
And she’s still making an effort. She is consistently caring for her sister every step of the way. She didn’t even think twice about covering about her miscarriage and she wanted to make sure she got in the hospital in time. In season 2, she makes sure her father is there at the wedding with Stepmum (Olivia Coleman) even though she’s not a big fan of the union.
Despite the mistakes she’s made, she still adamantly tries to care for those she loves. Even if they have hurt in the past on some occasion or the other.
Well, fleabag has hurt herself too by her own mistakes. But she still chooses to give herself a chance and to love herself.
When she breaks down at the altar with the Hot Priest, she sobs,
“I just think I want someone to tell me how to live my life, father, because so far I think I’ve been getting it wrong”
She feels hopeless and uncertain about the future. But that’s not stopping her from still painfully moving on. In the end, she doesn’t get the Hot Priest in her life. Someone she genuinely loves leaves her. Phoebe Waller-Bridge sheds the most realistic tears in that scene:
But after it, she stands up and goes back to her life while bidding us a heartfelt goodbye. She knows she’s still alone and there’s a lot more pain she has to overcome, but that’s not preventing her to continue living.
At the heart of it, isn’t that what self-love is? Loving yourself in spite of your shortcomings and your flaws. And the crippling uncertainty and fear about the future. You still continue living and continue betting on yourself.
Of course, the love story wasn’t just about herself. It was about a lot of things but I think Phoebe Waller-Bridge beautifully portrayed how to give yourself another chance, even in the worst of circumstances.
But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?