Fleabag: My New Escapism

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For a while now I have been out of love with TV. What used to be my favourite form of escapism after a stressful day of high school, in which I would plonk myself down on the sofa and stick on a quiz show at 4pm after finishing all my homework (what a life), is now a form of media that frankly tends to drain me. I used to love getting invested in TV shows when I was younger. Be it trashy BBC soaps like Eastenders and Waterloo Road, or reality TV shows like Made in Chelsea, there was always something on the telly which I could tune into if I was bored. The arrival of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime brought Christmas early for TV lovers like me; all of a sudden I could stream my favourite shows literally whenever I wanted and access online originals such as Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards, which quickly became my new favourites. 

But lately, something has changed. I no longer find myself enjoying the formulaic churning out of Netflix Originals, and TV dramas seem to have lost their touch. I got about five minutes into Netflix’s You and had to switch it off after cringing through the pretentious dialogue (seriously, no one talks like that). The same goes for the majority of Netflix originals; the dialogue either seems too clever as if the writer is trying to show off, or it just sounds absolutely dreadful and corny as in the case of Riverdale. I gave BBC’s Bodyguard a shot but found Richard Madden’s performance wooden, and the whole set up felt what I can only describe as “very BBC”. I go home and see advertisements for a new ITV drama and no matter how intriguing the plot, it just doesn’t seem to capture my interest at all. The same feel of the show keeps being drafted out in almost a kind of flat-pack style; it’s impossible for me to lay my finger on it, but for some reason I’ll get ten minutes into a new TV show and turn it off in frustration. Even Game of Thrones annoyed me last season- but that probably requires a whole other article explaining why. 

I’d love to say I’m cultured enough to go to bed reading a book but after a day of studying academic jargon I literally just cannot be bothered. Finding a good TV show to help me switch off from my upcoming dissertation deadline is something I’ve been really struggling with; I’ve just resorted to watching repeats of shows I’ve watched time and time again, which isn’t holding my interest at all and therefore is not doing me and my stress levels any favours. However a few weeks ago, tucked away in the depths of BBC IPlayer from 2016 I found my saving grace: Fleabag. 

Just when I thought all good TV had been completely exhausted, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliance burst into my life much like how I burst out into laughter time and time again when binging the first season. Fleabag follows the life of aunnamed, unashamedly sexually liberal, morally questionable anti-hero trying to make ends meet in London following a recent tragedy. Perfectly combining dark comedy with tender moments of sorrow, Waller-Bridge’s pure genius captures raw emotion and real people with subtleties that make you marvel at her literary brilliance. Fleabag routinely breaks the fourth wall with the occasional meaningful glance towards us not just to show us that she knows we’re there for her every escapade, but somewhat to include us in the drama.  

With the launch of its second season just three weeks ago, Fleabag has already seen tragedy, passive aggressive fighting with her evil stepmother, the (spoiler!) revelation of her bisexuality and sexual tension with a really hot priest. The juxtaposition of her ungodliness against an actual priest is almost too much for me to handle; it’s exciting, it’s superbly well written and shows how the show is constantly able to push its own boundariesSo if you’re looking for a way to unwind from your deadlines or just simply want something really bloody good to watch, I cannot recommend Fleabag enough, and considering the sheer magnitude of issues poor “Fleabag” has to deal with, it makes doing a degree seem not so bad after all. 

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