I rewatched Fleabag again today.
When I first watched it, I really liked it. But I was confused by its popularity, given Fleabag’s self-described sexually deviant nature. I guess I also didn’t realize people would enjoy being in someone’s head so much.
My experience has been a lot like Orange is the New Black in that, when I find people watching the show and mention I’d watched it once, they go “The full thing?” because it’s intense. Quite intense. It’s a good thing people often find they tolerate, even enjoy much more intense things than they knew they were capable of, or had the appetite for.
I found Fleabag during a broken-heart period of my life (read: present), but also at a time when I’m not moping in self-pity. And I think what people like in her really comes down to her authenticity. How she’s refreshingly raw and doesn’t shy away from her sexuality, but suppresses all of her guilt deep within. How she plays the role of the less cold yet awkward sibling that’s relentlessly trying to connect with her affectionate, stern sister. It’s endearing how she yearns for connection yet doesn’t quite go looking for it, how so much of her behavior is a cry for help (as we find it is in life), and how she begs to confess her sins because that’s what’s really eating her up.
It’s this that I think makes Fleabag so likeable. That she’s got her own stash, is unabashed in her shortcomings, of which there seems to be ample (and exaggerated) supply, but tries her best to go about life. Of course her sense of humor and her ongoing dialogue with us help, and I am happy with its success because it means people can deal with real people on screen.