Within the last six months alone, Phoebe Waller-Bridge has gone home with a Golden Globe, multiple Emmys, a Critic’s Choice Award and a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor. In total, Waller-Bridge has more than a dozen prestigious awards to her name, and all for her two-season comedy-drama, Fleabag.
The show has been described as “genius” and “hilarious” by TV’s harshest critics and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular TV series of the past five years. We’ve laughed and cried with Fleabag and we have streamed that episode at least four times (this month…). But what is it about Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece that has it at the center of the award ceremony radar?
The story itself is great, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. We follow a posh woman through London as she navigates life after the death of her best friend. The characters are not like your everyday people and yet somehow, they are more relatable than anyone else on TV at the moment. Claire’s hysterical breakdown over a haircut, the dad’s inability to communicate with the girls about anything sensitive, and Harry’s breakup routine are all subtle details that resonate with a wide audience. This isn’t a drama about mysterious strangers showing up in the middle of the night with a dark past, it’s a show about the intricate details of modern life.
What makes the series even more relatable is the intimate way that we get to know our protagonist. Fleabag speaks to us directly, frequently while she is in the middle of a fight or an intimate moment in the bedroom. Many shows break down the fourth wall but in Fleabag, we are spoken to directly. We are given a special invitation into the protagonist’s mind and this is not just a source of intimacy, it is a source of humor. Much of the show’s hilarity comes down to Waller-Bridge’s brilliant scriptwriting and ability to shine a light on the awkward details of everyday life.
When you combine this relatability with the gorgeous soundtrack from Phoebe’s sister and the stellar acting and direction, what you have is a show that stands up above the rest. It scores highly in all categories but at the end of the day, what makes the show so special is the fact that is real. It’s a show about characters we have nothing in common with that we might as well have everything in common with. It’s a show about what it means to be a human being in the modern world. And that is why Fleabag is smashing it at major award events.