Welcome to The Indiependent’s Top TV of the Decade! In our 15th and final feature, James Nash explores why Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is his show of the year, the decade, and the century.
What more could possibly be said about the series that took the world by storm earlier this year? Yes, Fleabag is extraordinary. It’s revolutionary, it’s unique, it’s poetry. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s tragicomedy is so good that you can’t even put your finger on why it’s so good until after each episode is over, digesting the previous 25 minutes you either spent snorting with laughter or sitting in stunned silence.
The first series proved to be a cult hit – and rightly so. From episode one’s flawless opening punchline, “Do I have a massive arsehole?!”, to the final episode’s equal parts hilarious/gut-wrenching breakdown at the Sexhibition, Fleabag earned its place in the hearts of critics, and those of us who held it as ‘our little secret’. But if series one was A New Hope, series two was The Empire Strikes Back: bigger, bolder, better.
Both Fleabag and Waller-Bridge went stratospheric, as the series delved deeper into love, grief, feminism, religion, and family, all with louder laughs and harder sobs. The first episode is perhaps the most tightly-written, entertaining 25 minutes ever created, the Priest’s revelation at the end of episode three is jaw-dropping, spine-tingling television, and the finale is pure, bittersweet poetry – Dad’s casual, passing “I think you know how to love better than any of us… that’s why you find it all so painful” is the line of the decade. Fight me.
Perhaps we all fell in love with Fleabag, and indeed Fleabag herself, because she let us in. Unlike other series that break the fourth wall, we were her (only) friends: she confided in, conspired with, and confessed to us across twelve beautiful, hilarious, tragic, revolutionary, awe-inspiring chapters. It’s why saying goodbye was, and still is, so hard – in the words of our Lord and Saviour, Dame Waller-Bridge, “love isn’t something that weak people do”. Thank you, Fleabag.
Words by James Nash