Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is a 30-year-old English woman living in London. Having relationship problems with her boyfriend Harry (Hugh Skinner), Flea has nothing against speed dating and subsequent sexual encounters. She is trying to do business: she keeps a small cafe, on the walls of which pictures of guinea pigs are hung. Rubbish started this cafe together with her close friend Boo (Jenny Rainsford), but Boo died in an accident, which Rubbish is very worried about, well, things are frankly bad in her cafe.
Flea has a sister, Claire (Sean Clifford). The relationship between the sisters is very, very complicated. Claire is quite wealthy, has a husband, Martin (Brett Gelman), whom Rubbish can’t stomach and who reciprocates with her completely.
From time to time, Filth and Claire pay visits to their father (Bill Paterson). He, after the death of his wife, the mother of the sisters, became friends with the godmother of his children (Olivia Colman). The godmother is a talented artist, but on a purely human level, she is an extremely unpleasant person: she is very hypocritical and has a rare ability to humiliate people.
The summary of the plot line looks very boring. Some aunt with her problems, sisterly squabbles, family squabbles and all that. However, this is an absolutely wonderful series, which I now have literally in the first places in the overall rating of series.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the writer of “Fleabag”, the executive producer of the series, and she also played the title role. Phoebe came up with this character for a small sketch that she needed to prepare for a party, then from this sketch a “one-man performance” appeared, which Phoebe performed in 2013 in Edinburgh, and as a result, the performance turned into a full-fledged series.
The narration is conducted on behalf of the heroine Phoebe, and at the same time she quite often refers directly to the audience, explaining all sorts of important points. And one must see with what a completely indescribable expression she looks through the screen at the audience, reacting to certain events.
This technique – the so-called “breaking the fourth wall”, when the actor directly addresses the audience – is sometimes used in films and TV shows. In “House of Cards” Frank occasionally gave the audience an explanation through the screen, in “Deadpool” Wade Wilson also directly addressed the audience.
In “Fleabag” the main charm is not in the technique itself, but in the way Phoebe does it. Moreover, her character, in general, cannot be said to be an example to follow. She jokes rather strangely, is obsessed with sex, and is very promiscuous in her relationships. Rubbish easily starts various family scandals, she likes to get into other people’s affairs and cuts the truth in the eyes of absolutely everyone.
At the same time, you sympathize with her. Because she is unhappy and lonely. And her here is this ruffiness and readiness to provoke a scandal at any moment – precisely from her complete disorder and from very difficult relationships with close relatives.
Despite the fact that at first “Fleabag” seems to be a kind of black-humor comedy, where the heroine very frankly shares many secret aspects of her life with the audience, showing an example of complete openness and desire not to hide absolutely anything, no matter how she looks, then quite quickly you understand that despite many very funny moments, this series is a drama. And it is about the search for love of the main character.
About finding love and understanding with her sister, about finding a person whom she herself would love, and not torment, like poor Harry.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge was great as Filthy. (By the way, this was actually the actress’s own childhood family nickname.) One glance at the screen conveys so many different emotions that it’s just absolutely wonderful. And she shows a very complex and very controversial image. At the same time, the image is really very open, and you understand absolutely everything that happens to her and why it happens.
Sean Clifford is very good as Claire, and she does a great job of showing the stages Claire had to go through in her relationship with Fleabag in order for them to eventually reach a certain level of understanding and become much closer people than before.
Olivia Colman turned out to be an absolutely masterpiece godmother (many of the characters in the series do not have names, like Rubbish): well, such a hypocrite, well, such an always smiling bitch that it’s just a brilliance!
Brett Gelman is very good as Martin, Claire’s husband. Self-confident asshole, alcoholic and scoundrel. The character is absolutely beautiful in its unconditional meanness. His relationship with Trash is downright hilarious.
The first season was filmed in 2016, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself did not know if there would be a second season, because she did not originally have an idea for a second season, and she knew that she could not afford to lower the bar.
As a result, the second season was filmed only two years later, and it was released in 2019. Fleabag was named Primetime Comedy Series at the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge was named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. In the States, both the series and Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself are terribly popular, and she is also in great demand as a screenwriter.
In the second season, Filth meets a Catholic priest who has taken a vow of celibacy. Of course, Rubbish also seduced the priest, but the priest is not easy there either: he, like any decent Irishman, drinks heavily, swears and does not shy away from sexual contacts. When they make claims to him that he himself behaves contrary to the commandments, the priest explains that his main task is to lead people to God, to be a good guide for them. So, says the priest, I’m an excellent guide. And then what do you care how I behave myself?
The priest is played by Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock), and he’s just incredibly good here! So good that it even pulls the audience’s attention from Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And almost the entire second season is devoted to their relationship: interesting, subtle and somewhat touching. Moreover, these relationships could not have a future: the priest immediately made it clear that the main thing for him was religion.
A wonderful series, I watched it with great pleasure and I will definitely rewatch it: some episodes are so coolly done that I want to watch it again in order to catch more details that were originally missed.
Surely not everyone will do well – there is no naturalism in showing sex scenes here, but everything is said in a completely open text – but the series, in my opinion, is more than worth watching. But in United States, he is still practically invisible: I have not found a single review by film critics (only Ivan Filippov did a good podcast for IMDB), and there is practically nothing about him on movie sites.
Rubbish / Fleabag serie meaning
Director: Phoebe Waller-Bridge Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Hugh Skinner, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sean Clifford, Jenny Rainsford, Bill Paterson, Brett Gelman, Ben Eldridge, Hugh Dennis
Series, UK, 2016, 27 min. 2 seasons 6 episodes