Finding a TV series that is beloved by both critics and fans alike is as rare and wonderful as discovering a crumpled $20 note in your wallet just before payday.
Series creator and writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, stars as the show’s protagonist known only to the audience as “Fleabag”, a 30-something woman living a slightly disaster-filled life in London who pauses at certain pivotal moments, such as when she’s in the midst of having awkward sex, to talk frankly and directly to the camera about what’s really going on.
The show also chronicles both the extreme grief and loneliness of Fleabag’s life, coupled with her many sexual exploits and her volatile relationship with her family.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Holly Wainwright debrief on Fleabag on the latest episode of Mamamia Reviews. They explain why the main cast of characters don’t have names, the true significance of Hot Priest and the show’s one and only flaw.
Despite its near perfect universal reviews, however, there has been a bit of criticism thrown Fleabag’s way.
Since Fleabag ended its TV run with a second season, the protagonist’s “relatability” has been a matter of exhaustive online and media debate. There is talk that the character is too posh, too privileged and in some cases even too quirky, to relate to the average TV viewer.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has responded to criticism mounting against Fleabag, insisting that such arguments “undermine the story” and that people from a wide range of backgrounds should be able to relate to her show.
“To criticise a story on the basis of where the author had come from, or how privileged the author is, undermines the story,” she said on an episode of the podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.
I would argue, however, that true criticism of Fleabag does not lie with the finished TV product itself, but more with the way we have chosen to consume it.