Sam Nixon
Sam Nixon

Fall TV is a concept that sort of stops applying once you ditch the cable service for streaming alternatives and their more scattershot release schedules, but new streamable shows do still tend to arrive in batches. Old habits die hard, I guess.

I haven't dug too far into the slew of new things available to stream now that the leaves are turning, but one that does stand out so far is "Fleabag" on Amazon Video. Wonderfully profane and originally a BBC series that premiered over the summer in its native Britain, the show follows the titular "Fleabag" — nobody actually addresses her as such throughout the series, instead acknowledging her presence with tired glances or a cursory "oh hey, you" — through the ups and downs (primarily downs) of her life in London.

She isn't the best with managing relationships, having ended one stint with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Harry after absent-mindedly masturbating to a Barack Obama video. When the two agree (at Harry's suggestion) to try to surprise each other once a day, his idea is coming home early and preparing dinner and wine; hers involves donning a ski mask and knife and scaring the shit out of him in the shower.

Phoebe-Waller Bridge, the writer and star of the show, has a remarkable knack for easing the sometimes suffocatingly awkward moments of British comedy with a quizzical stare thrown toward the audience. Her fourth-wall breaking asides — in the form of both sideways glances acknowledging but rolling with the condescending comments men throw at her or windows into her own (often depraved) thought processes — are some of the best parts of the series.


I often don't have the stomach for the embarrassment that characters in British comedy shows are put through. It may be a quirk of mine, but anytime a pet belonging to a main character's love interest of the episode comes on screen, I immediately assume it's going to die in some bungled and cringe-inducing way. And then naturally whoever is responsible for said bungling later tries to smuggle the carcass out wrapped up in al-yoo-minium foil under the pretense that it's a leftover kebab or some shit.

That last little rant's not a spoiler for "Fleabag" or anything, oddly specific though it is, but I wouldn't be too surprised if some David Mitchell vehicle has explored that exact plotline and I just haven't come across it yet. My poor heart can't take it.

Brazen though it may be, "Fleabag" does trend on the more poignant side of comedy shows today, taking efforts to explore the inner conflicts that drive the main character's self-destructive and self-serving behavior rather than wallowing in it. The explicit sexuality of the series may keep it from reaching a wider audience, but anyone up for frank examinations of failed relationships and digs about taking a shit in the sink will want to tune in.

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