Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy returns with a holy vengeance, and it might be even better than the first season.
The first season of Fleabag was a naughty little batch of 6 episodes with a tragic, emotional core. Creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge was able to turn each and every one of us into Fleabag’s voyeuristic friend and conscience. She winked at us and spoke directly to us as any good friend would. We were along for her licentious ride, and we couldn’t turn away when it got ugly and sad. After more than two years, Waller-Bridge delivers Fleabag’s second coming and she allows her character to grow in such unexpected ways that I am tempted to say it’s even better than the first season.
It has been a year since the events of the first season, and Fleabag has made an effort to change her life. She doesn’t participate in meaningless sex anymore–she even turned down Arsehole Guy in an attempt to stay on the right track. The first episode opens at an engagement party for Fleabag’s father and godmother, and it’s a doozy. Fleabag hasn’t seen her sister, Claire (a delightfully tense Sian Clifford), since Claire’s husband, Martin (Brett Gelman) accused Fleabag of trying to kiss him on Claire’s birthday. Seriously, he’s such an exhausting turd. I hate him more than I care to articulate.
The dinner is a spectacular failure, and it’s the perfect way to begin a second season. Waller-Bridge’s writing allows the crisp direction to flourish so beautifully, and the end result is so zippy and so darkly comic. There is a place for you at the table, and you just chug chardonnay as you watch the car crash happen before you.
What makes this season different and not just an inappropriate retread of bad behavior? Fleabag is in love. The Priest officiating Fleabag’s father’s wedding is a charming dreamboat (“their cool, sweary priest!”) who seems as interested in Fleabag’s choices as she is with joking about how seriously he takes his relationship with God. He doesn’t condescend to her or pity her. Played with a cool curiosity by BAFTA winner Andrew Scott, The Hot Priest is an object of Fleabag’s desire, yes, but she honestly enjoys his company. Waller-Bridge and Scott have a palpable, flirty chemistry that is fun to watch. It’s easy between the two of them. You think that she just wants to bang a man of the cloth just to be controversial, but it’s obvious that Waller-Bridge isn’t interested in something that easy.
There is a moment when the show goes beyond what other comedies based in reality would dare to do. The Priest recognizes something in Fleabag, and she can’t understand how he can understand it. It’s a risky move that actually feels like it furthers the bond between these two.
Waller-Bridge is as cheeky as ever, but she’s less reckless this time around. She’s still slyly glancing at us, but she’s gotten even better at it. She’s able to breathe more this season. That relaxation is a great contrast to how tightly wound Clifford is for the majority of her scenes. The sisterly bond between them is biting but their shared screen time allows you to see the sweetness that exists without becoming saccharine. Colman, fresh of that Oscar win, is at the top of her game. She’s delicious at making you feel awful about yourself. Fiona Shaw and Kristin Scott Thomas pop up in memorable cameos that make this comedy even more wonderful than I ever thought it could be.
Am I sad to see Fleabag go? Of course. But am I thankful for the perfect time we had together? Jesus fucking Christ, yes!
All episodes of Fleabag‘s second season become available on Amazon Prime on May 17.