“Love is awful. It’s awful. It’s painful. It’s frightening. It makes you doubt yourself, judge yourself, distance yourself from the other people in your life. It makes you selfish. It makes you creepy, makes you obsessed with your hair, makes you cruel, makes you say and do things you never thought you would do. It’s all any of us want, and it’s hell when we get there. So no wonder it’s something we don’t want to do on our own. I was taught if we’re born with love then life is about choosing the right place to put it. People talk about that a lot, feeling right, when it feels right it’s easy. But I’m not sure that’s true. It takes strength to know what’s right. And love isn’t something that weak people do. Being a romantic takes a hell of a lot of hope. I think what they mean is, when you find somebody that you love, it feels like hope.”
Spoilers to follow. If you haven’t watched Fleabag by now, what are you doing??
The series finale to BBC’s Fleabag aired nearly 7 months ago, and yet for some reason I’ve re-watched the episode upwards of ten times since it was originally broadcast. I think it might be one of the most beautiful pieces of television I’ve watched in my entire life, and every time I re-watch it I find a different reason why.
It’s God, isn’t it?
I have watched the final scene of Fleabag so many times that if it were a VHS it would be gray and fuzzy. The scene is so heartbreakingly engrained in my brain that whenever I hear Alabama Shakes’ ‘This Feeling,’ I immediately feel melancholy. Over the course of two series, we bear to witness the sheer chaos that is Fleabag’s relationships with everyone around her. She resents her (soon-to-be) step-mother (and with good reason), seems incapable of connecting with men outside of sex, and is constantly grappling with the role that she played in the loss of her best friend, Boo. The only person that seems to ‘get’ Fleabag, at times even against her will, is the Priest. It is for this reason that it is so incredibly heartbreaking watching Fleabag and the Priest sit at the bus stop and simultaneously come to the realisation that they love each other, but can never be together. ‘It’s God, isn’t it?’ Fleabag says, her voice cracking.
The first time I watched this scene it ripped my heart open, and out spilled the countless times I have been in Fleabag’s shoes. For me, instead of waiting for a bus, I was sitting at the edge of a boy’s bed with one shoe on, desperately trying to get him to explain why he couldn’t love me before my Uber arrived. I can’t even remember what he said, and it took me awhile to realise that it didn’t really matter. Still I wish, like the Priest, that he had blamed God. At least then, I would know that my heartbreak was because of something bigger than me, regardless of what I actually believe. Instead, the only certainty I was given was the look on his face that said I would never see him again.
‘I love you.’ ‘It’ll pass.’ This line hit me so hard in the proverbial feels that I just impulsively paid £12 on Etsy to have it engrained on a necklace. Love does pass. That is the thing about love and grief – they come and go and will eventually pass over you if you let them. This, however, does not ease the pain of someone that you love encouraging you to let it pass. Nor, in the case of the Priest, does it ease the pain of telling someone who loves you and whom you love back that they should let you go. In summary, this five word exchange is sheer agony to witness on screen. Despite how close to home this scene always hits, I commend Fleabag for avoiding the stereotypical happy ending and instead tying up Fleabag’s loose ends in a way that is real and universal. Whether you want to comfort Fleabag from experience that she will get through this, or cry on her shoulder because ‘it’ still hasn’t passed over you, this moment is an incredibly accessible display of heartbreak.
My sister, who in many ways is the Claire to my Fleabag, has always had this idea that Netflix should let you make episode playlists based on different moods or themes. I think she came up with this idea for the purpose of making a Christmas playlist of all the best Christmas episodes of Friends, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, but I imagine my Netflix playlists would be a lot more emotionally self indulgent. Fleabag‘s finale would be on the top of my playlist for when I simply need to feel, when I’m hungover and anxious, when I had a long meaningless day at work, when I just want to feel a little indulgent catharsis. This is the essence of Fleabag, the fact that for all its outlandishness, it is so incredibly raw. None of us are Fleabag, and yet amidst her heartbreak, lust, love, and vulnerability, Fleabag is all of us.