The Unsung Heroine
"For girls, becoming a woman is an inevitability; for boys, becoming a man is an ambition."
- Kamila Shamshie, Homefire.
The first time (yes, there were more) I watched Fleabag, I was confused about what kind of a reaction it deserved. Should I have cried, laughed? Honestly, I still don’t know. What made me go back to the show and to its creator over and over again, however, was the finesse with which the mind of the protagonist is portrayed. That may seem like a generic comment, but I truly, really mean it. It’s not something I can explain to you through an article, maybe even a book, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge has accomplished what poets have been trying to do for decades- she took the human mind and was able to accurately showcase its intricacies.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a British playwright, actress and producer who graduated from Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2006. She is best known for her TV shows Fleabag and Killing Eve (Both the shows won many awards). Both these shows focus on female protagonists.
In Fleabag, the protagonist is played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself. In it, she is the co-owner of a café that she started with her best friend. This friend later dies in a horrific suicide and Fleabag (she has no name through the two seasons of the show) has to deal with the guilt of how responsible she was for the death of the person she loved the most. In Killing Eve the protagonist Eve (Sandra Oh), a member of the British intelligence, is looking for the serial killer Villainelle (Jodie Comer) but one thing leads to another and she realises that the two women are similar in more ways than one. In both these shows, the plot brings out what these women actually want- in Fleabag’s case, her lust for a priest makes her realise she’s diverting her guilt into lust, and Eve is seen falling in love with the work of Villainelle, and also the woman herself.
However, complex plots are just superficial to these stories. Phoebe Waller-Bridge successfully involves you into these stories and one can relate to these women despite having nothing in common, at least on the surface. The stories of women struggling to be at peace with themselves while being in love with someone else; trying to love themselves despite themselves- these are the stories of quiet suffering, a trait that has defined women for centuries.
One may then speculate about the kind of life Phoebe Waller-Bridge has led. It may surprise you to know that Waller-Bridge comes from a well-to-do family, is happily married and is now planning to have children. So where does she get the ideas for the workings of these complex minds? The answer to this question may come as a revelation to half the population: what PWB has portrayed as flamboyant, almost loud problems that affect the daily working of her characters’ lives are things that a woman goes through every day inside her head. Phoebe Waller-Bridge deftly puts it out there: for a woman, every action has a consequence that she has to deal with, inside or outside her head. Half the readership probably understands that this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
To end this exposition on the genius that is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, I definitely recommend these shows to all women on campus, but these are must-watch for men as well.
Must watch: Crashing (Netflix)- one of PWB’s first shows that didn’t do very well, but is just truly amazing. It’s short as well, so you can watch it during down-time to calm yourself down!