Dreamer, wordsmith, mum of two - I enjoy the outdoors, good food and good company. Subscribe to my articles to follow what I've been up to, and like those articles you want to see more of so I can tailor what I write to my audience.
Published October 26th 2020
The one with the hot priest
Hot Priest from Fleabag. Photo from Fleabag Facebook page.
I am a little late coming to this party, but I am here now and want to share it with the uninitiated, as I was, less than a month ago.
If you haven't seen Fleabag yet, you must. There is simply no better show on TV. I don't care who you are or what you like. This is hilarious, crass, heartbreaking, tender, nuanced, thoughtful TV, that shows both the ugly side of human nature, and the finer feelings, and makes us laugh at it all. It is utterly brilliant, and I have watched Season 2 half a dozen times since I first saw it. And I never do that. With any show.
I enjoyed Season 1, once I got past the first couple of episodes. Truth be told, I found some of Phoebe Waller Bridge's (the creator of the show and actress who plays Fleabag) early sex scenes and the monologues to the camera quite jarring and weird, but once I adjusted, it became endearing, and I realised this device was a clever tool to capture Fleabag's inner monologue, which could be both petty and pertinent, and oddly reassuring that thinking like this is normal.
Then I watched Season 2, and it blew me away.
Andrew Scott plays the hot priest, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't seriously disturbed by how hot this actor who I know better as the incredibly psychopathic, badly deranged Moriarty from Sherlock, is, in playing this priest. It's a testament to Scott's range that my brain that had him pegged as a detestable super villain from Sherlock and Spectre, is quite happy to embrace him as an adorable all-round charming priest, and my libido goes, "ooh, you're a hottie - I'll have me some of that!"
Close up of priest. Photo from Fleabag Facebook page
In one episode, the priest mentions his love of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh, and I found myself raiding my daughter's bookcase to find The House at Pooh Corner to reacquaint myself with Piglet.
I am obsessed. And I am not alone. People worldwide are obsessed with this show. The hot priest offers Fleabag some G&T in a can from M&S, and sales of real M&S G&T go up by 20%. That's crazy right there, but having seen the show, I get it.
I saw one YouTube clip that said that sales of "priest porn" (who knew this was even a thing?) are up 120% as a result of this show.
But if you're thinking the relationship between the priest and Fleabag is salacious or sleazy, it's not, it's actually just so very human. As a former lapsed Catholic watching this show, Andrew Scott's portrayal of the priest chimes with authenticity - a good man with a good heart, who has devoted his life to God, but who has the usual human frailties.
Fleabag and sister with dad. From Fleabag Facebook page
The chemistry between Fleabag and the priest is dynamite, and some of the most touching scenes are where the priest and Fleabag are just talking, and cautiously giving each other significant looks. But in these scenes, they appear to really see each other. There is some very subtle and brilliant camera work that underlines this point to distinguish these scenes from every other interaction Fleabag has with other characters, but you don't need to know about it (unless you want to go full-on Fleabag fan mode - in which case, check out all the Fleabag analysis clips on YouTube, and welcome to my world...)
And I think that is where the genius of Phoebe Waller-Bridges' creation truly shines, as the priest senses Fleabag's private monologues when she breaks the fourth wall with the viewers. He senses her doing this in a way that nobody else in Fleabag's life does, because when they are together, the world around them falls away and it is just him and her, where she has his undivided attention and he genuinely focuses just on her (except when a fox distracts him. That's not a joke.)
Fleabag and priest - significant looks. From Fleabag Facebook page
This ability to cut through Fleabag's private thoughts that she shares with viewers lends an intimacy to Fleabag's and the priest's relationship that transcends anything merely physical between them. It's searingly transfixing stuff and captures the spellbinding magic of clicking with someone special that first time.
It's sublime viewing, and Fleabag's portrayal of it as 'a love story' feels like an oversimplification because it's so much more than that, and yet, that is precisely what real love is, so it encapsulates Season 2 perfectly. It's a love story, imbued with the realities of love - the complications, the second-guessing, the fantasies, the heartbreak. Love is awful - which is why it's something we don't want to do on our own.
As obsessed as I am by this wonderful portrayal of love, the supporting cast is also excellent - this is a real ensemble effort, with some truly hilarious characters that make for entertaining plot twists and agonising dialogue between Fleabag and her family members. I particularly love the way Fleabag depicts the bond between her and her sister. They are polar opposites, but there is an undeniable connection between them that transcends their squabbles and disagreements.
Fleabag's brother-in-law, from Fleabag Facebook page
In this dark COVID-19 era where the future seems grim and darkness intrudes with every step, Fleabag Season 2 is a delightful spark of humour, pathos and insightful reflection on the perversity of our foibles and our hearts. It gives me a sense of hope. Do yourself a favour if you are one of the few people left on the planet who hasn't fallen in love with this show. Or the priest.
We are told that this is the final season of Fleabag, but that Andrew Scott and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are keen to work together again in the future.
I can't wait.
Fleabag is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.