Phoebe Waller-Bridge And ‘Fleabag’ Absolutely Cleaned Up At The Emmy’s

Maxwell JonesMaxwell Jones in Entertainment, TV
Published 23.09.19
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Fleabag picked up a ridiculous amount of Emmy Awards last night…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stole the show (as usual) at last night’s Emmys, sweeping up the comedy awards like Nigel Farage swept up the constituencies in this year’s European elections. But in a good way, obviously.

Yes, 2019 has been a good year for the actor and writer who brought joy to our lives with two painfully short seasons of Fleabag, which broke records and was met with universal acclaim.

Waller-Bridge’s portrayal of the sex-addicted singleton in modern-day London was perhaps an unlikely phenomenon, but in the space of only two seasons has already become a cult hit that has put all other original British comedies to shame.

And that includes you, Little Britain.

Fleabag, a comedy that I once described to friends as ‘a show that breaks the fourth wall like House of Cards but not in any way political or morally bankrupt’, won for Waller-Bridge a wave of trophies at last night’s 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, second only to Game of Thrones, who was nominated for 32 awards and took home 12. But for a show that consisted of only two perfect seasons compared to eight six-were-only-good seasons, that’s not half bad.

Accepting the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Waller-Bridge surprised everyone by confessing: ‘I find writing really, really hard and really painful.’

And beaming happily at the adoring crowd before her, added: ‘I’d like to say, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, that the reason I do it is this.’

Based originally on a one-woman play at the Edinburgh Festival, Waller-Bridge plays the titular character of ‘Fleabag’ (who, interestingly, is never actually referred to by name in the show so we assume her name is Fleabag), who attempts to control her manic addiction to sex with hilarious and sometimes saddening results. Supporting characters include her melodramatic pencil-like sister Claire (Sian Clifford) and her sicklingly sweet but vicious Godmother (Olivia Colman).

The show decimated its US rivals at the awards, upstaging even Armando Ianucci’s Veep, whose lead star Julia Louis-Dreyfus was deprived of her ninth award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, which would have made her the most decorated Emmys performer of all time.

phoebe waller bridge emmy's

I know what you’re thinking. Selina Meyer really can’t catch a break, can she?

Other awards included Best Comedy Series and Best Directing, which is definitely well deserved. But it wasn’t just Fleabag who credits Waller-Bridge’s success, as her dark adaptation of Luke Jennings’s spy thriller Killing Eve also snorted a line of success with a wave of nominations and a winner for Jodie Comer, whose characterisation of psychotic Villanelle probably replaced Pennywise the Clown in most adults’ nightmares.

Waller-Bridge’s success is believed to come mostly from her close analysis of the female psyche, both in moments of light-hearted humour and absolute chaos. Her authentic and realistic conclusions have led to a wave of interest from other well established projects that want to hear her ideas for modernising female characters. For example, MGM’s decision to bring her in as a consultant to work on the new Bond film, No Time to Die, has resulted in even higher anticipation for Daniel Craig’s last outing as the character so famously perceived as misogynistic and sexist in the nigh sixty years he has dominated the silver screen. It’s likely that the female characters will also have a lot more depth from now on, no longer being what Vesper Lynd once described in Casino Royale as ‘disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits’.

Speaking of the development of Fleabag’s character across the two seasons, Waller-Bridge said: ‘The thing I really got off on was putting a female character out there that was all-knowing about sex and one step ahead, who knew what the guys were thinking before they thought it and yet still played slightly dumb to them.

‘Oh, God, it brought me so much pleasure.’ 

She’s not the only one.

Images via BBC, Getty

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