Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge explains how she cracked season 2
For Fleabag fans, critics included, season 1 was perfect television. Phoebe Waller-Bridge may not go that far, but she was proud of the work done in her fourth-wall-breaking dramedy. Even though she was initially hesitant to do more episodes — good thing she did because, Emmys! — she found a compelling reason for a second season.
As most things go, it had to do with the hot priest.
“I was very smug about not coming back because I thought I had a lot of artistic integrity in not coming back after the first season,” Bridge told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show this week. “Because the first season had a proper ending in my mind. It was based on a play and it was adapted to the same ending. I felt like, in the first season, it was the most interesting version of that girl’s story we were ever gonna hear.”
What was important to Bridge, ultimately, was Fleabag’s relationship with the camera. The character regularly breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to her audience and, in season 1, this element is used to reveal a season-long secret that prompts her to no longer speak to the camera for the final five minutes.
Bridge explains, “Unless I can reinvent a reason for why she talks to the camera again, I can’t see how I can justify coming back because the whole point of the first [season] was she had this front and this persona to the camera until this secret was revealed and then she’s kind of shy.” Going back with the same premise felt “dishonest” to her when the audience already knew this secret.
In comes the hot priest, Andrew Scott’s overnight sensation.
In season 2, Fleabag strikes up a relationship with the Priest (that’s just what he’s called), and he has the uncanny skill of seeing straight through her. “When I came up with the trick of another character seeing that she looks to the camera, that’s when the whole thing cracked open again,” the creator-star-writer-executive producer said.
Fleabag has since gone on to earn 11 total Emmy nominations this year, including best comedy series and lead actress in a comedy. That’s on top of the nine Emmy nominations for Killing Eve, another show created by Bridge.