“I was in my mid-twenties and felt quite angry and rage-y,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge told TV critics about writing the play that has been adapted into a new Amazon half-hour series Fleabag, about a dry-witted, sexual, angry, grief-riddled woman as she hurls herself at life in London.
“Not sure why,” she added, during the show’s Q&A at TCA this morning. “I think it had to do with how confused I was about feminism and how to be a good feminist… and how much sex women should or should not be having.”
In the series, Fleabag sometimes talks directly to viewers, which she said was an attempt to play with audience complicity. “She can look at you and say, ‘You know what I mean?’ You’re involuntarily complicit with the story.”
Director Harry Bradbeer described that sucking in of the audience as “very seductive.” “Those looks to the camera have very subtle inference and impact. Sometimes it’s very direct,” and other times “maybe just a small tiny glance that gives you a sense of what is going on in her head. Those small asides,” Bradbeer said, “are the moments viewers most want to repeat and to gif.”
Asked if she thinks her proper British accent helps the series pull off the naughty bits with American viewers, Waller-Bridge acknowledged, “It’s a well-known joke that Americans love the British and you can be as naughty and filthy as you like and they’ll still think you’re charming.”
Her accent, she said, is “very polite and somewhat sanitizing,” which helps her pull off saying “something monstrous or filthy.”
“I am aware of having this accent, there is a certain kind of cheekiness that will be interpreted as charm.”
Brett Gelman (Twin Peaks), Olivia Colman (Peep Show), Bill Paterson (Outlander), Hugh Dennis (Outnumbered), Hugh Skinner (Poldark), Jamie Demetriou (People Time), Jenny Rainsford (The Smoke),and Sian Clifford (Paddy) also star. Harry Bradbeer (Dickensian) directs.