How Fleabag’s Dead Mum Saves the Day in Season 2

Statue of Fleabag's mother, created by her Godmother

Here are some of my thoughts of the amazing show, Fleabag created by the illustrious Phoebe Waller-Bridge

WARNING SPOILER ALERT: THIS POST IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN SEASON 1 AND 2

I thought about why Fleabag’s father, sister AND her Godmother are so hostile towards her and it’s because despite being a fuckup, she is loved, she is funny and especially because Fleabag reminds them of her dead mother.
 
By all accounts Fleabag’s mother was beautiful, funny and very beloved and it must be painful for the father to see Fleabag who reminds him of the love that he lost.

Fleabag’s resemblance to her mother is particularly disturbing to her Godmother (soon to be stepmother). Fleabag’s existence is a constant reminder to the Godmother that she will never measure up to the original mother she desperately wants to replace. The bond between Fleabag and her father irritates the future Godmother so deeply and overall, she is threatened by the unwavering love between her fiancé and his daughters.

Drawing of Fleabag or Phoebe

In fact, upon further reflection – the amazing qualities of Fleabag’s mother permeate Season 2 in such a loving and gentle manner that you realize it is very possible an unspoken love letter to her mother.

The gold statue – a symbol of the mother – shows up in so many unusual ways.

The Godmother created a tiny gold (literal) bust of Fleabag’s mother with no arms or legs or head, just the body. Did she create this statue with the mother actually modeling? What Godmother her to create it? To empower herself and diminish the mother’s presence in her mind? Or is it a tribute of love to her friend, and a token of gratitude for the new family she has acquired? After all, the statue is small yet it is made of precious material and it’s extremely valuable.

Fleabag steals it when she desperately needs financial help to keep her cafe financially afloat. Of all pieces of her Godmother’s, how could she unknowingly steal the statue of her mother?

I also thought about how the statue “saves the day” for Claire’s presentation after Fleabag accidentally destroys the impeccable glass award Claire so painstakingly chose.

And at the very end, in the dank bus stop when she loses the love of her life, she pulls the statue out and it seems to give her solace.

The statue quietly vibrates with life and her mother’s presence gives Fleabag the unconditional love she needs in a moment where she is (and we are) completely shattered.

Fleabag & Hot Priest

The Significance of Fleabag’s Motherand Motherhood in General

Fleabag’s mother also quietly upends the myth of the asexual “good mother” who is dutiful and and lives for her child. 

When you see paintings of mothers in the male gaze it’s usually an angelic woman “sitting with child” and fulfilling her domestic duties: giving a child a bath, breastfeeding or holding a child as if she si the Virgin Mary personified.

These images of how mothers are portrayed aren’t empowering for women who have children as these ideals subtly reinforce the sentiment that no matter how much mothers progress professionally: a “good mother” stays at home with her children and are always haplessly out of touch and ineffective.

Source: “Korean Mother & Child” By Elizabeth Klein (1924)

Even comedians cartoonishly portray their own mothers in a buffoonish “mom jeans” fashion and the Fleabag series completely throws this paradigm out the window.

Fleabag’s mother (though unseen) is portrayed as beautiful, complex woman who is not defined by a vocation, her children or other external things like status or education, but by simply being authentically herself, just as Fleabag does.

That said, it is quite clear that, despite her mother living a full life on her own terms, her unconditional love for her daughter was never sacrificed. Though Fleabag’s mother affection is never explicitly shown in the series, it is unmistakable that she loved her daughter very much and vice versa.

Her mother is one of the most reliable and purest forms of love Fleabag ultimately turns to when she faced one of her most challenging moments.

Fleabag realizes that despite being devastated by the priest choosing God over her,*she* was the one that she was looking for all along. 

This feeling is so beautifully highlighted by the Alabama Shakes singing: “But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright.” and you know she means it as she motions to the camera she no longer needs it’s artifice to live.




25 Thing Random Things About Me

Shooting a comedy skit highlighting PRIDE DAY! Big up to writer & actress, Christine Fang.
  1. I was raised in both Suffolk County, Long Island & Millersville, Maryland. As a child I was very tough and while not exactly a bully I was (and still not) a pushover. One of my high school classmates described me as a little tough dog who attacks big dogs. This was a derogatory jerk statement but I also weirdly felt some pride in it.
  2. My grandmother on my paternal side was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. We were very close.
  3. I love the Mets even though they make me feel a lot of pain. GARGH #LGM
  4. Ever since I was in 5th grade I wanted to be an actor & cartoonist. This was in a slambook where one of the questions asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.
  5. When I became pregnant with my son, I had strong feelings of depression during pregnancy and postpartum. I was lucky because I had excellent family support and therapy. When I see people with mental illness on the streets I know for a fact that we aren’t really different.
  6. I have 40 hour of mediation Training from the New York Peace Institute. I also assisted in the training of NYPD community officers to learn mediation skills.
  7. I really LOVE being lazy in a bookstore. I could spend hours in a bookstore.
  8. My mom married three husbands so my I was not enthusiastic about marriage. I was a flower girl in one wedding and her maid of honor in another.
  9. I got my sense of warped humor from my mom, and the blue collar neighborhood I grew up in.
  10. Favorite movies: The Godfather I & II, Goodfellas, On the Waterfront, The Big Sick, Dumb & Dumber, Moulin Rouge, Moonlight, Dr. Strange, Chung-King Express.
  11. I love writing ‘thank you’ letters. I’m a pretty grateful person. I also love picking out fun stationary and/or cards.
  12. I love myself & I’m totally lovable! This took me a long assed time to know this with every fiber of my being.
  13. I unabashedly love comedy. My last manager told me to stop doing comedy. So for a year I STOPPED and I couldn’t have been more miserable. We recently parted ways and I feel G R E A T. Lesson learned: Never give your power over to someone else.
  14. I ALWAYS question authority. According to author, Gretchen Rubin, I am a rebel. THAT SAID, I also am suspicious of Gretchin’s quiz and believe putting people in neat boxes is convenient but dangerous (ha ha, total REBEL quality).
  15. My family is THE most important thing to me. I was not raised in a very ideal family (who was?) and it took me a while to feel confident in my loving, normal family.
  16. I can understand a TINY bit of Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Greek & French. But very little. I also think the Russian language is beautiful (which I had to learn for a recurring role on Madame Secretary).
  17. I love Scotland! This country holds a very special place in my heart mostly due to my grandparents and the very loving friends I have there, especially Dumfries! (I do not speak or understand Gaelic…yet.)
  18. I attended multiple Buddhist meditation retreats (in NYC and Wales) where I learned about the following Koans:
    “What is this?”
    “Who are you?”
    “What was your mother’s face before you were born?”
  19. FAVORITE PASTIME: I really love making people in an elevator laugh. It’s a challenge because it’s a very short snippet of time and I can usually make it happen.
  20. I speak my mind at ALL times.
  21. I’m OBSESSED with pens, pencils & paper. Kinokunoya & JetPens are my favorite places to get pens.
  22. I really really really wish I could surf & skateboard like a boss.
  23. I believe in abundance, inclusivity and love.
  24. I LOVE Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, hip-hop, R&B (mostly 90’s)
  25. NAPS are MY LIFEBLOOD. Some might call them siestas. Whatever you call them, I relish any opportunity to take a snoozy.

xo,


Natalie

Be the Same in Private as You Are in Public

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Today my girl has a playdate at our apartment and we went to pick up some snacks:

  • Ice pops (yes, in the winter)
  • Tings (2 bags)
  • 2 Organic Apples
  • Popcorn with a touch of butter. (Paul Newman)

As I went to the register, I spotted the usual clerk, a young woman wearing a navy blue hijab.

An older, white gentleman cuts in front of me and normally I’d speak up—but I let it go because he’s older and has just two items to buy.

With an accent, the clerk tells him says: “$11.58”.

“What did you say?” the gentleman asks imperiously. The young clerk remains silent. He turns to a young black woman with wavy long hair who is working at another counter: “What did she say? I can’t understand her!” He seems to enjoy the spectacle he’s creating.

I said: “She said ‘$11.58’ (line cutter!) Just ask her what she said.”

He ignored me and continued to speak loudly to the other cashier: “I can’t understand her! Do you work here?”

I looked at his face and suddenly a memory sprouted up. I thought to myself: “That face, that name, I know who that is…” 

I asked him, “Wait are you on TV?”

He stopped and gave me a strange look, almost a smirk. Half happy to be recognized and half in terror for being caught for behaving like a bully.

He asked: “Why are you? Are you?”

I said: “Nope.”

I knew exactly who he was. I remembered seeing him on TV reviewing Charlyne Yi’s gorgeous movie, Paper Hearts. He was a critic and the way he panned the movie made me think he was a bitter, old dude who didn’t understand the movie, nor tried to understand it and therefore he dismissed it.

Of course, he is a critic.

Back to present time in the grocery store.

This turned to the young woman wearing a hijab.

“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t understand you.” He weakly apologized, took his bag and left.

I felt a little bad for calling him out and wondered if he was just having a bad day.

The young woman began ringing my snacks up and looked wearily in his direction:

“He does this all the time.”

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Let’s Fight and Let’s Be Happy.

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I am sitting in my bed which is about to break. The bed frame is buckling and I need to adult hard and buy a new one. As I rolled around my bed last night, I worried the whole thing would come crashing down.

I was too tired to get up and take action, but I did crack a joke with my husband that we will wake up V shaped.

Right now the reality is what you make of it. Right here right now. Not they way you WANT it to be, but what it is now.

Me, sitting in my pajamas, sitting on top of my broken bed and …I am thankful for the broken bed. I’m thankful for it’s service and it’s pretty clear we need to move on. It’s not a pain in the ass, it’s a privilege to 1. have a bed, 2. have the resources to buy a new bed frame.

I’m not writing this to sound like a know it all. I’m writing this to myself so when the world seems shite, I can read this and remind myself that we are responsible for our reality.