How Fleabag’s Dead Mum Saves the Day in Season 2
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 also beautiful, funny and beloved by all 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.
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 the episode is 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 drove the Godmother her to create it? To empower herself and diminish the mother’s presence in her mind? Or is the statue a tribute of love to her friend, and a token of gratitude for the new family she has acquired? While the statue is small 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.
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 is 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.
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.
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