30 July 2016 | mikem764
Quirky, interesting and very funny comedy
It's somewhat ironic that BBC3 is making some of its best material after going online only. After the truly brilliant dark drama Thirteen comes this comedy which is fresh, perfectly pitched, original and very, very funny. At first glance it appears to be yet another comedy about modern people battling sexual mores in contemporary London, but what makes it different is that it's told exclusively from the point of view of a woman, Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Usually, in Richard Curtis comedies for example the women are posh, well behaved and bland beyond belief. Here she is the opposite - she is sexually voracious, very badly behaved, has an ongoing battle with her 'perfect' sister and a terrible relationship with her father (the great Bill Paterson). She does everything we never see on screen women normally doing - primarily masturbating, including in one hilarious scene over Barack Obama. She is also hopeless at her job, running a terrible cafe (a real caff in Tufnell Park no less) which has a permanently escaping guinea pig in its midst. She also appears to be making up her prices, blaming 'London' for her £25 tomato sarnies.
What makes the show is the clever writing but also the performance of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Constantly taking to the camera has a Peep Show quality, where we get to hear what she really thinks of someone before hearing what she actually says to them - two very different things. She can do amazing things with those actor's friends, the raised eyebrow, the tiny grin, the upturned lip, the innocent wide-eyed look. Crucially she has charm in spades, without it the show would become a Peep Show with women instead of men, a sort of Women Behaving Badly.
Throw in some true comedy greats like Hugh Dennis and the sublime Olivia Colman as the evil stepmother and it's an absolute treat. There are sings that the show will turn darker later in the series - there is a dead business partner for starters - but for now it's genuinely funny stuff.