Ketchup Cut: Fleabag mastered the art of black comedy with finesse

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Smrithi Mohan
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Fleabag


For today's Ketchup Cut, we discuss one of the many amazing scenes from the award-winning show, Fleabag where Kristin Scott Thomas gives a chilling speech.

Comedy is something that people enjoy but also know how difficult it is to pull off. It takes a talented storyteller to use comedy as a medium to talk about issues that are otherwise considered dark and serious. Every time someone attempts black comedy, they either nail it or ruin it completely. But one show that was able to sweep us off the floor with how incredibly well written and characterized it is, is Fleabag. And in today's Ketchup Cut, we discuss one of the many amazing scenes from the show.

About the show:

Directed by – Harry Bradbeer

Written and Created By – Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Cast – Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Andrew Scott, Olivia Colman

Genre – Comedy-drama, Black comedy, Cringe comedy

Where to watch – Amazon Prime Video

A dry-witted woman, known only as Fleabag, has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy. The angry, grief-riddled woman tries to heal while rejecting anyone who tries to help her, but Fleabag continues to keep up her bravado through it all.

Ketchup Cut:

The scene in discussion has to be one of those be lovingly admired scenes where women feel like they have been heard. It holds the hearts of the thousands of women going through menopause or who have been just been through the classic 'woman in a man's world' phase. It's not easy for anyone to pick one favorite scene from the show because of how well Phoebe Waller-Bridge does her job, but this scene between Fleabag and Belinda (Kristin Scott Thomas) has a separate fanbase.

Like a thousand other things that we aren't allowed or don't dare to talk about when it comes to women, menopause is always hushed and ignored by the world like it never exists. And like many things that the show dared to talk about, the conversation around menopause was everything. Let's just start by saying it was not forced into the script, it feels completely natural as a conversation that we know could happen with our central character. Belinda refers to the whole phase of menopause as 'horrendous but then it's magnificent, that means you look forward to,' and after hearing her speech, we couldn't agree more.

It's all about spilling the truth and as women who struggle with their own bodies, it just makes sense. All the period pain, sore boobs, childbirth, or as Belina puts it 'physical destiny' of a woman comes to an end with menopause. And even though she agrees on the struggles of going through the phase, she also highlights the freedom that comes with it. She reckons that our bodies stop being a slave to every physical, biological aspect that a woman is expected to fulfill, setting us free of the notion. Her stating that 'it only helps women start a life where they become a woman who is looked at beyond their biology' happens to be a harsh truth that has always existed. She also emphasizes on how she was crowned the best 'woman' in business, rather than being the best in business across genders. It only confirms her point of women becoming worthy or best at an age where they're no longer expected to do anything besides doing well at work.

Another refreshing element of the whole conversation is how the show casually acknowledges that Fleabag is bisexual with her simple "not strictly" comment. We have seen shows take such moments involving two attractive women and lead them into a love scene because they're gay. Assuming that because the two are attracted to the same gender, they can and may sleep together. But when Fleagbag kisses Belina, she stops her, pointing out that she isn't her type. Another reason to love the show is that everyone "can't be assed, darling". The scene should pan out to every storyteller that every gay person is not another gay persons' type and hence it shouldn't be assumed that when two are in a scene they may end up together.

Fun Facts:

Isobel Waller-Bridge, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's sister has composed the music for both series.

The show is an adaptation of Waller-Bridge's one-woman play from the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe of the same name.

The one-woman show won a Fringe First Award.

Phoebe got the initial idea of the character from a challenge by a friend, where Waller-Bridge was asked to create a sketch for a 10-minute section in a stand-up storytelling night.

Awards and Recognitions:

  • Primetime Emmy Awards: Won Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
  • Critics' Choice Television Awards: Nominated for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress in a Comedy Series
  • Bristish Academy Television Awards: Nominated for Best Scripted Comedy, won Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme
  • British Academy Television Craft Awards: Nominated for Best Editing: Fiction, Best Writer: Comedy, Breakthrough Talent Award
  • Broadcasting Press Guild Awards: Won Best Writer
  • Golden Globe Award: Won Best Television Series and Best Actress. Nominated Best Supporting Actor.

Also Read - Ketchup Cut: Pieces of a woman, celebrating life while capturing the grief of loss

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