Amazon has ordered a sexually explicit feminist comedy-drama from the UK. Currently filming in London, Fleabag will air this fall on Prime Instant Video. The six-episode BBC co-production is based on an acclaimed 2013 Edinburgh Fringe monologue of the same name by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also takes the TV title role. Brett Gelman co-stars alongside Flowers’ Olivia Colman, Hugh Dennis, best known for panel show Mock The Week in the UK and Outlander’s Bill Patterson.
Fleabag is described as a “dry-witted, angry, cash-strapped, grief-riddled, porn-watching young woman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy… sleeping with anyone who dares to stand too close, squeezing money from wherever she can, rejecting anyone who tries to help her, and keeping up her bravado throughout.”
Gelman’s character, Martin, is an alcoholic antiques dealer married to Fleabag’s sister and “one of those men who is explosively, sexually inappropriate with everyone, but makes you feel bad if you take offence because he was ‘just being FUN’” says Waller-Bridge. “He is bored and over-sexed and likes making people slightly uncomfortable.”
“His low self-esteem manifests in being bullish and uncomfortably flirtatious with people, particularly Fleabag: What was once his just-about-charming habit for dropping innuendo has now escalated into baldly offending and borderline assaulting women for attention.”
“The trick to making the character fly was finding someone with enough charisma and charm to be able to pull of playing total asshole while simultaneously making him lovable and flawed and real.”
The order for Fleabag, which is directed by Harry Bradbeer and produced by Lydia Hampson for Two Brothers Pictures, follows the success of another sexually frank import, Catastrophe, from the UK’s Channel 4, the same channel that broadcast Waller-Bridge’s comedy writing debut earlier this year, Crashing.
Gelman’s involvement in Fleabag confirms a prolific period in the comic’s career, following the announcement of his Dinner in America special for Adult Swim two days ago and his guest role in the second season of Patrick Stewart’s Blunt Talk.
The Fleabag character “came from a frustration and a rage about the objectification of women” Waller-Bridge told London’s Evening Standard in 2013. “It’s tiresome and exhausting to be surrounded by it.
“It’s so drilled into her brain that she sexualizes everything – herself, her friends, her food, her job – and she uses internet porn all the time. She’s got to the point where she believes that sex defines her completely. People may recoil in horror at some of the things she says, and think she’s repulsive, but I understand her and I think other women can relate to her. There’s a vulnerability that I hope people can see.”