One of the results of coming of age in the late-aughts or 2010s is that while Mumford-ian guitar indie was still in full (unfortunate) swing, YouTube existed to capture all of our terrible teenage attempts to emulate it. Whomst amongst us didn’t croon “Little Talks” into a webcam in a shameful video, now buried somewhere in our online past? Or worse, make an acoustic version of a rap track?
That is why 24-year-old British actor Florence Pugh’s Youtube channel is so fascinating. In 2019, Pugh gave two of the year’s best film performances, in Midsommar and Little Women. But in 2013, she was just a teen with a dream and at least four chords memorized. This was the same year Shawn Mendes got his start doing acoustic covers on Vine, and only a few months after Lorde broke out with a self-released SoundCloud EP. And somewhere, maybe at home or maybe in her posh Oxford boarding school, a 17-year-old future awards-contender was posting earnest covers of “Wonderwall” and Jack Johnson in brilliant 240p.
Pugh’s mother is a dancer and her siblings are actors and musicians (her brother, Toby Sebastian, played Trystane Martell on Game of Thrones), so it’s not exactly surprising that she’d be interested in music. But watching her old videos sparks an uncanny response: We recognize Pugh as a movie star on the rise with impeccable taste in projects, a real dramatic acuity, and a face so expressive and emotionally versatile it should qualify for Best Visual Effects. And yet here she is, sincere, experimenting with eyeliner, and just a tiny bit basic.
Pugh’s channel dates back to 2012, but it looks as though her earliest videos consist of six musical recordings that she posted on March 11, 2013. Even better than hearing her poetic high school–era lyrics is learning that the stage name she was trying to make happen at the time was … Flossie Rose.
Flossie Rose! It sounds like something out of a British version of Schitt’s Creek, when Alexis Rose revealed her pop-star wannabe past. Or maybe it’s closer to Robin Sparkles, the teen pop-star alter ego of Cobie Smulders’s character on How I Met Your Mother. But where those are fictions parodying pop trends of the aughts and ’80s, respectively, Flossie Rose holds up a rearview mirror to our very recent (but already a little cringeworthy) past. Suddenly, it all makes sense, that Pugh was able to so deftly tap into playing Amy March in Little Women, the littlest of the women, precocious, brash, confident, romantic, artistic, and over-dramatic. If Little Women resonates due to some sort of fundamental truth about teenage girlhood, so does Flossie Rose, acting as a mid-2010s teenage period piece.
Remember sitting cross-legged on your bed with a guitar and straightening your hair for the webcam? Remember the Lumineers? Maybe you’re from a different micro-generation, and you were belting “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, or “The General” by Dispatch. Maybe you’re 44, like Florence Pugh’s boyfriend, Zach Braff, and your song was “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and your girlfriend wasn’t born yet and neither were commercial webcams. You made it out of this phase alive, and so did Flossie Rose. This channel is a testament to the fact that even movie stars and It Girls come from somewhere. We’re all only Pughman.
And then there’s Pugh’s mom’s YouTube channel, which has Flossie files from even earlier. Like this video from 2010 that’s been going around Film Twitter of Florence making her clear case for a future EGOT. Flossie? More like Fosse.
Or this recording from 2007, when Florence was Amy March–aged for real (and Zach Braff was 32). She’s honestly giving us baby Miley Cyrus, here.
The last video Pugh posted to her channel was in March 2016. Lady Macbeth would have its world premiere six months later. Florence Pugh as we knew her was introduced to the world, and Flossie Rose was no more.
It sort of makes it all the more beautiful that, spoiler alert, Florence and Timmy get together in the end of Little Women, because MC Timmy Tim is objectively the American teenage-boy analogue of Flossie Rose.
Anyway, here’s “Wonderwall.”