Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s presentation of feminism is sensational, both Fleabag and Killing Eve are sophisticated works of art. They’re funny, emotional and moving. But they also dissolve stigma around sexual liberation. The presentation of female sexuality and agency in both Killing Eve and Fleabag is a welcome breath of fresh air. Debunking myths surrounding sexuality and sex through television is accessible and much needed. The sexual liberation that both Villanelle and Eve holding Killing Eve was exciting to witness, the love hate relationship was presented ell on screen
Phoebe Waller Bridge’s portrayal of the main character in Fleabag is thrilling. We love to hate her, but we love to love her too. She’s a dysfunctional chaotic mess – and she’s on screen again with a second series recently announced.
Although the majority of the main character’s life is laid out for the audience to see, we never fins out her name. Does she have one? Or is she simply known as ‘Fleabag’? It’s a frustrating element to the show, she’s only ever referred to as ‘you’, ‘her’ or ‘she’. Apparently, this move was on purpose, Phoebe Waller-Bridge created and played the character. Her lack of name is meant to emphasis her characteristics and show that she is in fact just a fleabag. However, when looking at the show through a feminist lens, the lack of name could portray that women in society are often given a lack of identity. That women who are expressive of their sexuality are often labelled. These labels are often, ‘whore’ or ‘slut’, but in this series case, she is deemed a ‘fleabag’.
The identity that both Fleabag and Villanelle are presented with initially is chipped away at throughout their series. Like Fleabag, Villanelle is given a name. The character of Eve Polastri, an MI5 officer gives the assassin her name after she receives some perfume from her. We find out later that Villanelle’s real name is Oksana. And with this, we gain a new sense of vulnerability about the character. We learn about her past, what turned her into the skilled killer that she is now. The obsession that Villanelle develops over Eve is no surprise, assassins have to track and become fixated with their assignments, however the obsession developed floated into an infatuation. What was more surprising that the obsession is reciprocated by Eve. In the last episode of the series, Eve is clearly emotional when entering Villanelle’s apartment. This could be because this is the truest and most vulnerable representation of Villanelle that she gains.
Killing Eve as a show is heavily erotic. The assassin is sociopathic, sexual and (for the most part) cold-hearted. The show is aesthetically flawless. Exotic locations, designer clothes and fabulous perfume. It’s easy to become absorbed into the fictional world created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Villanelle oozes femininity and sexuality. But this is also layered up with aggression and strength that creates the image of a women untouched by patriarchal oppression. It is refreshing to watch a series with real representation of women and sexuality. Not everyone sticks to the binaries that society places upon us. The show uses tension to convey sexual chemistry between Eve and Villanelle. Although the show could be accused of queerbaiting, Eve’s sexual identity has never been explicit, and the pair haven’t engaged in a physical relationship and perhaps they never will. However, it is clear that their relationship is full of lust. The second series will hopefully be packed with lust, tension and most definitely will be considered revolutionary.
Both Fleabag and Killing Eve are shows that are quite unlike anything you may have ever seen before. You have no idea where the character’s sexuality is being taken, and hopefully both of their second series will further debunk the restrictions that patriarchal society has placed upon television and the representation of queer and female sexuality. We should all be very very excited for what is to come.