The Complicity of Audience in Fleabag Series 2, Episode 2

I called Fleabag series 1, what if Girls was as good as The Wire. Fleabag series 2's first episode on BBC 1/Three surpassed that, a dinner party that beat the best of Leigh, Bleasdale and Potter. Quite simply this may be the best TV drama in the history of the medium. That it revolves around the insecurities of an overprivileged, white middle/upper class Londoner with seemingly very little to say to anyone, is even more of a triumph. Who cares? Fleabag makes us care.

There were three points in yesterday's second episode which brought new life to the Fleabag technique of the lead character talking to the audience that makes House Of Cards like kiddies' TV. The first, in her therapy session, when asked about friends, at first she says she doesn't have any, flashes back to the one friend from the first series, no longer with us, and then flashes us a look and a wink, telling her therapist – and us – that she has lots of friends. And we realise that we are her friends. Fleabag's TV audience, us, are complicit in the destruction and loneliness of her character. We're told that we are always there. We are always there. It's ridiculously scary.

The second (embedded below) is when she's about to say something inappropriate to the priest she fancies, and she gives us the run-up commentary about how she really shouldn't say it, and it would be a bad idea and the stream between the different identities and audiences bounces fast and furious from one state to the next, it is a glittering performance from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, leaving us exhausted just to witness it.

And the third, later, after talking to the priest, leaving him, and smiling to herself, she suddenly remembers that us, her friends are watching us, a glance to us, and she drops the smile, embarassed that we have caught her out. Because that would never do, she's not allowed to be happy, not really. And we're not her friends. She might smile in front of her friends.

It's all our fault for watching. And we can't help ourselves.

Add to all this the relationship with her sister, fraughts but always sisters, surviving her step-mother who is so wicked that no one would ever suspect she is, and a priest who doesn't know what he's let himself in for – save that he knows that's what he's done, and you have the second best half hour of television this year, and that's only because the first best was last week's episode with 'get your hands off my miscarriage' being the quoted line I have heard everywhere.

Fleabag is the best television you have ever watched. I can prove it with graphs.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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