You can call Fleabag many things. It’s a show about sisters; a show about depression; a show about coping with grief; a show about self-acceptance; a show about celebrating female rage; a show starring a very hot priest. What it isn’t, however, is “a comedy about a sex addict.”
And yet, it was with that very reductive moniker that Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece, nominated for 11 Emmys, was introduced during Ben Stiller’s preamble to the awards for comedy.
Does the character Fleabag (Waller-Bridge) have sex? Yes, and lots of it! Does she struggle with emotional intimacy and sometimes use sex to fill that void? Absolutely! But to call a show that touches on issues that women so rarely get to see explored on-screen is to completely miss the point.
It was a truly cringe-worthy moment, and one that Twitter was quick to pick up on.
Fleabag is as much a show about a sex addict as it is about a fish riding a bicycle— rachel syme (@rachsyme) September 23, 2019
I have less hope for Fleabag winning anything than I already did if the #Emmys think it's "a show about a sex addict"— Caroline Darya Framke (@carolineframke) September 23, 2019
did ben stiller just say that FLEABAG is a "comedy about a sex addict"? lol what.— lindsey romain (@lindseyromain) September 23, 2019
I realize this is a comedy segment, but "'Fleabag,' a comedy about a sex addict'????" NO. pic.twitter.com/MD5WhdVwcP— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) September 23, 2019
Those kinds of comments by men in a public forum are exactly why we need shows like Fleabag. And in fact, Waller-Bridge proved just that when she won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series just minutes later. In her words, 2019 is the year "a dirty, pervy, messed up woman can make it to the Emmys."
Fleabag would go on to win Emmys for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and Outstanding Comedy Series.
Amen to that.