Leave me alone about the title, I’m on no sleep. But also, the only other title that would be appropriate here is one you saw all over social media or your group chats last night: “PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE!!EEEEEEE!!!!”
Her sweep last night took us all so by surprise that it wasn’t until this morning that I fully processed the scope of what happened – with the exception of the Best Supporting categories, Fleabag swept the comedy Emmys completely: Best Writing, Best Direction, Best Lead Actress – and Best Comedy.
Those are huge categories! Obviously Barry and Atlanta have been similarly nominated recently, but they’ve shared the wealth between them, and even back in the days of dominance by Veep or 30 Rock or Modern Family, there was usually a bone thrown to some other show, even if it wasn’t the show you wanted to win.
So part of everyone’s elation today is the feeling of an unexpected win – it’s like Rudy, or The Mighty Ducks, or… why can’t I think of non-sports metaphors? Mostly it’s because, historically, comedies that are personal and female have been seen as niche – Broad City and Insecure and PEN15 haven’t received this amount of acclaim and attention; we’ve never had a show like this take such a massive stage.
…AND WE NEVER WILL IF YOU ALL DON’T START WATCHING! Seriously, I’m a bit scandalized by all the people coming out of the woodwork saying they just haven’t gotten around to Fleabag. I’m a bit floored, to be honest. Is it the name? Is it the fact that Amazon Prime is semi-complicated to figure out and you wind up debating whether you should add a can opener and some twinkle lights to your order while you’re on your way to watch? I get it, but truly not sure what’s holding people back! Furthermore, I’m not going to denigrate your entertainment choices, but I know for sure that there are millions of people who spend, like, six hours a night for three months watching fake people fake falling in love on a reality show – this is such a comparably tiny time investment! It’s two seasons of six half-hours each! I know for sure you can fit that in.
Why should you, though? I’ll tell you with this twofold dire warning:
Now that Fleabag has swept these big-deal Emmys, there will inevitably be a raft of imitations. I’m all for success floating all boats, especially if it gets more unique voices heard – but often what happens in these situations is a spate of derivative options, which will be both annoying and just not as enjoyable. Watch the original first, before the genre gets diluted and the wrong things emphasized, and suddenly it’s like, “No, she has sex with her boyfriend while trying to find a date on Tinder for her Mom! It’s Gilmore Girls meets Fleabag!” Shudder. I am not a crackpot, I am a prophet. Watch me.
Secondly – it should be obvious by now that Phoebe Waller-Bridge is extremely intelligent, talented (you know, of course, that she also created Killing Eve, right?) and, as if she wasn’t already before, about to be extremely in demand. All of which is wonderful – but she’s also the one who decided Fleabag would be done in just two seasons. She isn’t hanging on for years and years just for the money (after all, as she points out in one of the most resonant parts of her first acceptance speech, writing is way too painful to do it just for money).
She may not be around forever, or she may decide to turn her talents to writing a stage show again, or a musical, or for all we know, a kicky coffee table book about calculus theorems. There’s something about this one – she’s smart and savvy and extremely skilled at selling ideas to people who, on paper, don’t want them, but I also think there’s a world where she cares about her ideas too much to make them bad, and the day may come when she taps out, and you’ll have missed out altogether. That’s my dire Professor Trelawney of Television prediction, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
OH AND THIRDLY – in a time when women are still inexplicably having to explain and defend and elbow their way into being treated equally, as per Michelle Williams last night, anything that shows women as fully formed human beings is good for all of us. So the more you support it, and her, the more of that stuff gets made (because corporations see viewers as money), which ultimately benefits our society into understanding all kinds of things, not limited to the functioning of the female reproductive system. Yes, still. (Soapbox over.)
Where PWB is personally concerned, she was a delight all night, giggling in disbelief between awards with her boyfriend, playwright and screenwriter Martin McDonagh. She looked like she was having a ball, and given that The Jumpsuit was heard around the world before these Emmy wins were, she had a lot to live up to, and her Monique Lhuillier dress does that very PWB thing where she looks very stately and dignified, which allows her to wink at us and say she’s totally not.
One little PS before you all go and start your Fleabag homework, or else send me angry six-paragraph emails about why you won’t:
The dress. @WritingSpinster on Twitter said it reminded her of another celeb red carpet dress of yore, and I agree! She pointed out the similarities to Jennifer Lopez’s Oscar Dress from 2015, which are absolutely accurate, but I’m thinking of something more column-like, or at least not a full skirt: cream with maybe copper spiky sequins coming out from the waist? I thought it was a Renee Zellweger throwback, but I can’t support my point. I also have the idea that it might be an old Sarah Jessica Parker dress lodged in my memory somewhere. If you can lock down an idea of what I might be thinking of, send it over! I’ll be indebted to you. PWB, on the other hand, probably won’t care at all, which is as it should be.