Paolo Di Betta – Fleabag’s Ethical Investigations (2020)


Fleabag is a television series created and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars as the eponymous character. The television series was produced by Two Brothers Pictures and consists
of two seasons of six episodes, each lasting around 25 minutes; the first season (2016) was produced for BBC Three whilst the second season (2019) for BBC Three and for Amazon Studios.
Fleabag has conquered the heart of audiences all over the world, has received universal critical acclaim, has been presented with many accolades, and has been awarded several prizes.
I see Fleabag as a primer on ethics, a compendium of some relevant themes of moral philosophy. The two-season television series is steeped in with relevant questions concerning the identity of a young woman, with particular regard to what is a big part of that identity, namely, her moral integrity. Many themes and concepts in moral philosophy are dealt with in the show by the brilliant writing that characterizes it, not with resonating big words but with admirable levity and grace.
In Fleabag, I detected a peculiar interest in the role of sympathy, but most of all, in the role of the impartial spectator in our coming to terms with moral issues. I see the audience address, adopted extensively in the whole series, as a means to put the impartial spectator on stage.
Fleabag is a series that stimulates what ancient Romans called pietas, the capability not only of understanding human nature and its imperfections, but still like humanity regardless of its pitfalls, which is the way to accepting human fallibility and living life with less care to demeaning matters.
If in your opinion Fleabag is a lost soul beyond redemption, you will find the book a challenge to your perspective about her behavior. She is trying to uphold to a higher moral standard —in her messy, incoherent way, of course! If instead you position yourself on the opposite end of the moral evaluation spectrum, and in fact you absolve her of all of her sins, you will find in the book an attempt to articulate the reasons why it is not possible to defend her entirely, while at the same time still liking and caring for her.
One way or the other, if you miss Fleabag as much as I do, you’ll find here an occasion to spend some more time with her, while waiting for her glamorous return for a third season, whose release date is expected by the time of the Greek calends, when she will pop up on the screen arm in arm
with none other than Godot himself.