Privilege Blog

An Unpopular Opinion Of The Sturdy Gal, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:54am

This morning I offer you an alternative to the highly-praised television series, Fleabag, that I myself, Lisa Carnochan, did not particularly like. May I direct you to GameFace on Hulu?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag

Both shows were written by and star young(ish) British actresses, Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, and Roisin Conaty in GameFace. Both stories follow witty, even brilliant women with impulse control problems. Fleabag tends dark, GameFace to the sunny.

Roisin Conaty in GameFace

I have thought and thought about why I prefer GameFace. In the end, Conaty’s character, Marcella, is just plain nicer to the people she loves. Waller-Bridge’s eponymous “Fleabag” hurts too many people’s feelings, and yet remains irresistible to all. This is a particularly Sturdy reaction. Sturdy Gals truly believe that no matter what falls down around us we must care for those we love or be deeply shamed. We object when the glamorously neurotic emerge from fires of their own creation, unscathed and yet beloved.

And I do realize that there’s a deeper analysis to be done about the different impact these stories make, given the different physical presences of the two stars. I will leave that to you thoughtful readers.

And with that, the Sturdy Gal will go make another cup of tea and think about tidying up the piles of paper on her floor, left there by yet another urgent request for her mother’s documents. Then she will use her mass transit card responsibly and handle an errand. Then she will make sure that everyone she loves, or as many as might need a check-in, are A-OK. Then, with any luck, she’ll have enough energy left over to get down from her high horse.

Have a wonderful weekend.

33 Responses

  1. I’m cracking up because I thought I was the only one who didn’t like Fleabag much. I watched three episodes after the Emmy’s haul, but she’s so mean.
    I’ll try GameFace.

    I’m on a high horse right now too about other stuff and don’t see me dismounting any time soon.

    1. @KSL, An image comes to mind, riding high horses in spangles, leaping eventually to trapezes:). I like it. I like it very much.

  2. Neither show has yet become available on Netflix here, although I see that I could purchase Fleabag on iTunes. . . so I can’t comment although I heartily subscribe to your Sturdy Gal disapproval of those who hurt others at no apparent personal cost and without clear apology or attempt at mitigation/reconciliation.

    I’m off to watch an Almost-Seven’s flamenco class, though, so all is quite right in my world and I suspect/hope that by the time you dismount from your high horse, having looked after your loved ones (and the planet — yay, mass transit! ;-), all will be good in yours — all the better for your equestrian efforts ;-)
    Happy Weekend,
    xo, f

    1. @Frances, If the entire world could take a morning at an Almost-Seven’s flamenco class I am sure it would be a better place.

      Mass transit can be loud, but it’s so much better than wrestling with thousands of other people cursing at their internal combustion engines;).

  3. Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of women who are forgiven everything because they are beautiful. I like shows about competent women that aren’t about men, like Rizzoli and Isles and The Closer.

  4. It took me a while to get into Fleabag, but then I really started liking it – especially the second season, where her character seems more vulnerable and is more understandable. Part of what I like about it is that the lead character is not beautiful but is nevertheless seen as desirable. But I can see how opinions can differ about the show. I will have to add GameFace to my list of programs to watch.

    1. @MJ, I knew that hearing everyone’s responses here would be interesting. Part of my reaction comes from finding PWB so beautiful, and feeling that she gets a pass because of it. I also suspect I may have done the show a slight disservice and not given it a chance. I almost never rewatch anything, but for this I might make an exception.

  5. I started watching “Fleabag” which was witty and sometimes funny, but I wasn’t crazy about it and didn’t finish season 1. I’ll try you Hulu option.

    BTW, have you watched the new season of “Goliath?” The second season had some images I found difficult to un-see and if the new season as distasteful I won’t tune in.

    1. @Roseg, GameFace made me laugh out loud. Of course this post and the comments are reminding me just how subjective our responses are, even to generally recognized excellence.

      I watched the first season of Goliath and I don’t remember why I didn’t keep going…

  6. Never seen either. Neither have appealed. I’m not sure why but I do struggle with TV programmes about women who just can’t seem to sort themselves out and who perpetually create chaos. I tried an episode of Motherland but found it trite and indulgent – people with perfectly decent lives, opportunities, educations, families but who are hopeless in every single department of their existences. No wonder I like Gardeners’ World.

    1. @Annie Green, The term “indulgent” defines everything that makes a Sturdy Gal uncomfortable. Although, let me be the first admit, I indulge myself with regularity. But then I construct a framework by which I can deserve it.

      Gardener’s World…previously unknown to me. I watch Queer Eye for my belief in humanity:).

  7. Haven’t seen these as we have no cable, get many more channels than we need with a roof antenna…I, too, like
    Rizzoli and Isles, the Closer, Major Crimes, all with strong female subjects.

    Have you seen PBS’s new “The Durrells of Corfu”? It’s about a lovely, kind mother of a brood of mostly grown kids. I am looking forward to another new season with Brenda Blethin, “Vera”.

    I agree with being “nice” as I torture myself with regrets when I give in to being catty.

    1. @Joan, “The Durrells” is so perfect for right before bed, Claire Foy is lovely, the island is beautiful, the attitude towards humanity so kind.

      I am sorry you feel such strong regrets. I imagine you’ve never really said anything all that bad. xoxox.

  8. We just couldn’t get into Fleabag either. I’m at a point where I just can’t with mean people as entertainment. There’s just too much of it IRL. I’ll check out your suggestion!

  9. I loved Fleabag. It did take a couple episodes and I liked the second season better. I see her more flawed and conflicted than mean. Thanks for the other suggestion.

    1. @Susan A, Yes, you are in very good company, that’s exactly how the show has been received, and I’m reflecting now on what makes a character’s specific flaws resonate with one viewer and not with another.

  10. As we discussed on Twitter yesterday, I adored Fleabag. I’d like to watch it again, because when I was watching the second season, I didn’t know there wouldn’t be a third. Part of my love is Woman Created Program Succeeds, but most is simply that I thought it was an extraordinary offering. I didn’t find Phoebe Waller Bridge’s character mean, I found her choosing a protective reaction to a series of terrible wounds. I felt her dead friend, and the rabbit, served to show her underlying goodness. But, as I also said yesterday, I sometimes give too much credit to the wrong person or people, and then am disappointed, so… It’s interesting that I had this reaction when in my own life, whether personal or professional, I’m the caretaker of others. For example, I was my mother’s caretaker, and then I was the person in charge or her memorials and her estate after she died, as you did and are doing now. Sometimes that was very hard; sometimes it’s still very hard. Now I’ll look at GameFace, which I anticipate liking as well, as I did Russian Doll, as another example of Woman Created Program Succeeds. (I’ve been vacillating about keeping my Hulu and Netflix subscriptions, because I’ve been working on returning to reading instead of watching, which means Hulu and Netflix are getting cobwebby. It’ll be nice to use Hulu.)

    1. @Katherine C. James, Hi Katherine, I totally agree with you, I don’t think she’s mean either. She’s dealing with so much pain – dead mother and best friend, a narcissistic Step Mother, being treated as the family scapegoat – it’s no wonder she behaves like she does. If someone doesn’t enjoy the show then fair play to them, but to call her mean is to completely miss the point, and the genius of the show.

    2. @Katherine C. James, I did think of our conversation. Just didn’t want to call you out here per se without permission. You may not like GameFace, it’s painted in much broader strokes, the intelligence is in the dialogue rather than the narrative structure.

      And @Caz, I absolutely experienced the genius of the show. I think I’d say though that the point missed me, missed my emotional center. Which is just so interesting, the way we respond to art/characters we recognize as great, liking it/them or not.

      I didn’t think PWB thought Fleabag was mean, but she lit up the neurons and chemical flood that respond to perceived “meanness” in my heart.

  11. Oh Lisa, I can’t comment on either show but I can tell you that the paperwork you describe comes in waves. I took great pride in the job by being kind and sharing my father’s resources equally. I found it a deeply meaningful project.
    I am also low on energy this week and wondering if its aging or just the ups and downs of life.


    1. @luci, Dear Luci, I was so touched by your comment, I had to respond. I have not watched either of these shows and am not likely to either, but your words about managing your father’s estate and being tired, touched me. I lost my mother in 2003. I was not the executor, thank goodness. But the tiredness. My personal opinion is that, as we mature, we need to manage our energy reserves wisely and carefully, and look after ourselves, so that we can continue to look after our homes and others. I had a major surgery 4 weeks ago and am making sure I have an afternoon nap or at least lay down with feet up, every day. Sometimes we are just tired from the daily slings and arrows. It’s a busy, complicated and overwhelming world we live in. Blessings Xxxx
      Ps, I love this community, you are all great gals. And I will sit astride my high-horse for a while longer, since, with maturity and age, I feel I have earned the right!

  12. OK – I do think that Fleabag is genius, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was mesmerized. It was fodder for great convo. But Lord, there was too much fucking damage going on. Do I really need to add to the stressful things in my life :-) I haven’t seen the other show – I don’t believe it’s available here yet. I will watch it though. And I imagine I’ll agree with you!

  13. Also didn’t like Fleabag. Couldn’t bring myself to watch Breaking Bad and didn’t care for Weeds after the first season. I’m just not into unlikable protagonists (exception made for House.)

  14. Oh, god, I adored Fleabag in a way I haven’t loved a show since—Happy Valley. So different yet so compelling. I will check out GameFace possibly, if I can justify subscribing to yet another monthly channel. But Fleabag is my jam for sure.

  15. I have not watched any episodes. That said, the mean girl minority exists, regardless of age. I generally find they are compensating for something. I don’t know what and I choose to have no time for them or their drama. Like you, I prefer nice people.

  16. Game face was just unexpectedly brilliant. I couldn’t agree more with what you said.

  17. Dear TJ,
    Thank-you for your support on a day where I really needed it. I am hoping that you continue to heal from your surgery. All great things for you!


  18. Early in our courtship, my then-girlfriend-now-wife, upon hearing my pronouncements from high in the saddle, would offer a small “neeeiiiiigh.” It never failed to make me laugh which pricked the bubble of my pomposity and/or certainty.

  19. I must watch GameFace now!! I loved Fleabag. HOWEVER: I found myself identifying with almost every character except the protagonist. In particular, her elder sister– it spun me into a little bit of a crisis, wondering if my younger siblings see me in that way.

    The second season brought Fleabag into maturity for me and solidified my love. Something about that priest– and Fleabag’s grief for her mother and for Boo.

  20. I just tried to watch GameFace last night, but the first image of her, asleep at the children’s party, looking like a drunk slob (and I admit maybe that wasn’t the case & she had a decent reason for being asleep), just turned me off so much I couldn’t watch any more!

    I find that these days I have to be attracted to characters immediately. Life is too short.

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