Fleabag Era is taking over TikTok. The trend is based on the hit UK show, “Fleabag” – making light of women being a mess. And the show provides the aesthetic that the Fleabag Era trend celebrates, encouraging a new and unusual form of feminism.

Credit: Dazed

TikTok’s young ladies are embracing self-destruction and cavalier fatalism. Is this all a jest or a warning sign of something more serious?

Phoebe Mary Waller-Bridge is an English actress and screenwriter. She is most well-known as the creator and star of “Fleabag”, based on her one-woman show of the same name.

Emmeline Clein created the phrase “dissociation feminism” in 2019 to describe to a burgeoning voice in pop culture – an oversharing-from-a-distance method of communication employed mostly by women while retelling their sad life experiences. Think – Rue from “Euphoria”.

Credit: Mashable

“For me, the ‘dissociative feminist’ is the archetypal cool girl,” says Ione Gamble, editor-in-chief of Polyester, who discussed dissociative feminism in a recent podcast episode.

“She’s a bit messy without trying, doesn’t give a fuck about anything, very dejected about the world and apathetic about her future. But also, on the flipside, very aware of her emotions. I don’t think we’d be seeing these TikToks if there wasn’t a certain amount of self-awareness there.”

But does it accurately reflect what the show is actually about?  Or does it sensationalise a character who only exists to point out flaws? The point is not to provide an idealised way of life. So we are going to have a rewatch the iconic British show and see if it translates, now.

What Can We Learn from that First Episode

Credit: Film School Rejects

The first episode of Season One introduces us to our protagonist known as Fleabag, a British woman in her early thirties or late twenties who is awkward, messy and filled with amazing comedic timing and pacing. Our first introduction to Fleabag is watching her get absolutely railed by the hottest man I’ve truly ever seen all while breaking the fourth wall and detailing the experience to us.

Throughout the episode, we’re introduced to the main characters of this season and the main plot. Firstly, we are introduced to the hot guy that Fleabag lovingly refers to as ‘Fucked me up the ass’. Next, to the big teeth guy from the bus who just keeps showing up. And then to Fleabag’s Ex- Boyfriend Harry, who broke up with her when he caught her masturbating to Obama.

And Then…?

Credit: British Comedy Guide

Fleabag also explores the struggles that young people face with money. Also, the idea of not being able to reach out to anyone, including family members. Big tension exists between Fleabag and her sister Claire. Their relationship is tense and distant and claire is more grown up and uptight which juxtaposes Fleabag’s messy and goofy persona. Another point of contention is between the girls, their dad and their godmother.

Disassociative Tendencies

Credit: Bristol University Feminist Society Magazine

While “Fleabag” season one is shamelessly and forcefully dark, the show’s second season takes a swing towards the upbeat, bordering on touching at times. Throughout the series, Fleabag takes the path of self-work and improvement. And fans don’t expect our grief-stricken, substance-abusing heroine to change.

She emotionally supports her sister, encourages her café clients to talk with one another, and enters into a complicated, personal relationship with the renowned hot priest. As the first romantic interest we’ve seen genuinely get to know Fleabag, he also becomes the only one who observes and even calls her out on her dissociative tendencies. Fleabag shows vulnerability and, eventually, painfully, in touch with her feelings.

Although identifying with women like Fleabag might be lacking in depth, the desire to do so makes sense. While it’s part of a larger aesthetic trend, the development of the unhinged female protagonist is not entirely negative. At the very least, it demonstrates a societal shift: women aren’t just upset about their circumstances; they want vengeance.

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