So, it feels like cheating to lump these two shows together. But if you give me half a second to explain, it makes sense, because despite their differences, there is a very strong connection. But first – what are these shows, and why should I care that you’re writing about them?
Fleabag is the story of … a young woman (not named?) who in this British series (so only 6 episodes total!) is basically a terrible person for a number of reasons. It’s a kind of hilarious, cringe-y show that makes you go “Oh My God! I can’t believe she’s doing that!” on a variety of occasions. Her relationship with her Dad is cringe-y. The way she relates to her sister is so weird. The way she tries to control her ex-boyfriend is next-level something. The way she treats everyone is just awful. That’s right – we have ourselves a unsympathetic female lead.
But at the same time, we watch the show and slowly, s l o w l y learn how she came to be in the predicament she’s in with her work and personal life. We watch her relationships and see that sometimes it’s not entirely her fault (her Godmother/Stepmother – played by brand-new Oscar-winner Olivia Colman! – is genuinely terrible). The final episode gives us both some redemption, and makes your jaw drop at the awfulness of it all. But by the way – it’s all a comedy, so you find yourself laughing at things in spite of it all.
So how does this connect to Killing Eve, the BBC America show about the hunt for an international assassin? It turns out, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, star and creator/writer for Fleabag ALSO developed Killing Eve for television from a book series, and wrote half the episodes (8 total, because it’s British-ish). So while the atmosphere is completely different, we still have a weird dark comedic sense that pervades the show.
Ok – so, international assassin. What’s it really about? Well, the show focuses on two ladies (and dang, there are a lot of awesome ladies in this show, so props for P W-B for writing great female parts!), and they are the titular Eve, an MI-5 officer who is obsessed with a mysterious assassin she believes exists and has been tracking, and Villanelle, the assassin who discovers that Eve is tracking her.
The show is great because while it could become a simple game of “find the assassin” / “cat and mouse”, it has this whole other element of “what if the cat and mouse became really interested in each other, to the point where maybe they weren’t running away/trying to eat the other? Terrible deeds are done, and yet Eve and Villanelle remain fascinated with each other. Sandra Oh has rightly won all kinds of awards for her role, but I’m surprised that Jodie Comer who plays Villanelle hasn’t gotten more attention for the way she transforms herself. Perhaps because it’s flashier and more fun to play the globe-trotting assassin?
Both are the kinds of show that keep you wondering and occasionally make your jaw drop. They’re both short shows, so you can get through them over the course of a week or so, or a weekend if you want to binge. And with both shows coming back for second seasons in 2019, now is the time to catch up.