If uphill sprinting through a tide of treacle was an Olympic sport, I’d like to pin my money on Fleabag and Rob Brooks taking joint gold. The finish line simply means end destination but endurance of that sticky, uncomfortable and completely unsexy race, is often the real test that not all can sustain.
Rob Brooks is the reimagined central character of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel, and subsequent film, High Fidelity. In her new contemporary setting Rob is grappling with heartbreak as she watches another love of her life walk out the door, we meet her crying in the corner of her apartment and see the immediate impulsive aftermath, better known as the rebound. The other one; the savvy, sex addicted modern female about town is Fleabag, who in typical fashion we meet as she’s in the midst of shagging her way around the issue of grief.
Something amazing occurred when both these characters turned up, they depicted women who were immediately vulnerable and with real relatable issues. Vulnerable isn’t a dirty word by the way, it simply means one is human and one has days they hate where life decides to change its course. These characters are young progressive women who at the moment we meet them, don’t have their lives in check.
Both Rob and Fleabag break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience, almost like a kind of talking therapy there’s a processing of thoughts out loud that not even those in their closest circles are privy to.
Fleabag; eternally void of any filter, shares with us on impulse, her asides are often hilarious and totally inappropriate, more than this she seems completely comfortable in her own skin, which is maybe why she shares with us so readily. Aside from the sex addiction and mischief, she’s human, and dealing with the consequences of her ill thought out choices, we don’t hate her or even dislike her because she’s only ever been herself, which means she’s been honest.
In New York with Ms. Rob Brooks, the owner of a struggling record store; she’s this edgy tangible human, hopelessly romantic and the soul of a tortured artist in her private alone time, whose life is a live soundtrack, she’s the thief who uses the poetry of her favourite musicians to express how she feels, as she tells us. She’s compulsive with analysing her thoughts and she’s comfortable to share that process with us. A character flawed and wonderful at the same time, and like Fleabag, has never pretended not to be.
In these private moments, we learn that they are layered and multifaceted people, and that there are other women out there with messy and chaotic lives, like us, just trying to get by. Before the woman becomes master of all, it’s nice to be reminded of the steps taken to get to that place. Rob and Fleabag tell us of that truth, and they also remind us, that a real imperfect woman is worth her weight in gold.