still from fleabag featuring Pheobe Waller Bridge in a church

Unanswered Questions and Hidden Meanings in Fleabag

One of the best things about a massively popular TV show like Fleabag is the fandom and community that is born out of it. And in these communities, theories about hidden meanings and ‘easter eggs’ abound. On our recent episode of The TV That Changed Me podcast, we shared our thoughts on some of the biggest questions that are left unanswered in Season Two of Fleabag with the wonderful hosts of Open House podcast. Now we’re diving even deeper. 

Hidden Meanings in Fleabag

What is Fleabag’s name?

Okay so this is an easy one- we don’t know! Phoebe Waller-Bridge has explained that she avoided naming the character to keep a sense of mystery. Instead Fleabag is often referred to as ‘you’ ‘she’ or ‘her.’ We can’t help thinking this actually makes us feel more acquainted with the character as we’re only privy to her nickname.

Why is Fleabag called Fleabag?

While Fleabag may not be the character’s real nickname in the show, Fleabag is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s nickname in real life. For anyone familiar with over-abbreviation of British posh girl names (we’re thinking Florence as Flossy, Philippa as Pip or whatever) Waller-Bridge’s family lovingly referring to her as Fleabag comes as no surprise.

What does the fox represent in Fleabag?

For eagle-eyed viewers (or anyone who takes pride in successfully completing English literature A-level) the references to foxes in Fleabag season 2 are hard to miss. When Fleabag & the hot priest are sitting on a bench in the second season, the priest thinks he sees a fox and then goes on to explain to her that foxes follow him everywhere. In the season finale, we see a fox again appear at the bus stop just as the two are waving each other goodbye. But what does it all mean?

The fox is the audience

On the Fleabag episode of the podcast, Mel Lowe from Open House podcast shared their theory that the fox we see following the hot priest at the end of the second series is in fact the same person she’s talking to when speaking to the fourth wall throughout the two seasons. This theory is backed by the fact that Fleabag waves goodbye to the fox in the finale, right at the same time that we’re saying goodbye to both the characters.

The fox is Fleabag’s former self 

Another theory is that the fox actually represents Fleabag’s former self, the messed up person in the first series that slept with her best friend’s boyfriend. When Fleabag tells the fox to follow the priest in the series finale, she is actually waving away her old sins, or the part of her that would have pursued him inspite of both of their best interests. 

Journalist Diyora Shadijanova explains in an article for The Tab:

“Foxes are usually riddled with fleas, they’re unpleasant and unkempt, but we see her evolve out of this state, so that’s why she doesn’t end up following him.”

The fox is God or the Priest’s relationship to celibacy

Ellen O’Connell Whittet, a writer for Vulture magazine, offers the idea that the fox represents the Priest’s relationship to celibacy. On reflection, I guess the fact that the Hot Priest fears the foxes throughout the show could represent a sort of reverence he has for the Lord? Also that the fox always appears at the moment he’s about to succumb to his lust- perhaps as a knowing reminder of his vow of celibacy.

Who is Fleabag addressing when she speaks to the fourth wall?

Another theory explored by Shadijanova is that when Fleabag speaks to the fourth wall she is actually speaking to Boo, her best friend who died after stepping in front of a car in the first season. This theory is backed up by the fact that, as the episodes go on, we notice Fleabag addresses the camera less and less, perhaps signalling that she is finally letting go of her best friend. Really gets you in the feels that one.

Why is her Dad really in the attic?

So we’re all aware that Fleabag’s Dad is a man of few words. His inability to finish a sentence becomes a running, frustrating joke throughout the second series. Perhaps that’s why, rather than telling Fleabag how he really feels, he talks about a ‘trapped mouse’ rather than explaining he himself feels trapped by his upcoming nuptials. 

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