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27th Sep 2019

Every episode of Fleabag ranked from worst to best

Ciara Knight

Disclaimer: There is no such thing as a bad episode of Fleabag

As is common knowledge at this point, Fleabag is the greatest television show in existence. Period.

Every episode is a masterclass in how to tell a story, peppered with the perfect amount of humour, sentimentality, reliability and realness that keeps you emotionally invested from start to finish.

Ranking these episodes could be seen as a disservice to the show. Perhaps there is no need, but it is being done so as to gain further appreciation for the calibre of televisual triumph we are dealing with. There are no flaws, there are no bad episodes, only exceptional ones, and slightly less but still very much exceptional ones.

Forgive me, for I have tried to rank every Fleabag from worst to best.

12. Series 1, Episode 3

Let me be very clear, the worst least most brilliant episode of Fleabag is still a hefty amount better than the best episode of most TV shows in existence today. Something had to come last, those are unfortunately the rules of this sadistic little game. In this particular instalment, Claire boldly reveals that she hasn’t farted in three years, which feels about right. For the grand price of £70, Fleabag assists Martin in searching for a present for Claire’s non-surprise surprise business birthday party, which ends up being the statue that she stole from their insufferable stepmother. Proving that he is The Absolute Worst, Martin tries to kiss Fleabag and immediately follows it up by calling her an asshole. The fact that this calibre of an episode is last on the list speaks volumes for what is to follow. We are dealing with perfection.

11. Series 1, Episode 5

A memorial luncheon shouldn’t be a good premise for a show, and yet here we all are, quite literally eating it up without a single scrap left behind. Fleabag’s annual ‘boob appointment’ sets the tone for what is an uncomfortable viewing experience as we see her and her sister break bread with their father and their mother’s former best friend. The evil godmother is in impeccable form throughout, throwing verbal daggers at every opportunity all while her face remains permanently plastered with a demented smile. “Let me show you to the loo”, she offers to the girls who grew up in the very house she’s currently nestled in. It’s impossible to watch without having your shoulders hunched with tension from start to finish. The entire episode makes a very compelling case for mandatory emancipation after the age of 16, frankly.

10. Series 1, Episode 4

Something as nuanced as a silent retreat really sounds like an excruciating premise for a show on paper, but we need to remember that we are dealing with a gifted writer, cast and production crew here. Fleabag and Claire embark on a female-only silent retreat at their father’s expense, really one-upping his typical gifts of feminism lecture tickets. While there, the sisters attempt to heal their fractured relationship, eventually resulting in the pinnacle of sisterly love – attempting to share a vibrator. The scenic location offers an interesting change of pace in the show, proving that everything in this little universe just works regardless of where it’s set. We could have Fleabag‘s adventures in space and it would still slap. *Fleabag arrives at The Moon Hotel and looks to camera* “Lots of space, I see”.

9. Series 2, Episode 2

Fleabag goes to therapy and continues her war with Martin after he alleged that it was actually her who tried to kiss him, a laughable claim that everyone struggles to take seriously, Claire included. We meet the creepy ‘Hot Misogynist’ lawyer Claire has hired to help Fleabag with the lawsuit, adding ample sexual tension to both sides of things. At a crossroads of vulnerability, Fleabag finds herself lusting after the irresistible Hot Priest thanks to his G&T stash and fondness for random bursts of divine intervention. A solid highlight of the episode comes in the form of Fleabag volunteering at the church fair with far from pure intentions. Amidst her very blatant trawling for forbidden fruit, she gets firm instructions from Claire’s weirdo stepson to “Tell her to leave him”, pertaining to Claire and his idiot father, Martin. Preach, Jake. Preach.

8. Series 1, Episode 2

Fleabag tries to sell her (stolen) stepmother’s statue to Martin, who she catches off guard while he’s looking at obscene things on the internet (a personalised necklace that says ‘Claire’), then returns home to see that her boyfriend Harry seems to have committed particularly hard to this breakup, almost hinting that things might actually be finished this time. In a classic fairytale moment, she bumps into an old flame while purchasing tampons and agrees to be “around later”, inevitably engaging in a spot of back door antics. A surprise gone wrong sees Harry plummeted into the depths of a spontaneous panic attack and then nursed back to safety. Then he discovers Fleabag‘s porn search history and they break up for real, all while he’s wearing a perfectly-wrapped towel on his head. Like salon quality. It’s not his first time.

7. Series 1, Episode 6

The ‘Sexhibiton’ of the century takes place, which sees Fleabag‘s evil godmother showcasing her intimate and frankly uncomfortable art for anyone, regardless of familial relation, to look at. Fleabag is handed the important role of topping up guests’ champagne glasses while her date is very frequently reminded of just how handsome he is. Bit by tragic bit, we learn what actually happened to Boo and it hangs over the whole episode, culminating in heartbreaking finale. Thankfully, the bank manager comes back to restart the interview from the first episode, proving that no matter how badly you screw up in life, Hugh Dennis will always be there to give you a second chance. Chin up, champ.

6. Series 1, Episode 1

Catapulting us into the world of Fleabag was always going to be a mammoth task, but this inaugural episode does it with an enviable level of confidence. “Do I have a massive arsehole?” is the most defining moment, as we immerse ourselves into this insane world, followed by a heartfelt masturbatory scene involving Barack Obama and an accidental flashing of a bank manager, which we quickly learn are all very standard occurrences during a typical day in the life of Fleabag. As far as pilot shows go, this one is bursting with personality and relatable nervous energy. It’s a bit sickening that someone can write a show that well. The fact that this is only halfway on the list just shows how strong the episodes that follow actually are.

5. Series 6, Episode 6

This entire episode was tinged with sadness from the outset because we knew that it was going to be the end. Everything felt fragile and personally speaking, I was fraught with worry the entire way through that something would be left unsolved. Thankfully, it was flawless. Claire got her happy ending, Fleabag‘s Dad got his happy ending, even creepy Jake got his happy ending, but it was never going to be a full sweep of the board. Fleabag, Martin and the Hot Priest all suffered a pretty miserable draw in the lottery, but it didn’t feel like anyone’s life was truly over. These fictional characters will all rebuild themselves and life will go on in this very finite universe. God damn you for putting such a tender and sob-inducing Alabama Shakes track as the final song, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. God damn you to hell. “I know I’m gonna be alright”.

4. Series 2, Episode 4

“I sometimes worry that I wouldn’t be such a feminist if I had bigger tits” is a quote that will truly stand the test of time, as it rightly should. In this remarkable episode of television, Fleabag gets closer to the Hot Priest, engaging in a spot of clerical clothing shopping, quiet reflection and guinea pig cuddling, then things get a bit more serious as we revisit the day of her mother’s funeral. Only Fleabag Non-Existent-Surname could arise on the morning of her mum’s funeral to discover that she looks amazing, and no matter what she does with her hair “it just keeps falling in this really chic way”. Back to the present day, she goes for a spot of confession, pours her heart out bare for the Lord to witness and is instructed to kneel for her penance. The entire episode is perfection. Utter, utter perfection.

3. Series 2, Episode 5

Show me a more iconic 2019 TV reference than “I look like a pencil” and I will show you a mirror so that you can see what a liar looks like. This episode starts out with Fleabag continuing her descent into self-sabotage by going on a date with her ‘misogynist lawyer’ after promising Claire that she wouldn’t, then we get to hear Olivia Colman shout the c-word in an excruciatingly high-pitched tone after the Hot Priest bails on their wedding plans. That in itself is enough action for one singular episode of television. Our appetites were sufficiently sated at that point. Then Claire gets her hair cut to look remarkably like a pencil and we get to see the two sisters return to the scene of the crime, further disgruntling the disgruntled hairdresser. And then Fleabag finally gets to fuck the priest. How can so much happen during 23 minutes of television? Legally, how?

2. Series 2, Episode 3

Anything involving Claire trying to keep up appearances is always a guaranteed sweet spot for the show, which was a concept that they fully leaned into with this episode. Claire asks Fleabag to cater for her work event, who sets the tone for proceedings with a very quick fart in the lift on their way up to Claire’s office. Fleabag dropping the award was the peak of physical comedy this year, combining an earnest “Ooh, that’s heavy” with a half-throwing-half-hoisting motion, immediately followed by the sound and sight of it bursting into smithereens upon impact with the glass tabletop. Add to that, the famous statue saving the day once more and Kristin Scott Thomas in the role that she was born to play and what we’ve got here is complete magic from start to finish.

1. Series 2, Episode 1

Although never in a huge amount of doubt, there were lingering feelings of trepidation present in the earth’s atmosphere when it was announced that Fleabag would be back for a second series. Phoebe Waller-Bridge had previously said that the show was finished and that she had no desire to continue the story. To be fair, the ending of the first series felt finite. But good Lord above were all feelings of uncertainty put to bed within the opening few minutes of series two.

“Get your hands off my miscarriage”, is a line that could be written by none other than the absolute force that is PWB. Add to that, the arrival of a brand new character who is instantly intriguing and likeable, teamed with the sense that although a year has passed in the Fleabag universe, everything still feels the exact same. The whole show is an absolute masterclass in storytelling, both as a lone entity and as part of a series. Every episode is a joy to watch. It is so rare for a TV show to not have a bad egg in the bunch. This is witchcraft. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is not from this world. We must burn her at the stake.

Images via BBC