Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing for Fleabag is some of the best on television today. It’s incisive, charming, edgy, emotional, and hilarious all at once. Waller-Bridge has created a cast of characters that are each complex and interesting, even when they only appear for moments at a time. The story and the exchanges those characters share often gets right at the heart of what today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings are dealing with.
So it’s hardly surprising that the show was just nominated for eleven Emmys. Here are ten of our favorite quotes from everyone’s new favorite show on Amazon Prime.
10 Fleabag: "Chic" means boring. Don't tell the French.
In season 2 episode 1, Fleabag helps her brother-in-law Martin shop for a birthday present for her sister Claire. They go to a shoe store, where an increasingly distressed Martin tries to figure out which pair of shoes Claire “is.”
This little dig at the French is an amusing aside that alludes to the ongoing English/French rivalry that has lasted centuries. This line is made funnier when Fleabag tries to comfort Claire after a bad haircut episode 5. She tries telling Claire it’s edgy and cool, before saying, “It’s chic!” Before finally resorting to, “Claire, it’s French.” Obviously the two English women have a more complicated relationships with ideas of feminism, fashion, and the French, than this hilarious quip first implies.
9 Fleabag: I sometimes worry I’d be less of a feminist if I had [a] bigger [chest].
Fleabag says this in season 2 episode 4, during a Quaker meeting (because she feels compelled by the Spirit to). It’s an interesting confession, one that harkens back to season one when Fleabag and her sister Claire realized that they are “bad” feminists. Then, Fleabag and Claire both admit that they would be willing to trade five years of their lives for the “perfect” body.
As hilarious as this line is, it’s also secretly extremely relatable. A lot of women have this doubt. Dealing with a culture that so prizes a woman’s appearance means that self-aware women spend a lot of time questioning their relationship with their appearance. The meat of the question really asks: Would I be less of an advocate for change if I was benefitting from the status quo?
8 Martin: I'm not a bad guy, I just have a bad personality!
When just the appearance of a character makes you groan outloud, the show has made an incredible villain. And the truth is: We all hate Martin.
Fleabag has never had a good relationship with her brother-in-law. But it only continues to disintegrate into absolute hatred as season 2 continues. In the final scenes of the show, Martin and his wife Claire have it out about their relationship, and he says this delightful line. Our hatred of Martin is mostly based on his bad personality--he drinks a dangerous amount, he's mean to everyone and especially Fleabag, he makes wildly inappropriate jokes then gets mad if you don't like them... Martin would be the most-hated character on this show, if Godmother wasn't already the worst.
7 Belinda: People are all we’ve got. So grab the night by its nipples and go flirt with someone.
Just when you think Fleabag has devolved into absolute cynicism, a character like Belinda appears in the middle of season two to set you back on the right course. She is a veritable font of wisdom for Fleabag, appearing in just exactly the right moment to remind Fleabag that the world hasn’t gone completely bad. There are still good things left in the world.
The idea that everyone and everything is terrible is an idea that Fleabag’s generation, and the generation just younger, has seen hammered home through everything from memes on the internet to news sources. Seeing that rebuked is powerful.
6 Fleabag: You know, either everyone feels like this a little bit, and they're just not talking about it, or I'm completely f**king alone.
One of the central questions of the first season of Fleabag was: how normal is anyone’s experience? Fleabag seems to struggle with the things that we all struggle with, but she also feels incredibly alone during it. After the death of her best friend and mother, she doesn’t have anyone to really turn to about anything she’s feeling. This quote—said so forcefully to Bank Manager—encapsulates exactly that quandry. It’s so hard to know what other people are experiencing from our own perspectives, and yet it seems likely that everyone goes through the same things. We’re all human, after all.
5 Fleabag: Hair is everything, Anthony!
Fleabag's right: We wish hair wasn't everything, but it is! A hair cut matters, and when Fleabag shouts this at a hairstylist after he gives Claire a horrendous haircut, we all cheered. After all, Claire is having sort of a rough time. Her marriage is falling apart. Her stepson is in love/obsessed with her. She's fallen in love with a different man at work. And his name is Klare, for goodness sake. The last thing she needs is to have a hair style that makes her look like a pencil on top of all of that.
Of course, Anthony gives Claire some very prescient advice after his shouting match with Fleabag: "If you want to change your life, change your life. It isn't going to happen in here."
4 Fleabag: Don't make me an optimist, you will ruin my life.
Yet another hilarious and also cutting line that shows Waller-Bridge’s genius. One of the themes of season 2 was healing, and the ways that healing doesn’t always feel great. In the fourth episode, we see Fleabag starting to come to terms with the fact that she is in fact healing from all the tragedy and self-destructive behavior she experienced. But becoming an optimist in any way would totally destroy the walls of cynicism Fleabag has built to protect herself from it. Leaning into those feelings would probably feel like ruin, at that point.
It’s also just a funny warning. A close runner-up for this list was Priest’s question: “Why would you believe in something awful, when you could believe in something wonderful?”
3 Belinda: …But then you're free. No longer a slave, no longer a machine, with parts. You're just a person in business.
One of the best things about Fleabag is that almost every single character has wonderful and memorable things to say. Belinda’s long soliloquy about menopause and feminism and freedom is always going to make every list of the show’s best lines.
Fleabag’s encounter with Belinda in episode three of season two is another chance for the show to ruminate on feminism. This time, Belinda rants about how the Best Woman in Business award is nonsense because it’s still a sub-category—not just Best in Business, but Best Woman. It frustrates her. Her full rant about how menopause makes her feel free from the sub-category is worth listening to over and over again.
2 Claire: [To Fleabag] The only person I'd run through an airport for is you.
Talk about heart-wrenching. After watching Claire and Fleabag spar and dance around each other for two seasons, seeing the sisters admit that they care for each other left us all a bit misty-eyed. These two characters have a notoriously difficult time even acknowledging that they have feelings, so seeing them talk openly about them is a great display of their growth in this season.
The confession comes during their father’s wedding, when Claire has just finally admitted that her marriage to Martin is over. As much as she loves her family, her love for Klare just barely warrants leaving the wedding and chasing after him.
1 Priest: [Love is] all any of us want and it's hell when we get there! So, no wonder it's something we don't want to do on our own.
The show’s best moments in season two tend to happen when Priest is on screen. On top of his sizzling chemistry with Fleabag, most of his lines are full of wisdom, wit, and compassion. When he marries Godmother and Dad, those sometimes-acerbic and always carefully crafted lines become a tour de force. His full speech about how difficult and painful love can be is what the entire season of the show has been hurtling towards, so it’s no wonder that it is being widely quoted as one of the best lines in the show. No one would blame you if you kept rewinding to watch his speech over and over again.