Honestly, the premise of this post is a bit of a stretch. But stick with me.
Being cooped up inside has made me discover some things I should have watched/listened to/enjoyed a long time ago. One of those things is the British TV series “Fleabag,” specifically Season 2. For those who haven’t seen it yet, “Fleabag” is a dark and hilarious portrait of a woman trying to heal from her traumatic past. I ate up all 12 episodes in less than 48 hours.
When I finished binge-watching the show at 3AM, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked up reviews. I watched interviews. I re-watched episodes. And when I found out there wouldn’t be a third season, I felt a wave of sadness, then contentment. Finally, I wondered why. Why had I gotten so invested? What was so special about “Fleabag”? Then Carly Rae Jepsen came to mind.
I was similarly late to listening to Jepsen’s music when I dived into it last summer. I had heard rumblings of how she was so much more than the “Call Me Maybe” girl and I finally set aside time to find out for myself. The rumblings were right. Her latest two albums, Emotion and Dedicated are 80s-inspired pop perfection. I ended up working my way through her discography just as quickly as I consumed episodes of “Fleabag.” But that’s not why I made the connection between the two.
Instead, I think that both operate by touching on a very particular, addictive yet completely obliterating feeling. Both “Fleabag” and Jepsen’s music let you sink your teeth into the “almost.”
Throughout Season 2, the main character in “Fleabag” is on the cusp of a forbidden relationship. Played by the show’s creator and writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this character is having her comeback and the viewer finally feels like she has a real shot at love. Unfortunately, that love is for someone unattainable. A priest.
Strangely enough, Jepsen’s music covers the same theme. I’m not the first one to point this out (a superfan wrote a 150-page essay on the “Jepsen pattern” you can check out here: https://www.ascarnooneelsecansee.com/), but pretty much all Jepsen sings about is longing. She never gets the guy. The relationship never works out for her. But Jepsen’s also never openly heartbroken about it. She just really, really likes this guy and wants him to know it.
I can’t picture Waller-Bridge’s character singing along to “I Really Like You” or “Cut to the Feeling.” Mostly, I think, because she’s British. But the feelings are there. Both “Fleabag” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s music make not quite getting what you wanted feel magical and frustratingly fulfilling. A difficult feat.