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Breaking The Fourth Wall In Fleabag

In the world of storytelling, “breaking the fourth wall” is a narrative technique that invites the audience into the intimate world of a character.

It’s a well-worn method to create a deeper connection between the audience and the protagonist, though in this article, I’ll explore how “Fleabag” masterfully employs this technique and why it works so well, drawing from my experience of studying over 1,000 scripts as a screenplay consultant.

Breaking The Fourth Wall To Develop A Relationship

The use of breaking the fourth wall in “Fleabag” is a testament to its creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s, storytelling finesse. It’s a device that breaks down the barriers between the audience and the character.

By addressing the audience directly, we as an audience become her confidants, and this connection is maintained throughout the series.

Also, Fleabag allows us access to her innermost thoughts and feelings, creating a sense of intimacy. This technique is especially crucial in the case of Fleabag because she isn’t always the most likeable character.

We need insight into her private reflections to bring empathy to her so that we at least understand why she behaves in such a toxic manner. 

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Fleabag’s Relationship With The Priest

In the second series, Fleabag’s relationship with the priest symbolises her ascension from finding herself at rock bottom by the end of the first series.

The breaking of the fourth wall is used as a motif to elevate the meaning behind her unique relationship with the Priest.

This emerges because he’s the only character who acknowledges her moments of direct communication with the audience.

This adds a fresh new dimension to the technique, as breaking the fourth wall is used as a method to signify that he can penetrate her emotional defences where others cannot.

Breaking The Fourth Wall To Assert Genre

When Fleabag breaks the fourth wall, the dialogue is often dramatised and infused with humour.

Not only does this technique add a new layer of entertainment, but it plays into the TV show’s genre as a Comedy/Drama. In other words, these moments of direct address are both emotionally engaging and provide comedic relief. 

Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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