Already missing Killing Eve? Add Fleabag to the top of your watchlist

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Killing Eve season 1 episode 5 press photo. Image via BBC AMERICA

It’s been a week since Killing Eve’s season finale, but we’re already missing Eve and Villanelle. Fortunately, we have Fleabag to cheer us up.

Usually shows or films about murderers are depressing, and rightfully so. It should be horrifying and draining to watch someone kill and then just go about their day. This is why it’s hard to describe why Killing Eve is so… enjoyable. The BBC America series is about two women obsessed with one another: Eve, a spy, and Villanelle, the psychopathic contract killer she’s trying to take down. It’s ostensibly a thriller and a drama — people are violently dispatched in every episode — but it also uses dark comedy to amazing effect.

I credit this to writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who previously tapped into some fairly morbid comedy for Fleabag, a six-episode series she adapted from her one-woman play. As with Killing Eve, Fleabag sounds pretty dire when described on paper. It’s follows a young woman in the aftermath of her best friend’s suicide. Yet it’s one of those shows — like Catastrophe, Gilmore Girls and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — that I return to over and over as a sort of comfort food.

In fact, I re-watched Fleabag (again) after Killing Eve‘s first season ended last week. If you’re missing Eve and Villanelle as much as I am, I suggest you do the same.

Fleabag is Villanelle, minus the psychopathy

Fleabag (Waller-Bridge), as Fleabag‘s protagonist and narrator goes by (though no one ever addresses her by name), has a lot in common with Villanelle (Jodie Comer). They are two women with serious impulse control issues. Villanelle’s is obviously more sinister: she is compelled to kill, and enjoys doing so. Even worse, she’s good enough at it to make it her job.

Fleabag, on the other hand, is fixated on sex — “The awkwardness of it. The drama of it. The moment you realize someone wants your body. Not so much the feeling of it.” Fleabag is so consumed by sex that it leads her to do morally questionable, or downright awful, things. She sleeps with her best friend Boo’s (Jenny Rainsford) boyfriend, a betrayal that is the catalyst for Boo’s suicide. If Fleabag’s speaking, she’s probably making a filthy joke or double entendre. She propositions people constantly. Most heartbreaking, her sexual antics are why her sister believes Fleabag tried to kiss her husband, when it was really the other way around.

That’s not the end of Fleabag and Villanelle’s similarities: they are also two of the funniest, most gleeful characters I’ve ever seen. Neither takes anything seriously, even, or especially, when the situation calls for it. Villanelle mocks her victims before she takes their lives. Fleabag constantly smirks at the camera, as if sharing an inside joke with the audience. They’re fun, but severely emotionally messed up. At least Fleabag has the defense of grief and guilt — Villanelle was just born without empathy.