'Back To Life' is exactly what is needed after ‘Fleabag’, with a tough female protagonist, dark humor and awkward conversations
Is there a Fleabag-shaped hole in your heart that refuses to be filled? Do you miss the show’s creator and protagonist Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s (the eponymous Fleabag) sardonic inner monologue? Do you miss the dry British humor that touches nerves you didn't know existed?
If your answers to all of the above are “yes”, then ‘Back to Life’ is the show for you. The six-part British comedy that first premiered on BBC Three April 15, will premiere in the U.S. on Showtime November 10.
It follows the story of Miri, who was released from prison after an 18-year sentence. She returns to her parents’ home in the small town she grew up in and where the crime occurred.
But why should ‘Back To Life’ become your replacement for ‘Fleabag’? Well, for starters, the show’s protagonist, just like Fleabag, is also the creator and the co-writer.
Daisy Haggard created and co-wrote 'Back to Life' with Laura Solon. The show also stars Geraldine James, Richard Durden, Jo Martin, Jamie Michie, Christine Bottomley, Adeel Akhtar and Liam Williams. Additionally, the show was originally produced by 'Fleabag' producer Two Brothers Pictures for BBC.
But that’s not all. In the show, despite being surrounded by reminders of her past, and hostility from her community, Miri tries to remain optimistic and forge a real adult life. Does that remind you of a certain someone? It sure does.
While ‘Fleabag’, concentrated on one character (with the occasional insight into the supporting characters’ lives), ‘Back To Life’ deals with an entire community. According to Judy Berman in Time magazine, “What ‘Fleabag’ did for one wounded human being, this worthy successor does for a scarred community.”
But that difference aside, the show manages to remain loyal to its spiritual predecessor: Awkward conversations, unlikeable-yet-fascinating characters and, of course, dark humor.
In terms of exploring women characters, ‘Back To Life’, like ‘Fleabag’ does a tremendous job. Speaking to the BBC about the show, Haggard said, “I was always really interested in how harshly we judge a woman who has done a bad thing over how we judge men.”
“The soul of the story, though,” writes Lucy Mangan for The Guardian, “is in Miri’s attempts to construct a life that has been on pause for half its length. She is an optimist – not in a maddening or incredible way, but simply in the way that ordinary people can be; she can be knocked down and get up again, battered, bloodied and slightly more weary than before, and stagger on.”
And perhaps that is what makes Miri just like Fleabag. They’re both fighters in their own ways. Even if Fleabag is a cynic by nature, she refuses to look back. She refuses to be brought down by her past – dysfunctional relationships and death.
Both shows, of course, have different things to offer. And it’s unlikely that ‘Back To Life’ will feature “The Hot Priest”. And one shouldn’t expect them to be alike. As works of art that provide an insight into the human psyche, doused in a healthy dose of dark humor, both shows are trailblazers for a new era of women-centric comedies that leave you wanting more.
'Back To Life' premieres in the U.S. on Showtime November 10.