Fleabag's relationship with her sister is 'the real love story of the series,' says Sian Clifford who plays Claire on the show
In an exclusive interview with MEAWW, Sian Clifford, who plays Claire on the BBC show, says that the sibling relationship is at the heart of the show
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's eponymous anti-heroine Fleabag is not just another twisted character to join the league of messed up protagonists along the lines of Don Draper in 'Mad Men', BoJack Horseman, Ray Donovan, and Fiona Gallagher in 'Shameless'. As complicated as the character of Fleabag is, Waller-Bridge has to be commended for her offscreen (she created the entire series) and onscreen contribution to the British drama.
The actress stars as an angry, confused and sexually voracious young woman living in London with a dark past that she spends every day running away from. But amidst the chaos in her life, Fleabag finds her rooting in Claire - her "super high-powered perfect anorexic, rich super sister". But you mustn't go by that description.
Claire and Fleabag are more than sisters — they're best friends — something that is possibly true of many siblings. The sisters bicker, they fight, and patch up just like that. Despite everything that goes wrong in their respective lives, the sisters have each other's backs.
"The reason I love our show as much as any other fan is because of the sister relationship, which is at the heart of the show - it is the real love story of the series. [The relationship] is so accurately drawn. I have a sister and I can really relate to how Fleabag and Claire interact with one other. They both compel and repel each other. But no matter what, in a time of crisis, they will actually be there for one another," Sian Clifford, who plays Claire on the dark comedy, said in an exclusive chat with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).
Towards the end of the first season, Fleabag's dark reality is finally out of the bag - audiences now know the gravity of the situation and can truly understand the reason behind her behavior and actions following Boo's death. While Fleabag has spent all of the first season running away from her reality, it is Claire who brings her face to face with it - finally saying the words out loud. And here is where it feels like the sisters are going to part ways because of a third person.
You can see the tension between Claire and Fleabag at the beginning of the second season in this clip:
"At the end of the first season, Claire doesn't show up for her sister - we think she is going to, but she doesn't. [She] instead spurns her and leaves her for Martin [played by Brett Gelman]," begins Clifford. At that time, Claire was also dealing with her own reality, so she chooses to walk away from Fleabag.
But that is not so.
"What is wonderful about the second season is the U-turn that Claire takes in that [sister] relationship and the journey their sisterhood goes on," says Claire. The first episode of the second and final season shows us that there is no love lost between the two sisters. SPOILER ALERT: When Claire miscarries, Fleabag doesn't think twice before breaking it to the dinner party that it is really her who has miscarried.
"I really like to think that their relationship has evolved in a healthier way than it can. They're always there for each other whenever in need. but as with all sibling relationships, it is a little tricky to navigate," says Clifford adding that it was very important for the team behind 'Fleabag' that the sisters find their way back to each other.
Towards the end of the first season, Fleabag is walking around the city dejected. "Then Claire comes to collect her in a taxi and it shows that she is there for her sister. That sort of plants a seed for where the story goes - it is a turning point for Claire, the show and the whole series has loads of those moments that culminate in her having the courage to end her marriage."
Another instance that comes to mind is when Claire is in an unhappy marriage with Martin, where things have gone so bad that she is not even achieving orgasms with him. Seeing her sister struggle with the relationship - among other issues - Fleabag, in a classic sister way, gets Claire a dildo.
"It shows how in the littlest of ways, sisters have each others' backs."