If you haven’t seen Fleabag’s second season, first I’ll politely ask you what the hell you’re doing, run to your television now. Secondly, I’ll tell you that the second season includes a very attractive, “cool” priest who befriends Fleabag, who swears and drinks and mocks his funny little outfits. But according to an actual Jesuit priest who reviewed this character, this priest is not cool. You heard it: the cool priest is not cool, says real priest.
In a piece for Religion News Services, Father (is that correct?) Thomas Reese wrote a review of the second season, which contains spoilers for those who haven’t seen. He writes that “Fleabag as a person is both dysfunctional and hilarious” and that her “tongue has a viper’s bite.” All very true, go on sir.
He does have good things to say about the priest:
He is not your plaster-of-Paris saint. He has many faults as well as doubts. Most importantly, he is not self-righteous or arrogant. He actually listens to her, as is shown by the fact that he is the only one who notices her asides to the audience. He treats Fleabag with honesty and respect, not pretending to have all the answers.
But, of course, (again, spoilers) the priest and Fleabag sleep together. But Reese’s issue isn’t with the sex, really, but how the priest failed Fleabag:
My problem with the priest is not that he violated his promise of celibacy. My problem is that he let his own needs trump the needs of Fleabag. This is not an uncommon temptation of priests with parishioners, therapists with patients, counselors with clients and teachers with students.
His sin is not just a violation of celibacy; it is a professional violation.
It’s actually kind of a sweet review?
What Fleabag needed was a priest, not a lover. She had had plenty of lovers. He knew she was vulnerable, but his own weakness destroyed the only chance of helping her. She needed forgiveness for betraying her friend and she would not find that in bed.
All he can say is, “It’ll pass.” After her declaration of love, he abandons her and walks away, just another jerk in a long series of betrayals.
Sorry, not cool.
Still wanted them to end up together, though, sorry Father.