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Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “SNL” Monologue Was An Amazing One — Because It Centered Women

by Joline Faujour

Two weeks ago, Saturday Night Live’s host was Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who gave a monologue that was an amazing one: because it put women, and our experiences and desires, front and center. Waller-Bridge is an English writer, comedian, and actress. And now, Waller–Bridge is also an Emmy Award winner, having won 3 out of 4 Emmy Awards she was nominated for this past September for both writing and starring in Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge expressed in her opening monologue a righteous feminist attitude towards her Emmy wins that captured the importance of why fighting for women’s rights is needed. She discussed everything from people’s genitals (“They’re just sitting there”) to women’s needs, feminism, and politics. “We all find weird things sexy,” she said, “and women can now speak openly about their desires without being burned at the stake, which is nice. Back in the day, horny women were to be feared—and now they’re given Emmys.”

Waller-Bridge added that she’s been asked often if she’s similar to her character in Fleabag. She describes Fleabag as “sexually depraved, foul-mouthed, and dangerous” and continues by answering with “I always have to say to them, ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right.’”

Monologues like Waller-Bridge’s are needed: those that inspire women who are not only aware and know of what women go through, but encourage them to motivate themselves and be themselves in a male-dominated sphere. SNL has historically not been the best place for women and has even been called a boys’ club: having a woman known for telling our stories onstage, joking about phenomenons only we might understand (Fleabag’s love interest is so dreamy, Waller-Bridge jokes, because he listens to her), was special.

Comedy is worth learning about, and has a quite a long history. In this Ted Talk, Chris Bliss says it’s a type of translation into understanding our society. SNL, a show often considered the forefront of mainstream comedy, has a responsibility to reflect the world we’re living in with their cast and their hosts. 

According to The New York TimesFleabag is a show that “seduces us, then accuses us,” the audience. Waller-Bridge’s protagonist flirts for and with attention, and then pushes it away; she uses a method that’s called “breaking the fourth wall” to connect with her audience, looking into the camera mid-moment to let the audience know her thoughts, whatever those might be. As the show goes on to its end, this becomes limited, with Waller-Bridge setting limits and, in a way, giving her character more privacy. However, this privacy is what might have enticed the audience to perhaps want more, which is probably why it won for best comedy.

Top Image via BBC / Fleabag

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