Bad Dog, Good Dog: Sitcom Lessons That Came at the Right Time
1 // One of the things that I liked about writing about Fleabag (here) was how it made me think about flawed friendships, and how we take for granted our ability to wreck them, abandon them, and generally treat them as if the rest of our lives will be filled with rainbows of new and better friends. Why are we cruel when we know we are being cruel? Is it because, on some level, we think we are invincible? Yes, it’s a part of being selfish. We bury our daily resentments and then get cavalier with good friend/bad friend binaries. We don’t connect our actions with the fragility of our mortal flesh or psyche. Fleabag has a surprise for you when it comes to friendship hubris: Charcoal, meet ecru. Spoiler: We are both Fleabag and her best friend. Fleabag unfolds our daily toxicity with relentless self-introspection, because relentlessness is at the heart of not turning away from your mistakes.
2 // Fleabag understands that the people you love will disappoint you, and that includes our parents. The fucking people our parents marry become our step-parents, which allows for decades of passive aggression, not the wisest way to spend one’s time. Perhaps it’s a bestie’s new love and not a step or an in-law, but it’s the quicksand between you and that loved one that determines the health of that relationship. We must remember the alarming warning from the cinematary of our collective youth; what happens when you fight quicksand? I can think of why you’d want to fight back (quicksand is lame and deathly), but best to just mock it quietly from your room.
3 // Bad dog, good dog. Who gets to judge? We all have a bit of both in us, but the backstory in Fleabag that really made me aware of how we are the cause of our own suffering is one of basic goodness. Once we become aware of how much of our self-worth is in the shitter, it’s time to get honest and change. We all have the ability to change, and we owe it to ourselves. I am my own best bruiser, and I’m still learning how to change that (thanks to Fleabag).
4 // Lying, Cheating, Stealing: Been there, done that, hope I’m never in that position again. And by that position, I mean that good people, when they are hurting deeply, sometimes do things they would never usually do. Sometimes it’s a fuck you, and sometimes it’s a cry for help.
5 // “People make mistakes” is one of Fleabag’s more important lessons. No matter how mad you are at someone, don’t forget that you’ve made at least one big fat doozy.
6 // Women are hard and women are soft, and, yeah, that’s complex. Feminism means more than ever (especially this month), and don’t be quick to knee-jerk against dialog from a female character that you’ve never encountered on television before. Women are not crazy. Women are not crybabies. Women are not shrews or calculated towards destroying men. Humans are complicated, and Fleabag reminds you that shit is really complicated all-around. Don’t gender my complications, man. Making feminist choices is harder than you think (#twosies)
7 // Giving a massive shit even when people think you don’t—oh, that’s hard too. Some days it feels like we’re wearing full-body armor and processing doesn’t seem like a possibility. But, with kindness, even the most emotionally-corseted lockboxes will begin to open up, which allows for an opportunity for someone else to pay it forward.
8 // Sometimes you can’t believe the assholes you attract, and then you remember something you did to attract them. You either settled, thought you were the exception, or you were kind of being an asshole too. And sometimes it’s just easier, but if you see yourself surrounded by assholes, lamos, temporary assholes, users, weak ones, predators, etc., take a mirror to your own fuckery and acknowledge some responsibility. And then, go ahead and challenge your perspective and stagnancy. If your world is falling apart, and you feel like you’re drowning in loneliness, maybe you’re living in cavalier amounts of denial and the world is responding to it.
9 // Speaking of kindness, we are all deeply sad inside in some way, so be kind when you can. There is that word again, but Fleabag does teach us to tread lightly around people acting out. Most likely, they’re in pain. You’ve been there. It’s hard to deal with someone who is always on a dystopian treadmill of fucking-up, but if you turn away or, worse, sharpen your witty talons on reactionary vehemence, it comes back to haunt you in the form of Karma-zilla.
10 // Let’s revisit forgiveness in the form of human frailty. Sometimes, insecurity and jealousy get the best of us. We become the wrong people. And we sabotage people. We want them to go away. We want to see them fail. But mostly, when we intentionally or accidentally destroy relationships, families, and friendships, it’s because we want a little something that they have (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah5gAkna3jI #sorrynotsorry). If it’s a rando, it’s hard to face them and apologize for the sake of saving something primal and decent in yourself. But, if it’s one of your own, it’s nearly impossible to drag your humility around because the weight is too much to bear.
11 // It’s okay to sleep alone. Self-medication comes in many forms. Empty sex, casual sex, emotionally repressed and detached fuck friends, one-nighters (I prefer Spontaneous Carnal Events)–whatever you do or call it. It’s a bit of cliché after your first round in your 20s. You’re the cause of your own suffering, and you’re more likely to hate yourself than to fill that canyon of a void. With that said, I’m no sexual sage. It’s human to want to bone anyone, all the time. But, we are more than our lust, our bodies, and our perceived aloneness. By acknowledging this, Fleabag teaches us that we’re not alone.
12 // Fuck not changing. Fuck fucking up. Don’t give up on yourself. Try and be a better person by forgiving yourself. Things will get better–maaayyybe, but you have to be open to it. Ask Fleabag.
12.5 // Fleabag. Phoebe–One of things I really love about you is that you don’t back down. I know you’re not a demi-god, but can you write Trump into your next endeavor? We’re sorry, and we need you more than ever. We can’t back down now, or ever.
Laura Minor is the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Writers Spotlight Award at Florida State University, chosen by D.A. Powell. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Hobart, Spring Gun Press, and Lungfull. She was a Teacher’s College Fellow at Columbia University, the recipient of the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Award, and a finalist for Steel Toe Books & Pudding House Press. A celebrated singer-songwriter, she is also currently working on a third record (forthcoming in winter 2016) while she finishes her debut book of poems as a doctoral candidate in poetry at Florida State University.