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Television

Between ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Killing Eve,’ Phoebe Waller-Bridge has the Emmys nominations’ golden touch

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Portrait of Phoebe Waller Bridge, creator and star of the Amazon series “Fleabag,” which was nominated for 11 Emmys on Tuesday.
(Beatrice de Gea / For The Times)

Maybe Emmy voters couldn’t resist Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s fetching black jumpsuit. Maybe they’ve finally started listening to critics. Or maybe the Hot Priest just called in some favors with the man upstairs.

Whatever the case may be, the bittersweet second season of “Fleabag” picked up 11 Emmy nominations Tuesday — exactly 11 more than it received for its first season, in 2016. The darkly funny Amazon comedy, about a young London woman (played by Waller-Bridge) who speaks directly to the camera and uses sexual bravado to disguise deep emotional wounds, will vie for outstanding comedy series along with “The Good Place” (NBC), “Barry” (HBO), “Russian Doll” (Netflix), “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop), “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) and “Veep” (HBO).

Creator, writer and star Waller-Bridge was nominated for her performance as Fleabag, as her character is known, who unexpectedly falls in love with a Catholic priest (Andrew Scott) in Season 2. She also earned a nomination for writing the season’s first episode.

The Waller-Bridge glow extended to virtually all of “Fleabag’s” female cast members: Fresh off an Oscar win for “The Favourite,” Olivia Colman received a nod for supporting actress in a comedy for her performance as Fleabag’s self-absorbed stepmother-to-be. Sian Clifford bagged a surprise nomination for her work as Fleabag’s tightly wound sister, Claire. And Fiona Shaw and Kristen Scott Thomas both received nominations for their scene-stealing guest turns — Shaw as a therapist who tries in vain to treat Fleabag (while rubbing lotion into her elbows); Thomas as an alluring businesswoman who extols the virtues of menopause in a memorable monologue.

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The series was also recognized for its directing, editing and cinematography.

Waller-Bridge’s ability to craft sharp female characters likely factored into the multiple nominations for “Killing Eve,” the sly BBC America series she developed. It was nominated for outstanding drama series, while lead actresses Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer both got nods. Shaw, who plays a formidable MI6 agent in the series, picked up her second nomination of the day, for supporting actress in a drama.

There was one noteworthy “Fleabag” snub: Despite capturing the heart of the internet and inspiring many a meme, Scott was overlooked for his performance as a character identified only as The Priest in the credits — but dubbed “The Hot Priest” on social media.

“Fleabag’s” impressive haul was not a foregone conclusion. The first season of the show, adapted from Waller-Bridge’s one-woman stage play, got nearly unanimous praise when it premiered three years ago, but was shut out at the Emmys. The six-episode season followed Fleabag as she recounted her wild bedroom escapades to the audience, and ended with a stunning revelation about her character’s past.

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Waller-Bridge’s star has risen since then. In addition to her work on “Killing Eve,” she was tapped to polish the script for the as yet untitled “Bond 25,” the latest film in the James Bond franchise, and is executive producing a comedy for HBO.

The second — and supposedly final — season of “Fleabag” rolled out to critical acclaim but relatively little fanfare in May, then quickly came to dominate social media with its poignant tale of faith, redemption and the unlikely romantic connection between two opposites.


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