But Season 2 isn't sex-drenched, and even Season 1 was enormously clever and well-acted. Viewers were introduced to a kindly but foul-mouthed young priest who was invited by Fleabag's stepmother-to-be to an engagement dinner. The priest is very happy to have been invited to the dinner, even though the air bristles with family tension, because he is so lonely.
PLOT SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO WATCH BBC COMEDIES
Fleabag is erotically attracted to the young priest, whereas he shrewdly perceives that what Fleabag needs, most of all, is a chaste male friend. Unfortunately, this chastity lasts only until the end of Episode 4 when he is discovered by Fleabag at 9:45 PM drunk in the vestry, looking for a hidden bottle. Because he is determined to find out Fleabag's secret sorrow, he persuades her to enter the confessional---and here I became very uncomfortable. To make an excruciating--and jaw-droppingly sacrilegious--scene short, I'll just say that Fleabag delivers a heartbreaking monologue and the priest kisses her. There is a lot of panting and snorting before, mercifully, a painting falls off the wall, and the priest rushes off in sorrow.
It was a while before I saw that part, though, as I was out of my seat, across the room, and yelling about cancelling the TV license a split-second after the priest pulled aside the curtain. Poor B.A. gave me a running commentary. B.A. doesn't wade through the sludge of the clerical sexual abuse and coverup scandal every day.
Here's the thing. For THIRTY YEARS ("If boys could have babies, there'd be a clinic in St. John's," sneered Canadian pro-aborts in the late 1980s) ordinary faithful Catholics have borne the brunt of the clerical sexual abuse scandal. Most damaged are the ordinary faithful Catholics who were themselves sexually abused or seduced: not just the tiny minority who were under eleven, but the boys aged 11-18, the young men, the young women, and helpless elderly in hospitals. But the rest of us haven't escaped entirely.
For thirty years non-Catholics and ex-Catholics have mocked the faithful, especially the entire brotherhood of priests, with the sexual sins of a handful of perverted criminals. And when Catholics, trying to get to grips with the problem, observe that the largest group of victims were teenage boys and young men and therefore homosexuality must have something do to with it, other Catholics start screaming about the women. Well, yes. We Catholics all know about the women. I know at least three women who have been molested by priests, and two women who had affairs with them. It's painful.
And I haven't even mentioned the corrosive anti-catholicism that has been part and parcel of life in Great Britain for over four hundred years. It's still here because Catholicism is still against the state religion, which is now Sex. And that's painful, too. At cocktail parties--when I still went to cocktail parties--I went through verbal contortions not to have to name the newspaper I wrote for. Never mind the fact that Great Britain is, on paper, so much against hatred for minority religious and so much for religious diversity.
What do I do to escape the sorrow of wading through the swamp that is the decline and fall of Western Christendom? I sit down after supper with my husband and watch clever, funny television shows. And I honestly thought that I was watching a show in which Catholicism would be allowed to speak firm, kind words against the sexual libertinism that is making so many post-Christians so miserable.
But no. Fleabag's writer--an enormously talented woman--did not allow that. That wasn't her intent. Her intent was to eroticise chaste Catholic celibacy, to eroticise the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, and to show Mighty Aphrodite defeating even the mighty Catholic priesthood.
Have a look on Twitter to see how much British television audiences liked that. They LOVED that. They terribly want Fleabag to have sex with that priest. Terribly. They think he is the perfect man for Fleabag, yada yada, and yet when women start suing British dioceses, they will tut-tut about Catholic priests seducing vulnerable women ("although at least it isn't boys").
It was a long time before I could sleep, so angry and disappointed was I. And this led me to reflect that I am angry and disappointed every day, and that when Hilary White had my job, she longed to write about marine biology.
Clearly the BBC is no escape from sorrow.