Fleabag’s Pedagogy of the Gimmick

Open Philosophy 5 (1):90-104 (2021)
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Abstract

As a work of art, the show Fleabag prompts differing kinds of judgements by critics. But as a project that reflects life in capitalist society, its gimmickry models the existentially fraught dynamics of despair. Informed by Sianne Ngai’s Theory of the Gimmick, this article explores three sets of gimmicks in relation to despair, where each holds differing pedagogical stakes for viewers: being alone; being a bad feminist; being smitten with a priest. Gimmickry, as a technique within the show, puts viewers on the hook for judging gimmicks as wonders or tricks. Gimmickry as an object of criticism, in turn, brings into view the political and existential significance of Fleabag for viewers.

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Ada S. Jaarsma
Mount Royal University

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