I love shows where the titular character is an anti-heroine. She’s emotionally fucked up, does questionable things, and is unlikable. I admit there are times where I pause my streaming service or look away because the protagonist does something so cringe-worthy that I feel their pain and humiliation, but its appreciated because they’re human. Three shows where the female character is flawed and does questionable actions are Girls, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Fleabag.
One thing that I’ve noticed from these shows is that the main protagonist suffers from some type of mental illness. In Girls, Hannah Horvath suffers from OCD, in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch suffers from anxiety, and in Fleabag, Fleabag suffers from depression. I relate to all of these characters because having a mental illness makes life hellish and difficult to navigate.
Another thing I enjoy about these characters is how the creators allow their main characters to fall hard. Even though its hard to see characters screw themselves over, its relateable. In season one of Girls, Horvath purposely tries to get sexually harassed by her boss so she could blackmail him. Its an outlandish episode, but funny nevertheless. In an episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Bunch sends her ex a text where she admits that she still has feelings for him and then breaks into his apartment to delete it. I’ve sent texts where I instantly regretted and wished I could delete. In one episode of Fleabag, Fleabag steals a small sculpture that her stepmother created in order to sell it. She is desperate for money and is embarrassed to ask her family members for help. I’ve never stolen anything but I empathize the need to steal when one is in financial straits.
These characters are engaging because they have difficult parents and I have difficult parents. Horvath’s parents are progressive but kooky. Bunch’s parents are divorced and she has a father who is distant and a mother who is critical and overbearing. Fleabag has a passive aggressive stepmother and a father who is uncomfortable around her. My parents aren’t as ridiculous as these characters’ parental units, but it makes me feel less alone knowing that there are others dealing with tough parents.
These shows and their characters aren’t for everyone. These characters do things that some watchers might find repulsive such as saying the wrong thing at the inappropriate time, being sexually open, and inadvertently hurting others. I appreciate that the creators don’t shy away from their characters’ flaws because it makes them human and endearing at the same time. It forces me to look at my own flaws and to accept them.