Why Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge Didn’t Talk About Abortion on SNL

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vogue, December 2019

Ethan James Green / Vogue

Too far for Fleabag? Phoebe Waller-Bridge almost joked about abortion laws in the United States while hosting Saturday Night Live last month, but ultimately decided against it.

In a cover interview with Vogue for its December 2019 issue, the Emmy-winning creator of the shows Fleabag and Killing Eve, known for her no holds barred, raunchy and even downright shocking onscreen comedy, said that there were “much harder jokes about America” that she’d toyed around with for her SNL monologue and ultimately left out, feeling that they were inappropriate.

“Just about the abortion laws, the kind of stuff you can’t get your head around,” she said. “The fact that the world has gone backward in this way, and actually in some frightening sense, in so many ways, women have a louder voice, are more empowered these days, and then in these other really insidious ways, blatant ways, we’re being marginalized again. How do you fight that? Because if you rant and rave, if you try and make a noise, you’ll be labeled noisy.”

“You have to be careful of that. You have to find ways to protest,” she said. “I’d really like to write something about that. I don’t know what it is yet. Sometimes you feel it’s braver to say something outrageous, and it’s not always. Sometimes it’s braver to say the vulnerable thing.”

Fleabag has tackled several controversial and sensitive topics with humor, such as miscarriage, anal sex, and romantic and intimate relations with a (hot) priest, played by Sherlock‘s Andrew Scott, a longtime friend of Waller-Bridge.

“I feel like I might scale up a bit. I’ll scale up in terms of gradually getting bigger with my themes and stuff, and I feel maybe I want to start thinking more politically, more globally,” she told Vogue. “I don’t know, but I can feel something bubbling.”

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vogue, December 2019

Ethan James Green / Vogue

Fleabag, whose second and final season was released on Amazon Video this year, yielded Waller-Bridge three Emmys: Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Comedy Series. An Instagram photo of the actress and writer sitting at an Emmys after-party while smoking a cigarette and holding a vodka gimlet cocktail, as her three statuettes rest on a side table, went viral hours after the ceremony.

“The gimlet came into my life about a year and a half ago,” Waller-Bridge told Vogue. “I have really always wanted a cocktail that you order with total confidence; you know, that thing that you order and everyone’s like, Holy shit, she knows what she’s doing with her entire life.”

Waller-Bridge said a friend took the photo and she gave him permission to post it on Instagram.

“He always asks for approval,” she said. “And I was like, Yes, f–k yes! Approved. So approved.”

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