Phoebe Waller-Bridge over the pond

Alfie Blincowe discusses the sensational Pheobe Waller-Bridge and her success in the US.

Alfie Blincowe
15th October 2019
After becoming one of the biggest names in UK TV and film, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is now expanding into the US and recently hosted Saturday Night Live.

The star and creator of the smash-hit comedy series Fleabag has come a long way in the past decade. There have been a few missteps along the way. The other comedy show that she created and starred in; Crashing, saw very low ratings and has been put on indefinite hiatus after only one season, and her first Hollywood role was in Solo, a disappointing Star Wars flop. Despite these blips, Phoebe Waller-Bridge still seems to be on the up and up. Her writing on Killing Eve and the new Bond film have given her a great sense of credibility as a creator, but Fleabag still seems to be the project catapulting her towards international fame.

Waller-Bridge’s fascinatingly deep and hilarious comedy writing didn’t come in to play much in her recent SNL show. The programme has become less about quality and more about showing off celebrities and relying on star power. It is not the cultural juggernaut it once was. Hosting the show is still a significant boost to a celebrity’s career though, as it adds legitimacy to their fame and keeps them in the public eye. Hosting was Waller-Bridge's chance to appeal to an exclusively American audience and she seemed to nail it. The sketches were mediocre, but her opening address to the crowd went down a storm and confirmed her as a comedian that can hack it in the states, even outside of the cushion of fiction.

Pheobe Waller-Bridge’s next show will be a comedy for HBO, set to air in the next few months. The show Run will focus on a woman’s lust for adventure being rekindled by an ex-lover. It will star Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson, plus Waller-Bridge in a supporting role, as well as working in the writers room. This latest episode of SNL was probably organised to helped ease Waller-Bridge into the American comedy world before the release of her new show.

In some ways, though, Waller-bridge is already part of American comedy. Whilst Fleabag may have seemed undoubtedly British the show was partially funded by Amazon, which is why it was able to win Emmys. In the past, when a British television show was popular enough to garner American interest, the next step was to remake it with American actors, such as The Office. Because of the online nature of the modern world Americans had the chance to enjoy the original Fleabag before any plans to remake it were even discussed.

The world is getting smaller thanks to the internet and streaming. More people are watching television from all around the world. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s success across the pond could be the first of many new stars who are not limited to a single country's market when they first start their careers. She is paving the way for a new generation of creators who will be judged on the quality of their content and not limited by borders, background, or accent.

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