Phoebe Waller-Bridge (‘Fleabag’): Are we underestimating her at the Golden Globes?

Every year like clockwork the Golden Globes dish out a surprise on the television side by honoring a show and performer that few were watching out for. For awards pundits and experts it is hard to predict what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will champion. Last year on the comedy side it was Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” and its star, Gael Garcia Bernal — ignored for their first season in 2014, both would win for their second in 2015. Will they choose to champion Amazon’s “Fleabag” and its star Phoebe Waller-Bridge this year?

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The Broadcast Television Journalists Association moved up the Critics’ Choice nominations to Nov. 14 so they could be the first major nominations this year. The critics might have done us pundits and prognosticators a favor by dropping a clue as to what the Globes might choose to champion — “Fleabag” and Waller-Bridge scored surprise nominations in Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Actress, respectively.

“Fleabag” is the title character played by its creator Waller-Bridge. She is a struggling café owner in London trying to get her life together. The show is based on a play of the same name for which Waller-Bridge earned a Laurence Oliver nomination (British equivalent to a Tony nomination). What sets the show apart is Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” frequently breaks the fourth wall, speaking directly to the viewers and allowing us into her mind.

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We might be underestimating “Fleabag.” It scored a whopping 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a favorable 88 rating on MetaCritic. Tim Goodman (Hollywood Reporter) praised the show: “’Fleabag’s’ creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is so intoxicatingly hilarious and lovely — a mixture of wildly inappropriate and devilishly adorable — that you mostly don’t see the onrushing sadness until it’s too late and you’re devastated.” Sophie Gilbert (The Atlantic) comments, “Waller-Bridge’s awkwardness, her moments of rampant egoism followed by crushing bleakness, make Fleabag one of the most distinctive female characters in recent memory.” And Mike Hale (New York Times) writes, “What sets the show apart isn’t the surface quality of its humor but its restless, almost feral energy and its slap-in-the-face attitude.”

Currently Gold Derby’s exclusive odds have “Fleabag” and Waller-Bridge as underdogs for nominations: both have odds of 33/1. But it is important to remember the Golden Globes do like to award comedy series and their acting creators: the U.K. version of “The Office” and Ricky Gervais won in 2003, Lena Dunham and “Girls” both won in 2012, and while “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was not nominated for Best Comedy Series last year its creator Rachel Bloom still took home Best TV Comedy Actress.

Standing in “Fleabag” and Waller-Bridge’s way are three other shows starring their creators: “Insecure” with Issa Rae; “One Mississippi” with Tig Notaro (an Amazon series just like “Fleabag”); and another British import and recent Emmy nominee for Best Comedy Writing, “Catastrophe” with Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney.

Make your Golden Globe predictions now; change them till Dec. 12

Make your Golden Globes TV Awards picks now and tell industry insiders which shows and performers you have out front to win on January 8. You can keep changing them until just before nominations are announced on December 12 at 5 am PT/8 am ET. But it is important to register your initial predictions now to let Hollywood know who has the inside track for these kudos. Be sure to make your predictions right here. You’ll compete for a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s nominees). Read our contest rules.

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