Crashing: Phoebe Waller-Bridge's first TV series feels like catching up with a fun friend

It never got the same exposure as Fleabag, but the short, bingeable show is streaming in Australia – and now is the perfect time to watch it

Phoebe Waller-Bridge had two TV series premiere in 2016: Fleabag and Crashing. One saw her showered in Emmys and Baftas and Golden Globes. It established the British playwright and Fringe favourite as a Hollywood heavy hitter. The other … you probably haven’t heard of before now.

Crashing only had one season and it never got great exposure in Australia. But the short, bingeable show is now on Netflix and, with a week-long wait between new episodes of Killing Eve, this is a perfect time for PWB fans to catch up.

Crashing follows a group of twentysomethings who live in a disused London hospital as property guardians: an arrangement that allows people to cheaply rent empty and often dilapidated buildings. They’re “not squatters”, as Kate, the most uptight resident, likes to defensively remind everyone.

The series opens as ukulele-playing free spirit Lulu (Waller-Bridge) travels to surprise her childhood friend Anthony. Anthony is engaged to Kate: a woman who looks a lot like Lulu but is her exact opposite. She’s kind, but “anal” and awkward despite her best efforts. The first episode ends with her wielding Lulu’s ukulele, while pouring tequila on the floor and screaming “I’m the fun one!!!” to a group of bewildered partygoers.

On the surface, there’s nothing that new or exciting about Crashing. It’s an ensemble comedy about the love and sex lives of a group of mostly white millennials in a big city. I mean, it’s nice to see a realistic portrayal of the depressing London real estate market – on release, Crashing was called “a generation-rent Friends for austerity Britain” – but the appeal of the show is all in Waller-Bridge’s writing.

Like Fleabag, Crashing is sharp and darkly funny. It’s bursting with sad and self-conscious people awkwardly grappling for a connection. Colin, a depressed middle-aged divorcee, is taken into the house by Melody, a young French artist who paints his pain. Another property guardian, Sam, struggles to mourn the death of his dad and instead sleazes on to women. When he starts having feelings for a male flatmate, he lashes out with laddish homophobia.

This cocktail of sex, grief and deflection is found in Fleabag too – and it’s not the only overlap between the two shows. Kate would definitely get along with Fleabag’s sister, Claire. Lulu, like Fleabag, is a “vulnerable rascal” who’s flailing around with her own issues and often hurting people in the process. And the relationship between Lulu and Anthony has some shades of Hot Priest.

Andrew Scott’s priest is a much richer and more satisfying character, but Anthony is Irish and forbidden (albeit not by divine providence). And the sexual tension between Lulu and Anthony is similar too: it’s all smiles and teasing and blunt truths. That alone makes the show worth watching.

In the end, it makes sense that it was Fleabag that launched Waller-Bridge’s international career. It’s a more complex creation, and its first season left more space to grow. But Crashing has a familiar, ragged charm that’s comforting right now.

At a time when everyone’s grappling for their own connections, it feels like catching up with a fun old friend.

• Crashing is streaming on Netflix Australia


Meg Watson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag to return to Soho theatre
The filthy comedy – a hit for the BBC this summer – will be staged at the venue where it first started out as a monologue

Chris Wiegand

07, Oct, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag quiz of 2016
The creator of this year’s cult TV hit turns quizmaster for this end-of-year general knowledge roundup

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

21, Dec, 2016 @12:41 PM

Article image
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag play to be streamed online
The show, which played a sold-out run at London’s Wyndham’s theatre, is being streamed to raise money for those affected by Covid-19

Chris Wiegand

06, Apr, 2020 @3:27 PM

Article image
Street Food: Netflix series is a televisual tonic amid postponed travel plans
Has your great getaway been put on hold indefinitely? Netflix’s adventures in roadside cuisine will zest up enforced downtime

Tess McLaughlan

14, May, 2020 @5:30 PM

Article image
Netflix’s Samurai Gourmet: hypnotically dreamy show makes kitchens feel like Neverland
In this spellbinding, lovingly shot series, a recently retired man decides to eat something new every day – and captivates your senses along the way

Aleksandra Bliszczyk

30, Apr, 2020 @12:26 AM

Article image
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: yes, the musical series is cheesy. But it's also a glorious lockdown escape
It’s unapologetically camp, but the show also dives deeper, to deliver a joyful exploration of life through music, in strange – and mournful – times

Amal Awad

29, Apr, 2020 @3:05 AM

Article image
Sexy, subversive … and sad: Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag in West End premiere
The first night, playing to a celebrity-packed audience, felt like a coronation but Waller-Bridge still has the ability to spring surprises

Michael Billington

28, Aug, 2019 @10:47 PM

Article image
What Fleabag did next: future looks bright for Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Creator of hit sitcom not short of offers and hints Fleabag could return – when she is 50

Gwilym Mumford

09, Apr, 2019 @4:37 PM

Article image
Phoebe Waller-Bridge says she is writing new feature film and plans to direct it
Fleabag and Killing Eve creator says she ‘blatantly will end up’ acting in her film

Guardian film

15, Aug, 2019 @2:33 AM

Article image
Killing Eve review – dazzling thriller from Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The slick miniseries, starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, follows an MI5 spy and a dangerously proficient assassin in a female-dominated game of cat-and-mouse

Jake Nevins

05, Apr, 2018 @10:30 AM