Ben Stiller‘s, 53, ill-timed joke about Emmy-winning series Fleabag didn’t sit well with fans of the Phoebe Waller-Bridge series. While reading from a teleprompter during the Emmy Awards opening, the actor took a stab at the Amazon series before presenting the first award of the night for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy series. Ben referenced the show as a ‘comedy about a sex addict,’ to which fans responded with great frustration. A number of Fleabag devotees took to Twitter to address the comment, citing that the series doesn’t even consider Phoebe’s titular character as a sex addict. In the two seasons of the Amazon series, which Phoebe created, wrote and starred in, the actress and writer plays a young woman living in London. Throughout the series’ run, Phoebe’s character juggled romantic entanglements, her dysfunctional family, her small business and past, traumatic transgressions.
After the jab, fans of the series immediately took to Twitter, with one saying, “did Ben Stiller just say that Fleabag is a ‘comedy about a sex addict?’ lol what?” Another fan chimed in, tweeting, “Fleabag is as much a show about a sex addict as it is about a fish riding a bicycle.” One fan even posted a gif from the acclaimed film Call Me By Your Name, which featured actor Timothee Chalamet crying, with the caption, “Ben Stiller describing Fleabag as a comedy about a sex addict,” followed by the gif. One Twitter user, however, did note that the blame wasn’t totally on the Night at the Museum star. “People in my tl seem to believe Ben Stiller wrote the line about Fleabag being a sex addict, so I worry it would break their hearts to know a) presenters don’t write their copy; which means b) that line went through dozens of brains who all went, ‘Yup, perfect.'”
Fleabag quickly became a celebrated work of comedy by industry professionals and critics alike when it premiered in 2016. For its second season, the series picked up Emmys for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, along with three more honors – a total of six. Without making direct reference to Ben’s joke, the actress quipped during one of her acceptance speeches, “It’s just really wonderful to know that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys, so thank you so much.”
The multi-talented, newly minted Emmy winner also helmed the popular cat-and-mouse crime thriller Killing Eve and has gone on to join the creative team behind the next 007 movie as a writer. While the blame isn’t solely on Ben for the ill-timed quip, the series’ best take away should be the awards it received and not the joke. Maybe Ben will take a look at Fleabag if he hasn’t already? At any rate, Phoebe Waller-Bridge definitely had the last laugh by taking home multiple Emmys for her superb series.