Face it: Roisin Conaty’s GameFace is a cheap Fleabag knock-off - 3/5

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Roisin Conaty's GameFace has returned to Channel 4 but after Fleabag it pales in comparison

Channel 4's GameFace, written and starring comedian Roisin Conaty, is back for a second series after the success of 2017's first outing for the unpredictable Marcella.

However, while watching the first episode of the new series, you can't help but feel that you've seen this show before and done better in the hands of Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the form of the BBC show Fleabag. 

The stark similarities between the two shows are plain to see but we'll get to them in a moment. It's the differences between Fleabag and GameFace that make each of them stand out and unfortunately for the latter there simply aren't enough unique elements to really get excited about.

But just how do the two shows differ and what similarities do they share? Join us on a journey exploring the intricacies of how Fleabag totally wipes the floor with GameFace!


How are they different?

Waller-Bridge v Conaty

The first and most obvious difference between the two shows are the respective leading ladies. While Phoebe Waller-Bridge is known almost exclusively as a writer and actress, Roisin has earned a reputation as a leading stand-up comedian and has also appeared in the BBC version of Impractical Jokers and was among the cast of comedians in the first series of Taskmaster.

Therefore, you've just got this nagging in the back of your mind thinking where else you've seen Roisin Conaty whereas with Fleabag the attention is far more focused on the character herself.

Fleabag v Marcella

On the subject of which, the characters of Fleabag and Marcella - whose lives are both quite similar, but we'll get onto that in a moment - conduct themselves on the respective shows a little differently.

While Marcella, who is a struggling actress, is very much a character in the show, Fleabag's constant fourth-wall breaking offers up so much more, especially in the second series when the newly arrived priest picks-up on it, as it drives a deeper connection with the character.   

Fleabag V GameFace

How are they similar?

While there are certain differences in the two shows, it is the similarities between them that emphasises Fleabag's comedic dominance over GameFace. 


The first and most obvious conclusion to draw between the two shows stems from the regular themes and plot points dotted throughout the respective series. As it just so happens, Marcella and Fleabag's relationships are the key topic in both shows and they're both treated in similar fashion.

Both shows have a similar relationship dynamic. Both Fleabag and Marcella have both recently suffered a break-up with a long-time partner and are on the lookout for the next person to satisfy their respective desires. For Fleabag, at least in series 2, it's The Priest, played wonderfully by Andrew Scott we might add, while GameFace has Marcella chasing the affection of her driving instructor.

The way in which Fleabag and The Priest tip-toe around their forbidden love affair is superb to watch while Marcella's attempts to woo her driving instructor just come off as a bit clumsy. 

Therapist/Someone to vent to

Another surprising similarity between the two is that they both make use of a therapist at points, or at the very least someone to vent their frustrations to.

GameFace opts for a fairly standard approach with Marcella visiting her therapist (Karl Theobald) for regular check-ups that just feel a bit awkward and weird.

Fleabag's interpretation of a therapy session sees Waller-Bridge's character bat off suggestions of instability in brilliantly quick-witted fashion and when she's not actually seeing a therapist, she's venting frustrations to us, the audience, and it makes for a far more engaging experience.


Which is better?

As you've probably guessed by now, we're definitely on the side of Fleabag in this instance.

GameFace is certainly funny and offers up plenty of titter-worthy moments but it simply fails to enthral in the same manner Fleabag could.

In the end, it comes down to the slightly sharper writing talent, meaning no disrespect to Roisin Conaty, of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. At the end of the day, she's now the one re-working the script to Bond 25.

But each to their own, if you love GameFace then brilliant, but it'll take a bit more convincing to tear us away from our allegiance to Fleabag. Both shows, Fleabag and GameFace, as it happens are available to watch in their entirety on BBC iPlayer and All 4 respectively.

Oh, and on a final note, something that did catch our attention from the first episode of GameFace's second series was a brief reference to Killing Eve, a show that just happens to have been written by non-other than Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a little nod to the Fleabag writer by any chance?

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