This New Series Blends ‘Fleabag’ and OnlyFans—and It Works

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/BBC America
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/BBC America

Once again, the BBC has transformed a one-woman stage show into a whole mini-series. The last adaptation was the triumphant Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s play-turned-series about a fourth-wall-breaking woman on the verge of a life crisis. Why not try this again? Enter Mood, based on Nicôle Lecky’s one-woman show Superhoe.

For the most part, the stage-to-screen formula works again. Mood courageously introduces us to a highly unlikable woman protagonist, Sasha (Lecky), and, somehow, convinces us to empathize with her. Sasha’s got quite a bit on her plate—she hates her mom (Jessica Hynes) and her grungy step-dad (Paul Kaye), as well as their annoying tweeny-bopper daughter (Mia Jenkins). They kick Sasha out of the house after she’s accused of arson, a fire she may or may not have set at her boyfriend Anton’s (Jordan Duvigneau) home. On the street and broke, Sasha loses herself in a humdrum world far away from the superstardom that she craves.

She wants to be a singer, rapper, songwriter extraordinaire. All she is right now, though, is tired, lost, and out of money. Quickly, though, Sasha finds a way to make boatloads of cash and get a little famous while doing it, too: OnlyFans. (The show uses a knockoff, but the platforms are essentially the same; people—usually women—post intimate photos and videos of themselves for paid subscribers.) Carly (Lara Peake), a woman Sasha meets while hanging out with her drug dealers, convinces her to join the platform after the pair move in together. Soon enough, they’re using their collective following to sell videos of themselves, meet sugar daddies, and go viral for hot posts online.

All the while, Sasha can’t grapple with the fact that Anton upended her life. Not only is he ignoring her calls, but he’s also filed a restraining order against her, thanks to her alleged arson attempt. Somewhat akin to I May Destroy You, Mood portrays trauma as an unfolding, non-linear state of being. Sasha remembers her life with Anton in pieces, a mystery that must be put back together—and it takes a major toll on her.

<div class="inline-image__credit">BBC America</div>
BBC America

As intriguing as this concept was in I May Destroy You, it doesn’t quite work quite as well in Mood, with its much flimsier storytelling. After two episodes, the Anton storyline starts to rattle on and on into monotony—he won’t respond to her texts, she may have cheated; it’s all fuzzy and but too vague to be intriguing. Still, Lecky’s dedication to portraying Sasha’s emotional crisis never wavers. She pulls off a masterful performance full of small actions—clicking through a phone screen full of sent messages but never received, drowning herself in unfulfilling work—but the backstory bogs her character down.

Most of the show, however, forces Sasha to deal with Carly, her polar opposite and still, somehow, her closest confidante. Where Sasha is guarded and passionate about building her career, Carly is outgoing and passionate about making money. Peake and Lecky are a great match as the two women leads of the series—it’s fun to watch Carly encourage Sasha in simple tasks, like picking her OnlyFans username (Caramel Lexi is the winner), but it’s also inspiring to watch the two band together to overcome life’s biggest challenges (read: men).

She Went From Homeless to Millionaire Thanks to OnlyFans

Sasha and Carly’s ventures into online sex work, eventually expanding into offline sex work, carry Mood. Attempting to navigate the perilous nature of adulthood and always wanting to be seen, Sasha seeks solace in the fast fame of OnlyFans, finding comfort in her quick friendship with Carly. But there are consequences: She’s unprepared for the intimate connection her fans feel they have with her, and she mistakes her videos going viral for actual fame. This inner look at the online porn industry—with Sasha still figuring it out alongside Carly, who feels greatly empowered by the hustle—is as thrilling as it is informative.

Mood blends in musical elements, expertly weaving them into Sasha’s flighty state of mind with daydream interludes. Lecky is a talented performer and creator; as if this wasn’t enough, she happens to have a deep, heavenly singing voice as well. The shift into musical interludes feels akin to Fleabag’s fourth-wall breaks: We get a peek into Sasha’s inner thoughts, as well as a fantastical element that, somewhat magically, gives the show a new depth of emotion. (If you’re like me and want to listen to all of Sasha’s bops, the Mood soundtrack is already on Spotify.)

<div class="inline-image__credit">BBC America</div>
BBC America

One aspect where Mood differentiates itself from Fleabag is its length—whereas Fleabag’s episodes only span around a half hour, Mood is a full six-episode-long season made up of 45-minute episodes. Here, Mood feels too long and, in the process, indulges in a bit too much drama for its own good. Though the series reads like a dramedy, most of the episodes are thoroughly dramatic. It becomes tedious to watch at times, unlike the effortlessly creative I May Destroy You or the breezy Fleabag.

Still, with both shows gone from our zeitgeist, we need a new protagonist to guide us through the perils of womanhood. Sasha should be her, with Nicôle Lecky breaking out as an incredibly talented writer, singer, and actress. Mood may not live up to the Fleabag comparisons, but with the musical aspect and OnlyFans addition, the series freshens up the material enough to be enticing.

Mood will debut on BBC America and AMC+ Nov. 6.

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