The black-and-white music video stars Paul Mescal, the gorgeous Normal People co-lead who shot to fame earlier this year thanks to his brilliant performance and now-infamous neck chain.
Mescal went from being a relative unknown to achieving a rare kind of superstardom this year; his boyish good looks and complexity made him the subject of many a profile.
As if that weren't enough of a high-profile collaboration, the video was directed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of Fleabag and the subject of many a Phoebe Bridge-related joke.
phoebe waller-bridge is the best phoebe bridge— traitor joe (@traitor joe)1559255143.0
This has been a huge month for Bridgers, whose album, Punisher, was met with critical acclaim and garnered her several Grammy noms. Her orchestral EP Copycat Killer just came out, and a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" with Maggie Rogers raised $173,703.59 for Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight organization, which is mobilizing voters in Georgia.
Bridgers and Mescal met earlier this year in Ireland, which sparked many dating rumors. No one knows for sure what they actually talked about, but perhaps Bridgers asked him to star in her music video.
Bridgers has also long been a fan of Waller-Bridge, and apparently, according to the press release, "the feeling was mutual." "After connecting over email during Covid quarantine, the two hatched a plan to collaborate together on a music video for 'Savior Complex,'" the press release reads.
"The result, starring Emmy-nominated Irish actor Paul Mescal and introducing an exceptional new talent known only as Charlotte is released today exclusively on Facebook," the statement continues. Charlotte is a small fluffy dog, who is obviously the true star here.
Rock CellarPaul Mescal
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Phoebe Bridgers, and Paul Mescal all seem to love projects that involve sad, horny white people making mistakes, crying, having sex, and being very wry, so it makes sense that they all collaborated—though the video is surprisingly not all that horny given its subjects' typical interests.
The video is, true to form, a bit sad, a bit funny, and a bit surreal. It follows a beat-up Paul Mescal and his relationship with a small, fluffy dog, and takes place in what appears to be Ireland. In the beginning, Mescal, beat-up and looking destitute, steals a car and drives to a hotel, only to discover the little dog he met on the beach has come with him.
Eventually, we realize Mescal faked all his injuries for some reason, perhaps as part of a heist. He eventually befriends the dog and becomes fond of her, but then the dog steals all Mescal's belongings and brings them back to Bridgers as part of another heist. The video ends with Bridgers and the pup sitting by the seaside, both wearing capes.
What does it all mean? Perhaps it's about the way that we, as people, betray and fool each other. Maybe it's about the way that everyone is playing a role, performing weaknesses and vying for sympathy in efforts to scam each other. People with "savior complexes" only feel good about themselves when they're saving others, even if that help ends up being harmful.
In the song, Bridgers says she's a "bad liar with a savior complex," and then says, "All the skeletons that you hide, Show me yours, I'll show you mine." The song seems to follow a destructive relationship wherein both partners are tormented by their own demons.
According to Bridgers, the song is about "dating someone who hates themselves," and it does encapsulate the strange loops that define those kinds of relationships. Dating someone who hates themselves is also something that Phoebe Waller-Bridge's main character in Fleabag and Paul Mescal's Connell in Normal People can relate to, so it all coheres in the end.
All in all, it's a fine collaboration by some of this year's most beloved breakout stars, all of whom — somewhat ironically — have found great success by expressing extreme self-loathing in their songs and characters. Perhaps Mescal's fake wounds in the video represent the fact that artists often perform and exploit their and their characters' emotional wounds for audiences to gawk over.
Regardless, the Phoebe Bridgers Extended Universe is growing at a simply unstoppable pace; all we can do is watch in awe.
Watch the video here.