(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The TV Show: The Flight Attendant
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: Kaley Cuoco is a frequently drunk flight attendant who wakes up in a bed next to a dead man. She has no memory of the murder and has to race to piece together what happened before she ends up taking the blame.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Need a fun, addictive TV distraction as we kiss 2020 goodbye? Look no further than The Flight Attendant, the HBO Max series that just wrapped and is already getting a second season. I realize that since the first season has ended many of you probably binged through The Flight Attendant by now, or watched it while it aired. But if you’ve yet to get around to checking it out, I’m here to tell you it’s worth your time.
I was only vaguely familiar with Kaley Cuoco before I watched The Flight Attendant on HBO Max. I knew she was on The Big Bang Theory, but since that show is poison, I’ve only seen clips here and there and have no plans to ever actually watch it. I also knew she voiced Harley Quinn on the excellent animated Harley Quinn series. But beyond that, she was mostly a mystery to me. So it was a pleasant surprise to watch The Flight Attendant and learn that Ms. Cuoco is actually a damn good performer, perfectly adept at carrying her own flashy series.
In The Flight Attendant, Cuoco is Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant (duh) who is prone to getting blackout drunk. The series sets Cassie up as a hot mess but as the story unfolds we learn more about her traumatic background and how she became so dependant on alcohol. But first, she wakes up next to a dead man. Cassie meets handsome guy Alex (Michiel Huisman) on one of her flights and ends up going out on a date with him when they land in Thailand. As is her usual custom, Cassie drinks too much – and blacks out. When she regains consciousness in Alex’s hotel room the next day she’s greeted with a shock – Alex is dead, his throat slit.
Cassie is understandably nervous and confused, and, after being convinced she’ll be blamed for the murder, she flees – hoping that by flying back to America she can leave this entire unpleasant experience behind her. But that’s easier said than done, and soon law enforcement (and others) are zeroing in on her while Cassie starts trying to figure out what really happened to Alex.
There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, and while some of them really force you to suspend your disbelief, it ultimately works, anchored by breezy pacing and Cucoco’s solid performance. Not everything on the show succeeds – there’s a subplot involving a character played by Rosie Perez that feels entirely unnecessary, even though Perez’s performance is memorable. But in the end, the show comes together nicely.
The series clearly did well for HBO Max, since they already went ahead and ordered a second season. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that – the idea of Cassie stumbling into yet another crazy mystery seems just a little too far-fetched. And yet, the first season is so much fun that I’m curious to see where it goes. And you will be, too, if you binge through season 1.
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