Movies

‘The Flight Attendant Season 1 & 2’ review: Kaley Cuoco stands out in her portrayal of a chaotic character

A still from the series

A still from the series | Photo Credit: Amazon Prime Video

We were all introduced to Kaley Cuoco in the same way. For 12 seasons of the hit show, The Big Bang Theory, she was the pretty blonde girl next door. Playing the overused American stereotype, Cuoco did not have too much space to exhibit her acting talent. Therefore, it seems like her decision to produce and star in HBO Max’s dark comedy The Flight Attendant was made to show the world what she could do.

The Flight Attendant
Creator: Steve Yockey
Cast: Kaley Cuoco, Zosia Mamet, Deniz Akdeniz, Michelle Gomez
Number of episodes: 8 episodes each season
Storyline: A flight attendant with a drinking problem spends a night with a passenger, only to wake up next to his dead body

This drama series is based on a book of the same name by Chris Bohjalian, and in 2017, Cuoco’s production company optioned the rights and was soon joined by WarnerMedia. During production, Cuoco was cast as Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Bowden, the titular alcoholic flight attendant. She was joined by a strong supporting cast consisting of Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, Michelle Gomez, Michiel Huisman, Denis Akdeniz, and T.R Knight Griffin Mathews who feature in both seasons of the acclaimed show. The show has been nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, with Cuoco receiving Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress for both seasons.

While the show premiered in November 2020 and was renewed for season two the very next month, Indians weren’t able to watch it until Amazon Prime recently announced that the series would be available on their platform, alongside other popular HBO Max shows.

Cassandra Bowden is a flight attendant with Imperial Atlantic who also happens to have a serious drinking problem. She’s pretty, funny and extremely attractive, leading one of her passengers on her flight to Bangkok to invite her to spend the night with him. Cassie breaks the rules to see Alex Sokolov, a rich handsome man.... but wakes up next to his violently-murdered dead body. Her first mistake is when she tries to clear evidence from the hotel room and by the time she lands in New York, the FBI are on the case. However, she isn’t the only flight attendant harbouring a secret. Megan (Perez) has been living a double life as an escape from her boring family and flight schedules. The show follows Cassie making mistakes as she tries to prove her innocence to the FBI while also seeking answers to the questions in her head; “Why did this happen to me?!” being one of them.

The nightmare ends, but a new one begins. Season two follows Cassie’s much-improved life. But under the normal life with a boyfriend, her job, and regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, she is a CIA asset, a job made easier as she travels across the world anyway. Someone is out to get her by impersonating her to kill others, and Cassie plays detective by trying to figure it out herself. Again.

Binging the show could give you a slight headache as each episode is heavy with emotion, action and suspense. The writing allows each character to have their moment, allowing for stories other than Cassie’s to be told. This way, the viewer doesn’t get too overwhelmed by the catastrophic decisions she makes. For example, looking into her gay brother’s disturbed childhood helps us understand how the adult came to be; we get an idea of the relationships Cassie has with the supporting characters and how they fit into her narrative.

Probably the stand-out of the show is Cassie herself, or rather, Cuoco’s portrayal of Cassie. Due to the serious issues stemming from her traumatic childhood, Cassie depends on alcohol to sustain her. It’s interesting that we get to see what goes in her mind In season one, she is haunted by the dead Alex Sokolov, as she navigates his case and begins to fall in love with him? (She is doubtful of this too). In season two, several versions of Cassie — as a teenager, an alcoholic, a successful woman — all speak to her, offering her conflicting advice. It is her portrayal of a broken woman, constantly holding the cracks together that has won her the Emmy nominations, and deservedly so.

Reminiscent of the pretty blonde girl is Cuoco’s talent for making such a scarred character look beautiful. While you love Cassie, you also start to hate her for making choices that put her loved ones in danger. You hate her to the point you no longer care about her, a testimony to Cuoco’s acting. Cassie does have redeeming qualities that help endear her to us, but it seems like the show can’t go on if she didn’t make two mistakes for one right.

Each episode is chaotic, maybe too much. But with skilful acting and impactful dialogues, The Flight Attendant tactfully entices the viewer and humours them. Cuoco, in an interview, gave the impression that Cassie will not return for season three and while it is an enjoyable watch, maybe it is time to put this story to a close.

The Flight Attendant Season 1 & 2 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 4:27:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-flight-attendant-season-1-2-review-kaley-cuoco-stands-out-in-her-portrayal-of-a-chaotic-character/article65749508.ece