The Flight Attendant

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Kaley Cuoco in The Flight Attendant.
Kaley Cuoco in The Flight Attendant.
Photo: M-Net


The Flight Attendant




4/5 Stars


Flight attendant, Cassie Barden wakes up in a Bangkok hotel room with a dead man next to her. As the authorities start to pin the crime on her, Cassie works to solve the crime and clear her name.


One might have a lot of expectations going into The Flight Attendant. It stars Kaley Cuoco, who is known as a comedic actor, so you might think it's a straight comedy – but it's not. It involves a murder and a pretty gruesome crime scene, so you might think it's a straight drama – but it's not. It seems to sort of straddle the line between comedy and drama so well that it takes you on a journey along with Cassie.

The Flight Attendant tells the story of Cassie (Kaley Cuoco), a flight attendant who lives a fast life – drinking, partying, one-night stands – until everything comes to a halt when she wakes up from one of her one-night-stands with her lover's dead body next to her on the bed. Cassie also blacked out the night before and does not remember much about the evening or how her date ended up dead.

The show uses devices similar to other recent series like The Undoing, I May Destroy You and Big Little Lies, where the audience is as much in the dark as the main character, and we are piecing together what happened with her. It is an interesting device because even though the character was there when the event took place, they almost become like an audience substitute, trying to solve the mystery with us. It also helped to make the character of Cassie, especially, more likeable, because we share her desperation; it makes us more forgiving of some of her problematic acts.

The anchor of the series is definitely Kaley Cuoco. Cuoco is known for her comedic roles on popular sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory and 8 Simple Rules, but The Flight Attendant is definitely where she could put her strengths on display. Cassie is fun and zany, but she is also deeply troubled and has experienced some very heavy trauma. Cuoco plays both parts of the character and transitions seamlessly between them. Cassie spirals and constantly shifts from needing to go out and party and drink or have deeply introspective moments. I must confess there were times when I found Cassie unbearable. Her terrible decisions and the fact that she constantly ignored the advice of others, while perhaps in character for an irrational person, just seemed frustrating to watch. This is why I think Cuoco was so perfect for this role; if this role were miscast, the audience would easily grow frustrated with Cassie and give up watching, but Cuoco brings likeability to the character that makes you root for her despite the decisions she makes. Her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations were well-deserved.

Cuoco is flanked by an excellent supporting cast. Zosia Mamet (Girls) plays Cassie's best friend, Annie, a lawyer who is attempting to help Cassie clear her name legally with the FBI. Mamet is known for her sarcastic and wry humour, which she puts to excellent use in this season, but she also has some stunningly emotional scenes, which shows what a strong actor she is, and I would love to see her in more projects going forward. Similarly, TR Knight (Grey's Anatomy), as Cassie's brother Davey, who is still hurt by the trauma of their past, is so powerfully emotional that he sort of anchors the character of Cassie. It was difficult to single those two out because the entire cast is sensational – from Rosie Perez, who plays the older flight attendant friend of Cassie, Megan, who is searching for a bit of adventure in her life; to Michiel Huisman as Alex Sokolov, Cassie's murdered lover who appears as her conscience throughout the series; and the always delightful Michelle Gomez, who is a villain-esque character who reminded me a lot of Villanelle from Killing Eve.

The show has a kind of 1960's caper feel about it, or a more contemporary comparison would be to the film Catch Me If You Can. The score is similar to the classic murder mysteries, and they use split screens and fast-cuts. The cinematography illuminates the bright colours of the flight attendant uniform, the warmness of Rome, and red blood on the sheets. The fast-paced energy of the series makes the audience feel as stressed and anxious and the characters; it's a brilliant device that skilful filmmakers are using.

Even though, at times, the script might veer off-course and some loose ends might seem a bit too loose, I do think that The Flight Attendant works well as a murder mystery series. It kept the audience guessing, has an unreliable narrator and has a cast of characters you can root for. I look forward to seeing how they approach season two.


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