The Flight Attendant’s Second Season Fails to Take Off | TV/Streaming

Benjamin Berry (Mo McRae) is Cassie’s handler and continually advises her to stick to her directives, but Cassie—and here’s the kicker—has a new addiction: danger! Megan is hiding in an undisclosed but comfy location: record player, woolen sweaters, fireplace, cozy furniture. For reasons initially unknown, an unnamed woman (Margaret Cho) comes to check on her every day. Mae Martin plays Grace, a new flight attendant colleague who may or may not have a secret life. 

Mamet’s Ani is saddled with being an indecisive Debbie Downer; most of her dialogue, in conversations with her chipper boyfriend Max is comprised of “um” and “uh” and “Okay, but, like.” This is an actor who held her own on “Mad Men” and was the only funny part of “Girls.” The number of regressive tropes assigned to Ani’s storyline becomes unbearable. “The Flight Attendant” also squanders the considerable talent of Griffin Matthews, whose work as fellow flight attendant and CIA asset Shane is the most restrained, and possibly by necessity understated, performance in the series.

The massive success of the first season bought writers who came up with a fresh new take on self-examination: Cassie experiences visions a la the titular character on Disney’s “That’s So Raven.” The camera zooms in on Cassie’s eyes and she flashes to an empty hotel lobby, in which she converses with three Cassies: a teenage version, the season one version in that sequined dress, and a Cassie we haven’t met, dressed in black. Issa Rae used a simplified version of this trope on “Insecure” for five seasons and killed it every single time. But on “The Flight Attendant,” there is no such attention to detail, nor usage of Cuoco’s considerable charm. HBO money can buy chic draped coats and red leather gloves for its stars but it mustn’t be used on examining interior conflicts in an innovative way. That same money can’t buy decent editing, because every single frame of “The Flight Attendant” is cut into two or more squares or rectangles, because that means the show is fashionable and sleek. It also can’t buy decent music, because every single frame of “The Flight Attendant” is backed by what sounds like a “Catch Me If You Can”/John Williams tribute band, complete with, inexplicably, beatboxing. When the series could benefit from dropping background music altogether, it persists, diluting the impact of its most important scenes.

Addiction is a disease, not a choice. The actions of an addict affect their psyche, their bodies, their souls, but they also affect the lives of their loved ones, and sometimes, the empathy tank on an addict’s loved ones flashes ‘empty.’ There is more emotional violence and brutal sucker punches of honesty in the sixth episode of “The Flight Attendant” than entire seasons of other shows. Chic tracking shots are traded for handheld cameras that follow every enraged exhale, every falling tear. I could almost forgive the inert storytelling of the five episodes before it. But I cannot, because it is an insult to Cuoco, especially, for the writing to relegate her to cartoonish ditzy bumbling blonde territory for five hours, and saving the raw devastation of Cassie’s interiority for its final moments. “The Flight Attendant” will undoubtedly be renewed for a third season, but I know now which scenes to look out for, and which to ignore.

Six episodes screened for review. The first two episodes of the second season of “The Flight Attendant” premiere today, April 21st.

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