The Flight Attendant Takes You Away with Fast-Paced, If Somewhat Empty, International Shenanigans

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While so many shows are leaning hard into the realities of 2020, The Flight Attending sweeps viewers away to another world, one in which trans-Atlantic flights and all-night parties still exist without any worries.

Yes, the new HBO Max show is here to breathe fresh air into your life, something that seems counter-intuitive to the concept of air travel.

But The Flight Attendant doesn't spend a lot of time flying high, not nearly as much as Kaley Cuoco's Cassandra "Cassie" Bowden, a good-time girl who earns her living in the title role.

Cassie On the Job - The Flight Attendant

Cassie only considers time when she's needed on a flight. Otherwise, she's busy burying her head dancing, dining, over-drinking alcohol, and engaging in one-night stands.

Through the first four episodes that I had a chance to watch for this review, there wasn't a steadfast indication as two what Cassie has been running from, only that from her career path to her social activities, running is what she does best.

Her brother, Davey (T.R. Knight) struggles with that aspect of his sister. Married with two children, they plan a visit to New York City to visit Cassie, but every step of the way, he checks in with her to ensure she's still going to be there and that they're welcome in her life.

It's not exactly the warmest family dynamic, and the why of that is revealed in at least a little detail that also conveys where Cassie got her bad habits -- from her father.

Taking the Edge Off - The Flight Attendant

Little snippets of her life are uncovered when she finds herself in anxiety-ridden situation, and after meeting a man who might change her wild ways only to discover him dead in bead after a beautiful day together, there is a lot to make Cassie anxious, especially since she's experiencing a blackout over the details.

Michiel Huisman plays Alex, and their one night in Bangkok (which was a song first and then a movie, neither of which have anything to do with The Flight Attendant) has the potential to be her undoing.

To say Cassie doesn't make the smartest decisions in wake of the tragedy would suggest that she made better decisions pre-tragedy, and that's just no the case.

Still, she flees the hotel, leaving a bloody Alex behind, and when the FBI wants to question the crew of her flight when they land, she tries to flee the airport, too.

On the Run Again - The Flight Attendant

If first impressions are important, Cassie does nothing to help her case. With the exception of Alex, her the impression she leaves on others is not just of a carefree young woman, but a careless one, as well.

Her coworkers, including Rosie Perez's Megan and Cassie's best friend, Annie (Zosia Mamet) try to give Cassie a hand up, but she rarely accepts the help, even when she needs it the most.

Luckily, Annie is an attorney, and the friendship card is all she needs to bank on good representation when the FBI continues questioning Cassie after suspecting she knows more than she's willing to share about Alex's death.

The irony of all of this is that it seemed like Alex would have been the man who could have helped Cassie find her mooring. They connected deeply quite fast.

Trying to Help - The Flight Attendant

Maybe that's why Cassie continues her "relationship" with Alex well beyond his death.

While Cassie could be suffering a dissociative disorder resulting from trauma, it's likely something much different than that. Because Alex helps her sort out what happened kindly and with concern.

He's her subconscious, and that part of her buried deep that she's been trying to long to keep under the rug.

Cassie is going through something that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but my hunch is that meeting Alex, finding him dead, and going on an around-the-world adventure to find answers will finally shake her out of her life-long stupor.

The Flight Attendant is definitely a starring vehicle for Cuoco, and it's a good one, practically erasing all notions you still have of her as Penny on The Big Bang Theory.

One Night in Bangkok - The Flight Attendant

Arguably, she's already done a great job with the starring role in Harley Quinn, but it's easier to disregard the actor from the voice in an animated comedy.

She carries almost every scene on her capable shoulders, and without her energy, Cassie would be a much different character.

While the majority of the scenes early on in The Flight Attendant are breezy and somewhat forgettable, there are hints of depth that I'd expect to unfold as the series progresses.

Nobody can keep up the kind of flighty existence Cassie has for the long-term, and the same can be said of The Flight Attendant series.

There is a conspiracy running through the narrative dealing with international espionage that could be played for laughs no matter how many bodies pile up, but Cassie's addictions (because I'd argue that alcohol is just the tip of the iceberg) and their resulting relationship and career issues feel like the foundation for everything else.

Lifeless Alex - The Flight Attendant
With Alex in her mind, she's finding clarity she might not have otherwise experienced, and the superficiality of her life should slowly be replaced by deeper, more meaningful experiences in the future.

If The Flight Attendant continues in that direction, it could be an extraordinary show. For now, it's a fast-paced romp through a world that no longer exists, leaning on a conspiracy plotline that is somewhat empty. While that's still well worth the investment, if it achieves the teased depty, it will be much more.

The first three episodes of The Flight Attendant drop on HBO Max on Thursday, November 16, with a new episode each week thereafter.

But if you've got an itch to take a quick look, the premiere is currently streaming, for free, on

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Flight Attendant Quotes

Cassie: Oh, fuck. Who are you?
Ethan: I'm Ethan from last night.
Cassie: How did you get in here?
Ethan: We met at the bar.
Cassie: Yes, but you're in my apartment.
Ethan: You texted me right here, you told me to use the key above the door thing, the door frame. We were supposed to meet here at 2.
Cassie: Ethan, oh my god. OK, I'm starting to remember, I was very, very drunk. That's on me. OK, I'm sorry, I remember you now.

Cassie: Davey, hi, I really can't talk. I'm going to miss my flight.
Davey: Oh, yeah, I just wanted to check in about the New York trip real quick, cause, you know, Rick's getting nervous.
Cassie: Nervous? What are you talking about, and it's like weeks away. Isn't it?
Davey: Yeah, yes, it's four days away.
Cassie: Oh, shit, really?
Davey: Yeah, and the girls are excited to see their aunt Cassie, but they're beginning to realize she's a terrible planner.
Cassie: OK, put those knives away right now. That is not fair.