Kaley Cuoco Series Has an Identity Crisis

When Stewardess First released, it became clear from the get-go that the HBO Max series was aiming to fill a very specific television niche. A darkly comical murder mystery, adapted from the novel of the same name by chris bohjalianhad everything going for it in terms of its twisted, intriguing storytelling and all the necessary fun beats, and with a comedy veteran like Kaley Cuoco (fresh from his long tenure in Big Bang Theory) at the helm, the result was a spectacle unlike any other in recent memory. At first glance, Cuoco’s Cassie Bowden has the obvious aesthetic of many of Hitchcock’s trademark blondes, but the more time we spend in her presence, the more we realize that this young woman is not the cool, polished leading lady that one might think. guess at first sight. In other words: she’s something of a train wreck, and a self-proclaimed one at that, someone who has luck getting in and out of dangerous situations to a degree that could threaten anyone’s will to suspend disbelief from her. Fortunately, Cuoco has a knack for toeing the line between charming and maddening, forcing us to understand the root of Cassie’s struggle with alcoholism as we become involved in the larger spy game unfolding around her. However, with the show’s return, Stewardess it hesitates to pay equal attention to its numerous plotlines, leading to the second season suffering from something of an identity crisis overall.

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As Season 2 picks up with Cassie, the titular flight attendant is in a much better place than when we last left her. She packed her bags and left rainy New York City behind for a brighter, sunnier Los Angeles. She is dating a new man in sensitive artist Marco (Santiago Cabrera), and is steadily approaching the first anniversary of her path to sobriety, attending regular AA meetings and chatting with her sponsor Brenda (Shohreh Aghdashloo) about all the free donuts you can handle. As it happens, she’s now in cahoots with the CIA as well, though the reasons for that aren’t a bit clear, because even in her most sober state, Cassie seems like the least likely candidate the agency could leverage as a valuable asset, and that is in addition to taking into account your choice of high society profession. She casts her in a delicious role of opposites against her new handler, agent Benjamin Berry (Mo McRae), whose adherence to agency rules clashes with Cassie’s seeming inability to do anything to the letter, and who also ends up interfering on Cassie’s behalf on more than one occasion when it comes to her supervisor Dot (cheryl hines)’s concern about his involvement in sensitive assignments.



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Image via HBO Max

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It’s an apprehension that isn’t entirely unfounded, either, as season 2 opens with Cassie once again on her head in the immediate aftermath of a mission that seemingly went wrong. This time, she knows without a doubt that she had absolutely nothing to do with the unexpected death of the target in question, but there is another mysterious woman out there who is clearly trying to frame her for the murder, down to the last detail. well-applied blonde wig and the same butterfly tattoo on her back. However, while Season 1 revolved around the central issue of trying to discover who was truly responsible for the body Cassie woke up in bed next to, with its B-plots accentuating the main story, Season 2 it sets up too many narrative threads to trace and only seems willing to pull one of them at a time, with an expanded cast only making intermittent appearances compared to returning players.


One of the show’s best visual tactics that continues to stand out is the frequent stopovers we spend inside Cassie’s mind; this season highlights that she has segmented herself into the strongest and most varied aspects of her overall personality, from the sleeping version of Cassie as a party girl, complete with a sequined dress, to the Cassie dressed all in black with smeared eyeliner and a much more pessimistic view of the world. The depth of Cuoco’s talent shows to some degree here, as he navigates playing each of these Cassies with a distinction that makes them feel like parts of a messy whole. The other half of Cuoco’s emotional capacity isn’t fully revealed until the second half of the season, in which Cassie hurtles into a spectacular implosion by adopting all of her worst habits in a way that seems harrowing and inevitable. like a car accident that you can’t steer out of despite all your steadfast efforts to avoid it. Cuoco’s presence on screen is an undeniable punch in several scenes this season in which Cassie is finally willing to confront how her self-destructive tendencies have damaged not only her but her immediate loved ones, including the her brother Davey (TR gentleman) and his estranged mother Lisa (Sharon Stone).



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Image via HBO Max

However, the show’s shift in focus and timing to these tangled family dynamics midway through Season 2 is also indicative of its biggest struggle: trying to juggle every narrative ball being established, with many introduced just to be abandoned in favor of another fun B. -graphic. Not only does Cassie have to discover who has been impersonating her to lethal effect, but she also hosts the arrival of her best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) and boyfriend Max (Mediterranean Sea) from New York, sniffing around the newest stewardess on the scene, Grace (a woefully underused mae martin), Y what’s more find out where the heck her ex-co-worker Megan (pink perez) has disappeared since fleeing the North Koreans. When Cassie admits that she’s basically forgotten about her boyfriend Marco’s existence in light of everything else going on in her life, it’s a tearful character confession that also feels like the series itself acknowledges that she may have bitten more than what you can chew.


While StewardessSeason 1 was based on Bohjalian’s book, Season 2 aims to top the full narrative arc and move away from the source material, but only for variable rewarding returns, continuing to run into the same issues Season 1 had with regarding balance. its main mystery with everything else happening in the margins. Where the show ultimately persists in its success, however, is through its leadership; Cuoco delivers an award-winning performance through Cassie’s highest ups and downs, the latter of which reminds us that she’s still as much of an express disaster as she always has been, whether she wants to admit it or not.

Classification: B-

Season 2 of Stewardess premieres April 21 on HBO Max.


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