Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight 407 to Bangkok. Turbulence is expected on this route, so please fasten your seatbelts for HBO’s murder mystery comedy, The Flight Attendant, now on Showmax.
The Flight Attendant is nominated for nine Emmys this year, including Outstanding Comedy Series, with Critics’ Choice, People’s Choice and Teen Choice Award winner Kaley Cuoco (Penny in The Big Bang Theory) up for Outstanding Actress.
She plays reckless flight attendant Cassie Bowden, who wakes up in the wrong bed, with a dead guy beside her, and no idea what happened. Unable to piece the night together, she begins to wonder if she could be the killer.
Oscar nominee Rosie Perez (Birds of Prey) is also up for an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actress while 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Award nominee Michiel Huisman (The Haunting of Hill House, Game of Thrones), Emmy nominee TR Knight (Grey’s Anatomy’s George O’Malley), Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna from Girls), and BAFTA nominee Michelle Gomez (Doctor Who, Bad Education) co-star.
Based on the novel of the same name by New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian (Oprah Book Club favourite Midwives), The Flight Attendant was also nominated for a 2021 Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy Series, among other honours.
After 12 years on The Big Bang Theory, Kaley says, she “needed to start thinking about what the next path was going to be. The Flight Attendant is such an interesting premise, I knew I had to jump on this.”
And jump she did, even before she’d finished the book. In an interview on Good Morning America, Kaley said, “I read the first line on Amazon three years ago, and I got this chill up my spine. I know that sounds clichéd but it really happened. I immediately called my team, and the first question out of my mouth was, ‘Did [Big Little Lies producer] Reese Witherspoon get the rights to this book?’ And they were like, ‘Let me check…’ ‘Cause I just assumed, for sure. And she hadn’t! It was a miracle. And I’m like, ‘Okay, I gotta get them.’ Six months later, I won this bidding war and all of a sudden I had the rights to this book. That was three years ago.”
The Flight Attendant started filming in November of 2019, in locations across the globe. “You can’t pretend Bangkok, you can’t pretend Rome, and so it became this insane world-wide production that I still can’t believe that we did, minutes before the world shut down,” Kaley says.
Like many other series, they didn’t quite make it to the end of production before the pandemic scuppered their plans, half-way through shooting episode six of the series’ eight.
“We had to stop production three days into it because of COVID and then, six months later, come back and pick it up in the middle of one of the darkest, most emotional and wacky episodes,” creator Steve Yockey (Scream, Supernatural), who is Emmy-nominated for his script, told GoldDerby.com.
The story’s journey to the small screen may have been marked by turbulence and unexpected delays, but the end result is a supremely bingeable, non-stop thrill ride. “The Flight Attendant is exciting, surprising, and it gets more and more wild as the episodes go on,” Kaley says.
Speaking to Sirius XM about the adaptation, Kaley said, “The book is very dark. It’s written a lot darker than what we ended up doing. But I could see where this character could go so many different places emotionally. I was like, ‘Ooh, I could make this quirky,’ and ‘That’s really disheartening’, and, ‘Oh my God the alcoholism,’ and, ‘She’s the life of the party, but holy sh*t look at the trauma in her life!’ To me, that’s an actress’ dream, to be able to play a role like that. So I knew this could be really, really fun… I just loved Cassie. She was such a disaster, but I knew I could make her lovable and make the audience fall in love with her.”
And that’s exactly what Kaley has done. Even as we’re groaning at Cassie’s terrible decisions – and, inevitably, imagining how we’d have made much better choices if, say, we’d woken up beside a dead body in a foreign country known to issue five-year jail terms for littering – we’re also rooting for her. And for the revelation that is Kaley’s switch from sitcom fame to The Flight Attendant‘s heady, un-put-downable mix of pulp, drama, mystery, thriller and comedy.
As the 97% critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes puts it, “Kaley Cuoco shines as a hot mess in The Flight Attendant, an addictively intriguing slice of stylish pulp that will bring mystery aficionados to Cloud Nine.”
Which is more than enough reason to get on board this flight, even if our safety is the last thing on the flight attendant’s mind.