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Kaley Cuoco Returns to TV in a Comedy Far Darker Than Her Previous Shows: 'The Flight Attendant'
November 26, 2020  | By David Hinckley

Back in the day when flight attendants were stewardesses (women only, of course), there was this unspoken male fantasy that "stews" led exotic lives of forbidden pleasure.

The whole "Coffee, tea, or me?" thing.

Fortunately, we've pretty much moved past that. Well, except for Cassie Bowman.

Cassie, played by Kaley Cuoco (top), is the title character in The Flight Attendant, an eight-part miniseries whose first three episodes become available Thursday on HBO Max.

Cassie flies international routes, meaning she spends a many days and nights laying over in exotic places. She makes the most of these occasions if, from what we can tell, your definition of "making the most of these occasions" is getting blackout drunk and waking up next to a man you can't ever remember seeing before.

Her behavior is kind of troubling and more than a little depressing, right up until the morning in Bangkok when she wakes up next to a man covered in blood with his throat slit. Then things just turn flat-out bad.

That's not a spoiler. That's the setup of The Flight Attendant, meaning this would be a good time to remember that the series is billed as "dark comedy."

Cuoco, who remains best known for The Big Bang Theory, plays a different kind of comedy here. Let's say it's closer to, oh, desperation.

Logically enough, what Cassie must try to do is prove she didn't slit the throat of Alexander Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), who, by the way, returns periodically to have imagined conversations with Cassie.

Also logically enough, Alexander has a backstory of his own, which Cassie and we are eager to explore.

Unfortunately for Cassie, she starts with about the same amount of information as the viewer since she must prove she didn't commit a crime she doesn't remember that happened during a time she doesn't remember.

She gets some help from her best friend Annie Mouradian (Zosia Mamet), who, by happy coincidence, is a lawyer. She also has some pals in the flight attendant crew, including Megan Briscoe (Rosie Perez).

Her problem lies in the circumstantial evidence. She did wake up in bed next to the body, so she would have a hard time arguing she didn't have "opportunity." She didn't report the body to the hotel or the Bangkok police but instead took a two-leg flight back to New York. When she got to New York, and the FBI wanted to talk to flight attendants about the late Mr. Sokolov, she tried to duck out the door instead.

The optics, as they say, aren't good.

It needs to be noted that we have seen this story before, both the mysterious dead body and the incriminating optics. For The Flight Attendant, the "dark comedy" part presumably will serve as the spice that flavors this dish differently from those before.

It doesn't seem much of a stretch to say that Cassie will be searching for herself as well as whoever took the broken bottle to Mr. Sokolov's throat. She can also be expected to have moments of self-doubt because while she's quite sure murder isn't her style, she can't say for sure what did or didn't happen after she and the late Mr. Sokolov – who met on the plane – retired to his room for the night.

The Flight Attendant isn't the trip of a lifetime. These days, maybe just flying at all can be satisfying enough.

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