The Flight Attendant’s Addictive, Manic Spiral

How many young women in movies and series do we see suffering and trying to start life over? Almost all have their problems, but few face the challenges of Cassandra “Cassie” Bowen, the star of The Flight Attendant, the HBO Max series starring Kaley Cuoco. The character that earned all the accolades and award nominations for an actress, deservedly.

The offshoot of Chris Bohjalian‘s bestseller, the series has reached its second season without books as a foundation, and it doesn’t need them. For those who haven’t seen it yet (run!), in the first season we meet Cassie, a stewardess who wakes up next to a dead man in a city abroad and, not only tries to prove her innocence (which she’s not even sure about), but she has to run away from dangerous assassins. To make matters worse, she is an alcoholic and depressed, which hampers both her credibility and her actions. In this second phase, she is sober and rebuilding her life in California, but of course she gets into trouble again.

To follow the adventures of Cassie and her friends is to enter a maniacal spiral of self-sabotage. Almost dependent on chaos to justify her vices, she manages to turn a trip to the bakery into an international conspiracy. Of course, that’s what makes the series fun in reverse, but it’s also harrowing, and it made me wonder how many times we don’t become “Cassies” or live with them.

The Flight Attendant plays all the time with the Hitchcockian formula, which used a factoid to distract us from the real action he wanted us to follow. He called this element the Macguffin, and in the HBO Max series, the Macguffin is crimes. That’s right, it doesn’t matter who kills who or wants to steal what, the shows is about the process of recovery a person dependent on alcohol, who suffers every hour to maintain her sobriety. She suffers deeply every second from this and only we share her pain. Unable to drink, Cassie’s addiction becomes solving mysteries, and ours, her pain. We follow her confused rationale, multiplied in several personalities, which increases the pressure already on the fragile woman. Kaley Cuoco, who has received Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice and SAG nominations for her performance, and has long episodes and monologues where we don’t even feel like she’s playing alone with the various versions of herself.

In one particularly emotional episode this season, she has had enough of her own madness and contemplates a drastic exit. Starting over is so difficult, even more so for someone who has a dependency like hers. And that’s why it’s amazing that in the same episode we can laugh, cheer and cry. A unique vehicle that confirms how much we can expect from the actress who has been working on producing a biopic about Doris Day. It will be incredible.

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