‘The Flight Attendant’ review: Kaley Cuoco’s ‘hot mess’ air steward lifts clichéd drama

Cassie attempts to solve a murder while drinking the refreshments trolley dry

The job of a flight attendant has long held a powerful kind of glamour. Jetting off to glitzy locations, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous and mastering the art of mixing a Bloody Mary at 30,000ft has been an enviable career option for the past 60 years. In Sky’s new darkly comic thriller, Kaley Cuoco’s Cassie is living the mile high dream. Well, some of it, at least. Her hectic life is a mess of vodka, exotic destinations, shagging handsome passengers, vodka, partying hard, vodka and doing it all over again, but this time with more vodka.

After an animated title sequence that sits somewhere between James Bond and BoJack Horseman, The Flight Attendant begins with Cuoco passed out on the New York subway, a club stamp on her hand, paper wristband around her forearm and make-up smudged elegantly across her face. When she finally gets home there’s a strange man in her bed, who she’d forgotten sending there earlier in the night after meeting him in a bar. Her brother and his partner are planning to visit in four days with their kids and Cassie is wildly unprepared. And with that, the truly chaotic scene is set, the tired ‘hot mess’ millennial woman trope wheeled out yet again.

The Flight Attendant
Michiel Huisman plays a handsome passenger who may or may not have been murdered by Kaley Cuoco’s Cassie. CREDIT: Sky

Soon, Cassie is back at work, knocking back the drinks while flirting with a male customer, played with a bland kind of charm by Michiel Huisman. When they land in Bangkok, she meets up with him for an evening of excess, but when she wakes the next morning by his corpse, things take a turn from simple boozy banter to black, but not entirely funny, comedy. Much like 2019’s Russian Doll, all is not as it seems and Cassie attempts to flee the scene and work out just what happened the night before, with reality and fantasy weaving in and out of each other as odd flashbacks see Huisman’s animated body offering overly expository suggestions as to what took place. “I did not kill you, I’m not that kind of drunk,” yells a frustrated Cassie, whose daddy issues are clumsily lumped into the first two episodes, suggested as the reason for her mayhem and sexed-up alcoholism. “I’m public nudity, yelling-in-the-subway drunk!”

What follows is Cuoco’s blundering attempt at uncovering the truth. Receiving Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critic’s Choice Award nominations for her turn as Cassie, the Big Bang Theory star is perhaps the best thing about the show, shining with slapstick energy as a messy anti-heroine. If she was your best mate, you’d absolutely be done with her – much like Girls’ Zosia Mamet is as high flying lawyer bestie Annie, who spends most of the time rolling her eyes at Cassie’s turbulent life. But as a viewer you’re still rooting for the engaging Cassie, even when she parties instead of prepping for an interview with the FBI. Yet in a world of messy woman stereotypes on-screen, The Flight Attendant can’t help but come over as plain infuriating.

‘The Flight Attendant’ premieres on Sky One at 9pm tonight

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