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The HBO Max show 'The Flight Attendant' is back for a 2nd season


If you're looking for a new TV show, we've got you covered. The HBO Max show "The Flight Attendant" is back this week for a second season. In the first season, Cassie, who's played by Kaley Cuoco, woke up with a stranger after a night of partying. But it was a little more than your usual awkward situation, as she called her best friend Annie for help.


KALEY CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Who's the girl, the Italian girl - actually, she was the American girl. She was in Italy, and the murder thing - but she was - she was innocent?

ZOSIA MAMET: (As Annie Mouradian) Are you talking about Amanda Knox?

CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Yeah. Did she call the police, the Italian police? Did they come? Do you know what happened there?

MAMET: (As Annie Mouradian) They arrested her. Cass, why are you asking me about Amanda Knox?

MARTIN: The answer is that the stranger in Cassie's bed is dead, and she doesn't know how he ended up that way. Cassie spent the season tracking down what had happened and trying to clear her name. The show was nominated for nine Emmy Awards, and now it's back to continue its story. And one of the people who eagerly waited for the show to return is Linda Holmes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and she's here to talk about what we might be able to expect in the second season. Hi, Linda.


MARTIN: So what kind of show is "The Flight Attendant"? It's submitted itself to the Emmys as a comedy. But I don't understand. It's not - it doesn't sound like a traditional comedy series.

HOLMES: It's not. It's sort of a mystery-comedy drama. Cassie turns out to be a pretty troubled person, and there's a lot in that first season and in this second one, too, about how she got that way. And it also gets into how her behavior and especially her abuse of alcohol has hurt people that she's close to and obviously hurt her. But it's also got a lot of very comedic dialogue and a lot of people running around in beautiful clothes in cities of the world, sneaking behind pillars and that kind of thing. So it's kind of a character-driven suspense spy comedy, if that makes any sense. That's sort of how I would describe it.

MARTIN: OK. Sounds good. So if Cassie spent the first season solving this mystery and getting herself off the hook for murder, what's she up to now?

HOLMES: Well, at the end of the first season, after getting involved in all this spy stuff and eventually getting out of trouble, Cassie ended up deciding to work with the CIA. So when we find her at the beginning of this season, she's living in LA. She's in AA. She has a new boyfriend. Her life has kind of calmed down. But on the other hand, she's doing these very daring side jobs as a CIA asset while she's still working as a flight attendant. And naturally, during one of these jobs, something happens. and she's back on the trail of a new mystery. So she's all over the place again, and, you know, she also has all of her personal problems still to deal with.

MARTIN: So do you think it's successful, this idea of bringing this mystery series into another season?

HOLMES: It is. I really like the show a lot. I like the performances so much. It's very entertaining, and it always looks great to me. It's very playful. It's also always very tense. It's a very, like, tightly constructed show. And ultimately, Cassie's story is really affecting because it is about her trying to be better person in a way. So it does really work on me.

MARTIN: There are some experimental elements in the show. Cassie spent the first season having a lot of conversations that were really fantasy sequences where it was all taking place inside her head. You know, that works sometimes, and sometimes it doesn't.

HOLMES: Right. Right.

MARTIN: Are they still doing that?

HOLMES: They are. It's really interesting. As you said, throughout the first season, she would have these long conversations with the guy who had died, actually, in what the creators of the show call her mind palace, right? There - these are those fantasy sequences that are a way to sort of get at her internal monologue. And this season, rather than talking to other people in her head, Cassie talks to different versions of herself. So her party girl self and her more kind of sedate self and her younger self, they're all trapped in, essentially, this big hotel bar together, the way that it sometimes feels, I think, to anybody, like aspects of who you are are in conflict with each other. The visual effects are quite good, so it really does seem like there are a bunch of Kaley Cuocos in this big hotel arguing and so on. Here's a clip of Cassie being offered a drink by a different, more self-destructive version of herself.


CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Also, this drink will really take the edge off.

CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) OK, well, I can't have a drink because if I have one drink, then I just want all the [expletive] drinks. You should know that.

CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Oh, I think we both know that. By the way, your new friend Grace seems cool, kind of like how you used to be cool. That little, like, scarf on her neck, like, who am I? I'm so effortless - fun new party friend.

CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Yeah, well, I'm more the designated driver these days.

CUOCO: (As Cassie Bowden) Yeah, well, no one wants to hang out with the designated driver. You want to know why? Because it's boring. By the way, your hands are shaking.

HOLMES: So as you can hear there, she's having a lot of these kind of internal struggles over her drinking and other things. These scenes are sort of how those play out.

MARTIN: And you can see it - because don't a lot of us have these arguments in our own heads, right?

HOLMES: Absolutely.

MARTIN: This is a very different role for Cuoco, who became a huge sitcom star when she was on "The Big Bang Theory." How did she make this leap to this different part?

HOLMES: Well, her production company optioned the novel that the series is based on before it was even published. So she was in very early setting this project up for herself to produce and to star in. And there are there are a lot of actors now who do this. They start production companies and produce their own projects where they can kind of get the roles that they want and have a little bit more control.

MARTIN: The first two episodes of the second season of "The Flight Attendant" are streaming now on HBO Max. And you heard it from Linda - she likes it. Linda Holmes, thank you so much.

HOLMES: Thanks, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.