July 17, 2024

HBO Max Grounds “The Flight Attendant” After Two Turbulent Seasons

Written by AiBot

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Jan 20, 2024

HBO Max has announced that the critically-acclaimed dark comedy-thriller series “The Flight Attendant” will not return for a third season, cancelling the show after a two-season run. Led by Emmy-nominated actress Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” charted the chaotic adventures of a reckless flight attendant named Cassie who becomes caught up in a murder mystery.

Background on “The Flight Attendant”

“The Flight Attendant,” based on the novel of the same name by Chris Bohjalian, premiered on HBO Max in November 2020. The series was an immediate hit, drawing praise for its blend of comedic and thriller elements driven by Cuoco’s manic lead performance.

In the first season, flight attendant Cassie Bowden (Cuoco) wakes up hungover in a Bangkok hotel room with a dead body next to her and no memory of the night before. Terrified that she has been framed for murder, Cassie struggles to piece together clues while continuing her reckless globetrotting lifestyle and battling alcoholism. The first season was nominated for nine Emmy awards, with Cuoco earning a Lead Actress nod.

A second season premiered in April 2022, this time following Cassie as she works undercover with the CIA to take down a dangerous international assassin. The new missions take an emotional toll on Cassie as she continues to battle addiction and recurring trauma from the first season. Despite strong reviews, viewership declined compared to season one.

HBO Max Decision Driven by Viewership Concerns

In announcing the cancellation on January 19th, 2024, HBO Max highlighted that creator Steve Yockey and Cuoco had always envisioned “The Flight Attendant” as a two season show. However, declining viewership versus season one was likely also a driving factor behind HBO Max’s decision not to order a third round.

Sources indicate the streamer had been hoping for growth in season two rather than a decline. While precise numbers have not been released, data suggests as much as a 30% drop-off in average audience per episode compared to the first season. With ballooning budgets for top original streaming shows, HBO Max executives reportedly lost confidence in the show’s financial outlook.

Season Average Viewers Per Episode (Estimated)
Season 1 5 million
Season 2 3.5 million

This mirrors a pattern seen at Netflix, which has aggressively culled shows with diminishing viewership despite critical acclaim. For premium networks investing heavily in originals, steady audience growth is generally required to justify big budgets.

Mixed Reactions from Critics and Fans

Reactions from fans and reviewers to HBO Max’s cancellation decision have been mixed. Many lament the loss of a creative, risk-taking show that never found its full audience. But others feel two seasons allows “The Flight Attendant” to end on a relative high note.

Los Angeles Times critic Lorraine Ali wrote:

“’The Flight Attendant’ flew high in its first season with its addictive, dark humor propelling a compelling mystery. But the elevator ride to intrigue wasn’t as fast nor smooth in season 2. Still addictively watchable thanks to Cuoco and an excellent supporting cast. Better to end after an ambitious ride on a show that told its full story than face eventual ruin from jumping the shark.”

Meanwhile, fan @TFAlover2022 Tweeted:

“No!!! I’m crushed. Cassie still has so many more chaotic adventures in her. This show was a breath of fresh crazy air and I’ll miss Kaley Cuoco’s incredible performance so much!”

Indeed, Cuoco has earned wide praise for her manic, vulnerable, and physical performance over two seasons carrying the show. For an actor best known for sitcom work on “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Flight Attendant” represented an opportunity to showcase dramatic range that Cuoco took full advantage of. The role seems likely to open doors to more prestigious projects down the line despite the show’s cancellation.

Uncertain Futures for Cast and Crew

For others involved in “The Flight Attendant,” the future is less certain following HBO Max’s season three cancellation. Many creatives and crew members now unexpectedly find themselves looking for their next jobs.

The show provided breakthrough opportunities for writers, directors and crew members that will still help elevate their careers going forward. Co-executive producer Natalie Chaidez commented to Deadline:

”It’s been a dream to work on this show with Steve, Greg [Berlanti], Kaley and the team of storytellers. I’m proud that we could give life to such a batshit project about a hot mess. It has opened doors for everyone.”

But some were likely counting on a season three renewal, especially below-the-line crew positions that face constant instability in Hollywood. Their futures are now more uncertain.

It remains to be seen whether the show’s breakout supporting stars like Zosia Mamet, Deniz Akdeniz, and Rosie Perez will see new opportunities arise or also face setbacks from the cancellation. While Cuoco will undoubtedly be highly sought after, her co-stars lack the same public profile she enjoys.

Unanswered Questions for Fans

For fans invested in Cassie Bowden’s personal growth and the show’s overarching mysteries, “The Flight Attendant” concludes with intriguing storylines left unfinished.

The second season finale found Cassie in a hopeful place, entering a healthy new relationship and seemingly gaining control over her trauma and addiction after bringing down the assassin Miranda Croft (Mae Martin). But her CIA handler Benjamin Berry (Mo McRae) was revealed to be corrupt, leaving that thread unresolved.

Meanwhile, the question of who actually killed Alex Sokolov in season one and framed Cassie was never answered. Fans have speculated that Benjamin or an unknown shadowy figure must have orchestrated the murder. But now fans will never learn the full truth behind that original inciting incident.

The nature of Cassie and Alex’s relationship was also left somewhat ambiguous. Creator Steve Yockey has hinted in interviews that Cassie may have fabricated or exaggerated parts of her backstory with Alex. But with Cassie’s narration proven unreliable, fans hoped for more concrete answers in a potential season three.

While a tidy conclusion is rare for television series these days, “The Flight Attendant” resolved Cassie’s arc while introducing some new mysteries that will forever remain alluring discussion points for fans.

Conclusion: Turbulence Takes Down An Ambitious Thriller

“The Flight Attendant” flew high creatively across two seasons, earning strong reviews and awards attention for its offbeat storytelling and Cuoco’s dynamite performance. But declining viewership led HBO Max executives to ground the globe-trotting thriller rather than risk further financial turbulence from diminishing audience interest.

For creators, cast and crew who poured their talents into the unique series, the cancellation still comes as a disappointment even if two seasons allows the show to end on a relative high. Cuoco seems poised to soar to new heights, but the road ahead is cloudier for other attached talents.

While some storylines go unresolved, “The Flight Attendant” nonetheless sticks the landing in centering Cassie Bowden’s emotional personal journey across a compelling, twisty narrative. The show will be remembered fondly by critics and fans for taking wildly ambitious risks. But in the unforgiving world of television economics, even that level of praise couldn’t outweigh declining profit potential from shrinking audience size over time. So HBO Max ultimately decided that after two up-and-down seasons, it was time to permanently ground “The Flight Attendant.”




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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