In the Season 2 premiere of The stewardess, Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) still works as a flight attendant for Imperial Atlantic, but now she’s officially moonlighting for the CIA. She travels to Berlin where her mission is to observe a man in a hotel, but Cassie decides to go against CIA instructions and not only engages with his mark, but follows him all over Berlin. Pretty standard for an inexperienced agent, right?
Watching the new season of the HBO show is like watching a slasher movie, where I found myself needlessly screaming at my screen for unwitting characters to run around and not hide in the closet. But still, it’s more exhausting to watch Cassie actively go against good advice because her recklessness is a product of her privilege, namely as a pretty white woman who can gain access to her hotel room. mark by fabricating a lame story, repeatedly dodging calls from his upline, following half-baked theories without logic, while clearly lying to his co-workers and boss. And somehow, she manages to get out of sticky situations largely without disastrous consequences.
Characters like Cassie, who repeat their mistakes in frustration, may exist on television, but let’s stop making them represent the paradigm of empowerment because they managed to overcome a heartbreaking and difficult situation. Their privilege allowed them to do so, let’s not forget that.
Cassie in season 2 is just as erratic as last season, but considering her character woke up with a dead man after a one-night stand, her behavior seemed excusable. His battle with alcoholism further complicated his behavior last season. This time around though, we find Cassie sober, living in LA and in a healthy, by her own standards, long-term relationship with Macro. She seems to have her life together and goes to AA meetings regularly. But now Cassie seems to have replaced booze with adrenaline, and while she has plenty of resources and people to turn to, she’s just as fickle and carefree as before.
“It’s not because you took the alcohol away [automatically mean you take] away the risk-seeking behavior, the mindless things, acting on impulse and later regretting it… She just doesn’t have any excuses for it anymore,” the show’s creator said, Steve Yockey at Vanity Fair.
This begs the question, if Cassie is the same chaotic character from Season 1, then what exactly makes her an asset to the CIA? Obviously, as an air hostess, she has a discreet accessibility to different countries. But while his entry into these countries may not raise questions, his behavior and actions certainly justify them. Even after her master berates her for lying to him, Cassie ignores him and is surprised that her job could be terminated. She downplays her actions even with imminent repercussions. While on a pleading tangent, she even admits that working with the CIA is the “one exciting thing” in her life, as if the seriousness of the situation equals a teenager begging to stay out of curfew. Her view of her responsibilities sends many red flags, and the fact that she feels so brazen to share this with her boss shows the privilege she holds.
Arguably, her lack of perspective exacerbates the issue of Cassie’s privilege. Sometimes she doesn’t seem to want to learn or grow and takes things for granted. When Shane reminds her of the stakes, she continues to create confusing situations for her and him with the certainty that the consequences won’t catch up right away. In Iceland, she actively works against his case and leaves him a corpse as a parting gift, which he of course cleans up. And when Cassie finally Is reaching out to Shane in Episode 5, letting her know of all the potential danger she’s in, you can’t help but question the privilege she has of fumbling around an intense situation with the convenience that someone else, do you think a black man, will clean up the mess she unnecessarily made worse.
Most marginalized groups, especially black and brown individuals, would dare not follow Cassie’s reckless behavior as the luxuries offered to her would not even be a possibility. If Cassie were a person of color, the show would take on a darker tone rather than the goofy adventure we find ourselves in right now. The real hard truth is that we see black and brown adults in real life being harassed — and sometimes killed — over baseless accusations of petty theft like a book bag or a candy bar. Realistically, Cassie would likely be in jail by episode four or at least fired, and the show would shift to a darker note where Ani (Zosia Mamet) and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) work to exonerate their friend.
Cassie isn’t totally irrecoverable. Her wide-eyed charisma draws you in, and her extreme lengths to help a friend are admirable. She also has moments of genuine vulnerability in admitting when she relapses. But the lack of accountability with senseless decisions in life-threatening situations makes her annoying to watch. As we approach the Season 2 finale, I can’t hold my breath that this is the end of the road for Cassie and her disastrous choices.
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