Armando Ianucci’s HBO sci-fi comedy Avenue 5 boldly goes where no other of his works has gone before.
Ianucci, the author of The Thick of It and Veep, as well as the films In the Loop, The Death of Stalin, and The Personal History of David Copperfield, has a knack for skewering the world’s biggest egos, including elected leaders, political candidates, and — as co-creator of the character Alan Partridge — television talking heads. Avenue 5 discusses the conflict between people at the top who have a lot of power but little information and their underlings who have a lot of power but little control, just like his other work. Public relations, or the creation of a compelling enough illusion of competence to get people on board with whatever it is you’re trying to do, is where the true power lies.
In the case of Avenue 5, the people don’t have much of a say on whether or not they want to be on board. The show brings these well-known Ianucci themes out of the world of terrestrial politics and media and onto the Avenue 5, a not-quite-doomed space luxury liner whose eight-week journey is stretched to more than three years due to a mechanical malfunction. Even as they work to prevent the passengers from panicking and get the Avenue 5 safely home, the ship’s crew seems to be in over their heads as a result of the tragedy.
Season 1 premiered on HBO in January 2020, so there’s been ample time for us to start asking what’s going on with season 2. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
When will the second season of Avenue 5 be released?
Audiences would be delighted, but the ship’s crew and passengers will be disappointed: The Avenue 5 will have to spend a little more time floating around in vacuum. HBO revived the show in February 2020, after around half of the first season had aired.
However, the pandemic has caused a pause in production, and HBO has yet to announce when the second season will premiere. Ianucci, for one, addressed the effects of the pandemic on the show’s content last year. “It’s basically about people in isolation,” the writer said of working on season 2 under lockdown to The Hollywood Reporter. “So we’re just waiting to see how the mood is in terms of pitching. Is it going to be all doom and gloom, or will it be very, very silly? Or maybe it’s just a case of childish despondency?”
Season 1 was made “as ridiculous as possible,” he explained, but he noted that the writers would have to see what new responses were elicited in response to the previous year. “It seems to have strangely turned into a kind of documentary about current events,” he said.
Who is in the Avenue 5 season 2 cast?
While the first season demonstrated that there are potentially avenues on and off Avenue 5 for a select few, it’s safe to assume that the show’s “trapped together in space gimmick” will ensure that the majority of the cast will return for season 2.
Hugh Laurie’s Ryan Clark, who is trying to get out of the House, is captaining the Avenue 5 on its disastrous journey. Clark seems to be the perfect leader, tall and well-groomed, but it turns out it’s just a ruse. He’s a hired actor who plays the role of captain and tells the passengers that someone is in command of a ship that’s largely automated. It’s discovered that even the hair is fake.
Herman Judd, the ship’s billionaire boss, is played by Josh Gad, who made his name in luxury resorts and thus knows nothing about the Avenue 5’s facets that aren’t connected to hospitality. Matt Spencer, the ship’s Head of Customer Relations, is played by Zach Woods of The Office and Silicon Valley fame, who you might imagine is having a particularly difficult voyage. Billie McEvoy, played by Lenora Crichlow, is the ship’s Second Engineer, who takes on the bulk of the technical duties after the ship’s First Engineer dies.
Rav Mulcair, the head of Judd Mission Control on Earth, ends up stranded on Avenue 5 by the end of the season, is played by Nikki Amuka-Bird. Suzy Nakamura plays Iris Kimura, Judd’s right-hand woman, who, at the end of the first season, ends up with one of the seats on Rav’s shuttle back to Earth.
What is the plot of Season 2 of Avenue 5?
After an accident turns their three-hour tour… err, eight-week space cruise into a three-year nightmare, the fake crew and the real, much smaller crew collaborate to devise a solution that will get them back to Earth in six months, rather than three years, all while attempting to keep the passengers calm and orderly.
After an argument, Judd relieves Clark of his now-kind-of-real order, and Clark reveals that he was a fake all along, this becomes more difficult. Some passengers wonder if the whole thing isn’t a set-up and eject themselves from an airlock, killing seven people.
And, when it’s time to try a manoeuvre that will change their direction, a misunderstanding causes the cargo to be ejected from the wrong airlocks, throwing them even further off course and forcing them to take an eight-year journey back.
There’s no way of knowing if there would be other ways to bring the ship home sooner, but it’s fair to assume that things on board will deteriorate now that they know who’s in control of the service and how much longer they’ll be trapped with each other. Is there anything that will now keep the crew and passengers on the same page? Would any of the genuinely capable individuals ever have a chance to shine? On a scale of hilarity to despair, where will everybody concerned fall? Audiences will have to wait to see what happens.