Fans of Avenue 5 are already raving about this smart and silly space comedy. The stellar cast is bringing a fresh look at tourist traffic in the near future, and we love it. Taking a flight around Saturn should have been a simple trip. Setting the record for the biggest yoga class in space, and doing other tourist ‘stuff’ like trying the Judder Juice cocktail and watching asteroids in a way you never could from Earth is all part of the package. However, things never run smoothly. The crew of this good ship has more to worry about than most ever will. Meanwhile, we have ten things you didn’t know about Avenue 5.
Warning Spoilers Ahead!!
1. Meet the Ladies
The Future is Female has become a very catchy phrase these days, and we love seeing strong female leads. Suzy Nakamura, Lenora Crichlow, Rebecca Front & Nikki Amuka-Bird have joined the ranks of famous women who are leading the way to the future on the small screen. Suzy plays a set-upon assistant who is unsurprisingly more competent than her eccentric employer, not unlike Rebecca, who is a passenger that knows more about crowd control than anyone on the staff. Lenora (Billy) helps keep the whole ship running as an amazing engineer who manages to mostly keep her cool even when mysterious malfunctions cause major issues. Meanwhile, Nikki is stuck back on Earth, trying to handle the issue of a ship that should be home in a few weeks but won’t. Central command thousands of miles away is not a great place to be when things go wrong. Making things worse is the twenty-six-second communication delay that makes having a conversation nearly impossible. Her position is arguably worse than anyone who is stuck aboard the Avenue 5. Between delays in communications and the plethora of problems, these ladies have some massive jobs to take on.
2. Hugh Laurie
Captain Clark is delightfully good-natured. He excels at people skills and gets along with nearly everyone. He’s British, but he uses an American accent because ‘it set’s the passengers at ease.’ Unfortunately, even though he gets credit for saving the Avenue 3, which he didn’t do, he’s also not really the Captain. Clark is a hired actor who is filling in for the ‘real’ captain because he hates people. At least, that’s the case until the captain dies within the first few minutes of the show.
Armondo Iannucci is a brilliant writer full of fantastic ideas. Avenue 5 is inspired by his personal fascination with science fiction. Specifically, he was a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica. While a huge interspecies war with humanoid robots may seem an unlikely source of inspiration for this light dramedy about tourism in space, but Iannucci wanted to bring his love of SciFi into a more ‘realistic’ and accessible format.
4. Not Armando Iannucci’s First Rodeo
While we’re talking about the incomparable Armondo Iannucci, this is hardly his first show. In fact, he credits his previous work creating shows like The Thick of It and Veep with his success in pitching this idea to HBO. The sheer scale of the set involved would have been too expensive to create for a pilot, so the network took a risk.
5. The Human Touch
When it comes to space, whether we’re talking about a show, movie, or book, there are two schools of thought. The first is that within an infinite universe, there are bound to be numerous other sentient spacefaring species of aliens, and we will encounter them. The second type is a human-centric universe where we either haven’t met or don’t coexist with any aliens at all. In the future of Avenue 5, there’s no mention of aliens. Things aren’t even substantially different in most ways from the world, you know. Humans can get to space, and you can take a cruise that goes further from home than Earth. However, not much else has changed.
6. Where To Find It
If you happened upon this article by accident, or heard about the show and didn’t know where to find it, the answer is simple. You can watch Avenue 5 live or On Demand through HBO or as part of a streaming service like Hulu that offers an HBO add on.
7. Diversity Is The Future
While DenOfGeek calls it the Legacy of Gene Roddenberry, and he certainly deserves a lot of credit for helping integrate people of color on futuristic TV shows and movies, we like to say diversity is the future. Since this particular article is being written on Martin Luther King Day, it’s especially pertinent to note how far our programming has come. It’s no longer ‘surprising, controversial, or revolutionary’ to see people of all hues and backgrounds on one show together.
8. It’s All Good Until Something Goes Wrong
A TV show without conflict is like watching paint dry. In the case of Avenue 5, the problem is a straightforward, practical, and real concern for spaceflight. A malfunction in the artificial gravity causes the people aboard the ship to fall in tandem. When hundreds or thousands of people fall into the same side of a spaceship, it’s going to nudge it, ever so gently to one side. The difference doesn’t have to be large to make a substantial difference in space. In this case, 0.21 inches is enough to cause a huge change in the course of the ship. Enough to keep it from being able to use the gravity, the original course planned to slingshot home. The result is a trip that goes from five weeks to three years in duration.
9. In The Not-So-Distant Future
With all the incredible possibilities, why set a show just three or four decades in the future? It’s been done before and using the future as your setting opens worlds of possibilities. However, keeping the show in a recognizable timeframe, with technology we’re already familiar with, helps remove our suspension of disbelief. It’s easy to fall into the show and imagine this as a real scenario that you could end up trapped in not too long from now.
10. “Corporate Culture Satire”
Shows about space make political commentary and cover broad topics like morality, and how racism may someday extend to xenophobia more often than not. Instead of covering the same tired ground again, Avenue 5 is a “Corporate culture satire” taken in a whole different direction.
We enjoyed the two episodes that have aired so far immensely, and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Hugh Laurie is hilarious. Plus the surprisingly down to earth tone of the series is a breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with blaster battles and epic struggles. We love a good space fight, but we also appreciate shows like Avenue 5 that are genuinely new and different. What do you think of the show so far? Let us know in the comments below.