HBO’s big draw last night was the Westworld season three premiere—but fans of absurd space comedy also tuned in for the season one finale of Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5. We already know there’s a season two on the way, so here are five things we’re hoping to see when the show returns.
Everyone—except Iris (Suzy Nakamura), who sorta accidentally escaped back to Earth on the shuttle that was meant to scoop up Herman Judd (Josh Gad)—is still aboard Avenue 5, and thanks to Karen’s (Rebecca Front) little miscalculation, the journey has now been extended to eight years. Engineers Cyrus (Neil Casey) or Billie (Lenora Crichlow) could potentially come up with another miracle plan to shave that down, but there’s still going to be tons more time in space ahead.
It’s difficult to imagine that the atmosphere among the stranded could get any closer to full-on chaos than it already has; add on a few more months or years, and imagine the exponential deterioration that’s bound to happen. Which friendships and relationships will fall apart? What social boundaries will crumble? What will Judd do without Iris to run interference on his worst ideas?
There are 5,000-ish space-cationers and crew members aboard Avenue 5, and we’ve only spent time with a handful of them—which makes sense, because so far the show’s been concerned with the people who are supposed to be in charge. But there are so many other people who could plausibly become part of the story going forward.
As the show has amply demonstrated already, there are a variety of hilarious ways to craft annoying, entitled vacationers, like bossy trillionaire Harrison Ames (Paterson Joseph) and that know-it-all VFX professional (one can only hope Avenue 5's actual VFX peeps signed off on that character). But though we’ve met a few random Judd Galaxy employees, like the ship’s stand-up comedian (Yesterday’s Himesh Patel) and the fake bridge crew, season two could definitely give us more from the bartenders, housekeepers, the officious guy who runs the buffet, etc. So far, these characters have used creative methods to telegraph their mounting disgust—whoever knew you could fold a towel into the shape of a butthole?—but have rarely gotten much screentime otherwise. You know they’re got some stories to tell.
One of the brilliant aspects of Avenue 5's first season was how it snuck little tidbits—mostly in the form of conversational asides—about what life on Earth is like some 40 years in the future. A lot of it involves bizarre tragedies (mysterious “fires” in Philadelphia; a French famine that wiped out a bunch of children; Google going bankrupt; a character who forcefully reminds us that “I fought in the Huawei Wars”). We also learn that the U.S. has moved its center of government to Buffalo, New York, and now operates under two presidents, one of which is an Alexa-esque AI. Culinary trends have certainly gotten very strange (would you order “wasp tapenade”??)—and then there’s the celebrity gossip: Richard Branson being fed to his pigs on his private island, Tobey Maguire’s gory death in prison, and that true-crime podcast about...Greta Gerwig. The fact that it’s all so weird and random just makes it even funnier.
Season two should definitely keep this up, but it would also be fun to learn more about Judd, who seems to be the ultimate product of Earth circa 2060. The show doesn’t have time to indulge in flashbacks, so we’ve learned only a teensy bit about how this bratty man-child ascended to the one percent, aside from at least one strong suggestion that he had family help. But what are the other Judds like? How did Herman go from a scrawled note about space tourism to actually launching Avenue 5? Will we ever get a glimpse of the infamous Avenue 3?
The season one finale, “Eight Arms But No Hands”—which involved a wide-scale hunt for the suddenly MIA head of passenger relations, Matt (Zach Woods)—actually showed us way more of the ship than any previous episode, mostly random levels where a staff member having an existential crisis might hide. But it still feels like there’s tons more to explore (we know there’s an ice rink; what else are passengers doing to pass the time?) that could be used both for laughs and to emphasize how gigantic the ship really is.
Now that Rav (Nikki Amuka-Bird) is stuck on an eight-year cruise, will Iris be running mission control? Will Rav’s underling (the “you’ll miss your birthday!” guy) be in charge? Or will Avenue 5 bring in an entirely new taskmaster in the form of some other acerbic comedian plucked from one of Armando Iannucci’s previous projects? We’ll need a new tether to Earth one way or another; presumably somebody’s going to be calming down the protestors and using Joe’s decaying head and hands to help orchestrate the rescue mission from home base.
Avenue 5 will return to HBO for a second season, though no release date has been announced yet.
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