Thursday, December 10, 2020

TV: That disappointing flight attendant

 Kaley Cuoco is not a smart person.  We say that fully aware that she slagged feminism in REDBOOK a few years back and went on about how she needed to "serve" her man.  Apparently husband Ryan Sweeting ordered her to divorce him since they filed for divorce in 2015.  A year later, she was insisting she was a feminist and her words were misconstrued.  For the record, these were her words when she was was asked if she was a feminist?


Is it bad if I say no?  It's not really something I think about. Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around. I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that's because I've never really faced inequality.


When she decided to lie in 2016, she emphasized work insisting that she was paid equally so, of course, she was "a f**king feminist."  Again, she's not a smart person.


And that's what really comes through now that she's following up THE BIG BANG THEORY with HBO MAX's limited series THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT: just how dumb she is.

Her company is producing the series and, maybe if they weren't, it might be better?

At 35, Kaley's another stupid personality who never learned to act.  On the sitcom, she said her lines correctly and was surrounded by funny people so little thought was given to how little she was actually doing in each episode.  There's a reason that Mayim Bialik was nominated for an Emmy and Kaley never was. Mayim and Melissa Rauch created actual characters.  Kaley traded on her looks.  It's why she got the boob job in 2004.  

It's why she's so bad on THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT.

The mini-series is based upon a book by a man who ripped off Sidney Lumet's THE MORNING AFTER starring Jane Fonda.  Like Jane's character, Kaley wakes up in bed with a dead man.  The two characters also got blotto drunk the night before.  Both dead men were killed by a knife.  The women both clean up the scenes of the crime only to later realize that might have destroyed evidence that could prove their innocence.

Jane gives a performance, an incredible performance, one that was nominated for an Academy Award.  Kaley?  She recites her dialogue accurately.  That's about it.

Now we weren't expecting Kaley to offer a radical reworking of the type she's famous for playing.  We were expecting her to try to deliver convincing emotions.  

Watch Jane's horror when she realizes that the man in bed is dead and compare that to Kaley's reaction.  Watch all the levels and emotions Jane delivers in the immediate aftermath and watch how Kaley only has one note to hit and hits it over and over, a small child plunking away on the piano with one finger.

It's not a performance.

And that's why Kaley is so stupid.

Does she not survey the landscape?  Alyssa Milano can't get a real job -- or any job her husband doesn't strong arm someone into giving her.  Is that the future Kaley wants?  She better marry a CAA agent then.

She's really stupid.  Actors, good ones, can reach within and pull out something that has meaning for them and for the audience.  That doesn't necessarily make them smart.  

Intelligence doesn't always help either. Look at Jayne Mansfield.  Whether she had a genius IQ -- as she sometimes claimed -- or not, she was very intelligent.  That was a direct result of having a mother who was a school teacher and who demanded Jayne study and that she read -- and reading was the classics.  

By contrast, Marilyn Monroe wasn't considered smart.  But she gave moving performances that still marvel and move audiences too -- such as her Golden Globe winning performance in the classic SOME LIKE IT HOT, such as THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL where she steals every scene from Laurence Olivier, her Golden Globe nominated performance in BUS STOP, her BAFTA nominated performance in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH,   the musical GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, the comedy HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, the film noir NIAGARA and so much more.

Even at her finest, Jayne never lives up to any of those performances and she was never able to carry a film.  We're sure she would have scored better on an IQ test than Marilyn did.  We're sure she was more intelligent than Marilyn was.

But Marilyn had brains where they counted.  That's why there are no uncomfortable quotes about gay men attached to her the way they are to Jayne (for example, Jayne's remarks about her first visit to Hollywood and "swishy" men). She got the human condition and she studied it.  On the latter, unlike Jayne, Marilyn was smart enough to realize a real artist studies.  Marilyn went off to New York to study at The Actor's Studio.  Paula Strasberg served as her acting coach on her films after that.  Smart actors do that.  Lily Tomlin, for example, is constantly studying, constantly working with coaches.  Christina Applegate?  She started off with Uta Hagen and, much later in her life, returned to classes to explore levels and emotions she wasn't being asked to access in the roles she was being offered.  

Jane Fonda is a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, seven Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTAs and on Emmy.  She's worked with various acting coaches over the years and, of course, was a member of The Actors Studio.  

Sandra Seacat is an acting teacher who directed one of our favorite movies of all time (IN THE SPIRIT starring Elaine May and Marlo Thomas) and look at the people who've studied with her: Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Reeves, Laura Dern, Melanie Griffith, Ryan Gosling, Meg Ryan, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Redgrave, Marlo Thomas, Harvey Keitel . . . 

Smart artists know they need to work and explore.  TV actors?  We like to pretend they're talented, that they're all Sally Field, John Travolta and Denzel Washington but the reality is that the bulk of them are Erin Moran, John Davidson, Lyle Waggoner, David Soul, Pamela Hensley, Gary Sandy, Joyce DeWitt, Lydia Cornell, Adrian Zmed, David Faustino, Joe Penny, Kirk Cameron, Beverly Mitchell, Anthony Clark, etc.  They assume that their moment in the spotlight is due to something other than luck and they refuse to do the work required to improve their craft.  

Not everyone is so lazy.  Christina Applegate played dumb blond on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN but there was a brain behind the performance.  That was obvious even on her follow up JESSIE and certainly when she played Rachel's sister Amy on two episodes of FRIENDS, as well as in her work on SAMANTHA WHO?, UP ALL NIGHT and DEAD TO ME. 

You'd think Kaley would want to be a success story.  But she's giving a flat performance in a role an actor should be providing a roller coaster of emotions.  THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT isn't a good show.  If she has any friends, they should steer her towards acting classes while there's still some interest in her career.  Jayne Mansfeld just wanted to be a legend and she was well known while she was alive due to various publicity stunts.  Kaley can't even claim that.  In fact, if she doesn't start studying soon, she's going to be the 21st century's Lauren Tewes, someone who was lucky to be on a hit show and never worked to really use that brief luck to become a better performer.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }