When last viewers left HBO‘s Avenue 5, things looked pretty hilariously grim. What was supposed to be a luxury space cruise had descended into chaos and characters were lucky to keep themselves together, let alone wrangle anyone else. Season 2 of the comedy doesn’t change that much—but did anyone at least learn from last season’s mistakes?
To find out, I spoke with series stars Lenora Crichlow (who plays the capable but underappreciated Billie) and Zach Woods (whose Matt took customer relations completely in the wrong direction). We discussed the end of Season 1 and how those events might play into Season 2.
“I just don’t know if there’s ever been a time in human history where so many resources are devoted to making imaginary fictional worlds come alive,” Zach refllected. “It’s a crazy thing to fly across an ocean to live in a city where you can walk onto a gigantic fake spaceship where they used to build World War II bombers. It’s such a bizarre way to live an ‘adult’ life. It does feel like a strange, multi-million dollar sandbox, and the strangeness of that has not abated after even two seasons.”
“Coming back and coming to play on our set after the most surreal, sort of weird, humanizing, humbling experience of COVID,” Lenora added. “I think everything that Zach just mentioned seemed really in hyper-focus. That we get to do this.”
While the first season concluded with Matt in a particularly lethal predicament, Zach admitted that his character’s awkward luck doesn’t seem to improve in the second season—at least not right away “I think some people’s fate is encoded in their DNA and in their personality, and Matt is one of those people,” he said. “His limitations [in] understanding how people work or what they want are innate and incurable. So I do think he’s damned. But maybe there’s hope.”
Conversely, Billie was one of the most competent characters on board and saved everyone’s lives on at least one occasion. While she had her own flaws personality-wise, she at least held everything together. But as viewers of any Armando Iannucci series know, competence is not necessarily rewarded. “She never gets the recognition she deserves, apart from these kind of semi-tender moments with Ryan,” Lenora admitted. “I think she, during Season 2, just becomes a team player. She stops looking for it. She has little moments with Ryan where she recognizes that he recognizes that without her and her expertise they would be screwed, and that’s enough for her. As long as they don’t implode, she feels that it’s fine.”
“Billie’s humanity leaks out in ever more surprising and hilarious ways,” Zach added. “We get to see the cracks in the armor in a way that’s quite fun.”
“To be honest, I was really excited to see Billie kind of fall in line,” Lenora continued. “Season 1 was so much about getting your head around what was going to happen and the panic of that. What happens once you know and you confirm and you settle into this reality? Because she’s not a people person—so where are you going to go with this? Is this person going to become a people person? Is this person just going to find a way to be around all these people for eight years in a way that’s a bit more human? Or is she going to just lose her mind? Because that’s where she was headed if she kept up that level of neuroses.”
Zach’s hook in Season 2 was continuing to explore that Matt genuinely likes other people, even if he struggles with his job. “I’m excited to take whatever ride the writers are going to take you on. My feeling is that as an actor, it’s your job more to just make sure you’re holding onto the core characteristics. They’ll make your vacation itinerary and you just make sure to pack the essential items,” he told me. “In Matt’s case, the essential items are a basic fondness for people. So even when he’s getting angry or even when he’s getting crazy, he has to be at his core benign and well-meaning, even if his impact is negative.”
Avenue 5 airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and streams on HBO Max.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.