The Best Sci-Fi Comedy Of The Decade Cancelled Before It’s Time

By TeeJay Small | Published

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The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a wide array of artistic casualties, with many movies, shows, and projects of all kinds being delayed, cancelled, or falling into development hell due to the shutdowns imposed on the world throughout most of 2020 and 2021. One of the greatest examples of this interference can be found in the short-lived Max original series Avenue 5. Despite serving as one of the funniest sci-fi comedy series’ in recent memory, Avenue 5 was cancelled after only 2 seasons, ultimately concluding on a cliffhanger.

Cast And Crew

Avenue 5 was created by brilliant television writer Armando Iannucci, who previously helmed such series’ as Veep and In The Thick Of It, as well as serving as the writer and director of 2017’s The Death of Stalin. The show maintains a star-studded cast of excellent comedic talent, including Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, Zach Woods, Suzy Nakamura, Kyle Bornheimer, and The Office‘s Andy Buckley.

Killed By Covid

The first season of Avenue 5 premiered in January of 2020, and received an almost immediate renewal order from HBO after critics and audiences alike seemed to respond well to the first four episodes. As we all now know, the pandemic shut the world down only a few short months later, creating significant production problems for the show. By the time the team had finally reconvened to write and film the second season in 2022, most of the cast had already booked new gigs, prompting the streamer to cancel the series entirely.

Things Go Off Course

Avenue 5‘s plot centers on a distant future, in which space travel is as common as taking an international flight. A massive corporation called Judd Industries, serving as a satirical take on real-life businesses such as SpaceX or Blue Origin, offers a number of interstellar cruises through the stars on board their passenger ship, the Avenue 5.

In the pilot episode of the show, the ship undergoes a major malfunction, knocking it off its course, and sending the passengers on a three-year detour trajectory.

Needless to say, the wealthy passengers who paid for an 8 week cruise aboard the Avenue 5 enter into a full-blown panic when they learn that they won’t see their homes or pets for at least three more years.

This panic only becomes worse when it is discovered that the captain of the ship, Hugh Laurie’s Ryan Clark, is secretly just an actor, hired to appear as the captain and serve as the charismatic figurehead of the company. The true pilot in charge of plotting the ship’s course is an engineer who was killed during the mechanical malfunction that set the events of the show into motion.

Hilarious Characters

With the lead engineer gone, the crew must navigate the perils of their own incompetence, all while dealing with an unruly public who could mutiny at any time.

Other stand-out characters on the Avenue 5 include Herman Judd, the obnoxious billionaire man-child who owns the Judd Corporation, and an aptly-named passenger called Karen, who uses her superior ability to command a crowd to elevate herself into the ships inner circle, one “I’d like to speak to your manager” request at a time.

Stream It Now

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While it is disappointing that Avenue 5 only received two seasons, and ultimately ends on a cliffhanger, the show is still worth watching, as it masterfully weaves comedy and sci-fi concepts into a hilarious and entertaining jaunt. The series serves as a meditation on corporate greed, public stupidity, and loss of control, all subjects which became all-too-real during the public meltdown that followed the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both seasons of Avenue 5 are available to stream on Max today.