HBO suddenly remembers it hadn't canceled Avenue 5 yet

Hugh Laurie in Avenue 5
Hugh Laurie in Avenue 5

HBO announced today that it was canceling Avenue 5, its space-based comedy series starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad, after two seasons on the air. And we know what you’re thinking: Surely, HBO had already canceled Avenue 5, right? But no: You’re probably thinking of Showtime’s Moonbase 8, or Netflix’s Space Force, because Jesus Christ, were people anxious for some space-adjacent comedy shows back in 2020, we guess. (It may have been a reflection of our general desire to get off the planet from 2016 to 2019, honestly.)

Avenue 5 was the last survivor of that odd little crop, centering on a luxury cruise ship whose captain (Laurie) is revealed to be nothing more than a charming actor after disaster extends the ship’s journey home from 8 days to three-plus years. Gad co-starred as the owner of the company running the ship, along with Zach Woods, Rebecca Front, Suzy Nakamura, Lenora Crichlow, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Ethan Phillips. The series was created (and frequently written) by Armando Iannucci, serving as his more cosmic (if still very satirical) follow-up to Veep.

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Avenue 5 aired its second season in October and November of 2022, continuing its general assault on the failings of the rich, vain, and nigh-lethally blinkered. (One major development in the second season: The production and broadcast of a TV show based on the disaster befalling the real Avenue 5, which the people trapped aboard the ship watch obsessively and allow to influence their actions. Fun!) News that the show was ending comes after the news that god knows how many other HBO shows have ended recently; at the very least, this appears to be a nice, normal cancellation: No weird tax shenanigans, no “sorry, we renewed you and now you’re un-renewed” idiocy: Just a straightforward “No more, thanks.” Iannucci will continue working with HBO, teaming up with Sam Mendes for The Franchise; meanwhile, Laurie has hopped ship over to Apple TV+, where he’ll star in the third season of spy show Tehran.

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