Warning: This story contains spoilers for The Flight Attendant on HBO Max.
On Thursday, HBO Max released the final episode of its new thriller The Flight Attendant, starring Kaley Cuoco and Rosie Perez. In addition to a slew of outerwear, Cuoco’s character Cassie wears an item in the penultimate episode that’s close to both tourists and native New Yorkers' hearts: an “I Love New York” hoodie. While the beginning of the season shows Cassie in bright colors and vibrant patterns, as her life begins to unravel — and she realizes she could be either arrested for murder or murdered herself — her fashion choices become more casual and subdued. Her collection of Saint Laurent coats and Gucci skirts falls away, only to be replaced with an item bought in a tourist shop. And, like the whirlwind storyline, the hoodie also has an unexpected backstory.
“We needed an outfit change — something that Cassie could’ve bought off the street — otherwise, she'd be in the same clothes forever,” Cat Thomas, the costume designer for the series, tells Refinery29. The cast had just recently returned to filming after lockdown, bringing Thomas and the rest of the crew back to New York. (Production shut down in March due to COVID-19, before picking back up for the final two episodes in August.) Upon their return, a solution to her sartorial roadblock came to her: “I love this city so much, so [an ‘I Love New York’ sweatshirt] felt like the perfect fit.” That is, until another problem arose in the form of clearance required to feature the hoodie.
According to Thomas, in order for them to include it in the show, they needed permission from New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo. Yes, it's mandatory. “Since it was one of those last-minute additions, Kaley and I came to the realization late. We were talking about adding [the hoodie,] and I was like, ‘Oh god, Kaley, we have to actually clear this!’” But, as if the ghost of Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), who plays Cassie’s deceased confidant throughout the season, was sending luck from the after life, another solution arose.
According to Thomas, Perez, who plays Megan on the show, is a huge supporter of Cuomo and knows him personally. “I went to Rosie and begged. I was literally like, ‘I know you know Cuomo. I know you can get it through. If anyone can do it, you can!’ And she was immediately like, ‘I'm on it!’” Somehow, the plan actually worked. “He called from his office to get it cleared for the next day.”
“We were one of the first productions back up after COVID, so we all cried together because [the piece] is such a symbol — it made us all really happy and proud,” Thomas recalls. “It felt like it was meant to be."