Avenue 5 is a delightfully funny sci-fi comedy on HBO featuring a star-studded cast and a futuristic premise about an interplanetary cruise ship that takes passengers to space for extended stays. But things go awry, and since neither the crew on board nor the eccentric billionaire owner are particularly smart, the future hangs in the balance.
Now in its second season, it’s clear that the intelligence of the crew, owners and passengers aboard the Avenue 5 is lacking. Some, however, are smarter than others, and they are often the ones who are not listened to.
10/10 Herman Judd
The eccentric billionaire owner of Avenue 5, Herman Judd – played by Josh Gad in what might rank among Josh Gad’s finest performances – must possess a certain level of intelligence to have acquired the fortune he has. Or maybe it was just bad luck and his love of partying that allowed him to develop popular resorts. Nonetheless, he seems completely unaware of anything going on with his own ship.
When it is revealed that the majority of the staff he has hired are just figureheads with little or no experience in space travel or managing a cruise ship, Herman begins to look even more incompetent. He demands respect and, even more, attention, but never deserves it. Instead, he relies on the most capable people around him to pick up the slack.
A passenger on the ship, Doug is mostly seen arguing with his wife Mia. The couple appear to have a toxic marriage and are on the verge of divorce. They can’t get along, yet they’re stuck on this ship with nowhere to go.
However, his lack of intelligence really shines through when Doug fails to realize that his wife’s baby is too advanced to be biologically his. The baby was most likely conceived around the time they were separated and she had an affair with one of the crew members. He means well, but his temper and attitude prove that Doug lacks both academic and emotional intelligence.
8/10 Frank Kelly
Frank is sweet, kind and has a positive attitude even in the most trying situations. Another passenger on the plane, he is the submissive husband of Karen, frank, noisy and demanding. She directs him and he lets her.
That said, he took a stand when he locked her in their room for months to keep her away from other passengers who were sure to be angry with her for her actions that caused the ship to veer off course. He also cleverly found a way to tend to his own cooking show, using objects around the ship to make creative meals, like hair dryer popcorn. He’s resourceful but doesn’t look very smart.
7/10 Karen Kelly
Karen is domineering, demanding, and thinks she’s smarter than she is. She is always ready to help but made a major mistake that caused the ship to go off course. She wants to get involved and show that she can help. Nonetheless, one of the things fans wanted to see happen in Avenue 5 Season 2 is that Karen was knocked down a few ankles, and it did indeed happen.
As a passenger on the plane, she is determined and involved, speaking up for others. As her journey in Season 2 gets stranger and stranger as she becomes obsessed with Ryan and livid with her husband, Karen is among the smartest individuals on the ship.
6/10 Rabbi Mulcair
One of the things Avenue 5 does better than The Orville is its depiction of realistic bureaucracy. At the heart of these stories is typically Rav. As the head of mission control for Avenue 5 working on Earth, Rav reluctantly found herself on the ship at the end of the first season. She comes across as an intelligent person considering the job she has. But given Herman’s hiring practices, it’s unclear if she actually has the smarts, education and experience to fill the job in the first place.
Nonetheless, she tries to do what needs to be done and shows intelligence, even sometimes a lack of morality, such as when she is constantly ready to sacrifice the lives of others. Nonetheless, compared to some of the other characters, Rav is among the smartest.
5/10 Matt Spencer
Matt is weird and hilarious. A parody of a stereotypical public relations man, he works as a client relations manager for Avenue 5. But beneath his constant smile and soothing voice, he has an obvious dark side. One of the things fans love about Avenue 5 is the over-the-top characters, and Matt tops the list.
He’s probably very smart, but his eccentricities keep him from showing it. He is happy to appease passengers but does so in a condescending, sometimes ridiculous manner. Nevertheless, there is a good chance that without him, the staff would not be able to keep the peace.
4/10 Ryan Clark
Fans first thought Ryan, the captain of the ship, was a very smart and educated man. But, it turns out he has no experience running a ship, knows nothing about the science of space travel, and was simply hired to play a captain, not necessarily be one. He’s a smart person but not necessarily for the job he was hired for.
He does, however, use common sense when finding ways to appease angry passengers. He also knows, sometimes, when to turn to Billie, the ship’s true scientific mind, for help. But the fact that he took the job knowing he didn’t know what to do if something went wrong proves he’s in over his head.
3/10 Spike Martin
He doesn’t get enough credit, but Spike might actually be one of the smartest people on the ship. A passenger barely enjoying his retirement, he was an astronaut and would have been the first Canadian on Mars. However, he became a womanizer with alcohol problems, which made people trust him less.
Still, if Spike really got down to it, and if people really listened, he might have some valuable advice for them. He’s the only one with previous experience in space, which matters a lot.
2/10 Iris Kimura
Iris supports Herman and she is the only person he will listen to and who can talk to him. As the ship’s associate owner, she comes across as someone who knows better but is often pushed aside by Herman because he’s the one making the decisions.
Nonetheless, she is lively, witty, sarcastic, and fiercely intelligent. With her back on the ship and with some knowledge of what’s going on on Earth, she could be the key to helping them all finally land safely home.
1/10 Billie McEvoy
Obviously the smartest person on the ship, Billie is the second engineer (though it’s unclear who is supposed to be the first) and the only highly educated and knowledgeable person. Yet she often gets sidelined when explaining what’s going on and how they can fix it.
Billie is the one who identified problems before anyone else and found solutions to solve them. If she had been able to take over, things could have turned out very differently.
Avenue 5: The main characters, ranked by intelligence | Pretty Reel